For Mothers, and Grandmothers, and Great-Grandmothers


In honor of mothers everywhere, but especially my delightful mother, and her irrepressible mother, who have taught me to laugh (and sometimes cry) my way through this crazy-wonderful ride they call motherhood . . .

LITTLE THINGS

It’s the little things I love the most,
the little things that make the good life good.

It’s brushing fingers with the boy-turned-man
I once begged God to turn my way,
And he smiles, twinkle-eyed,
And it’s still all for me,
and still my heart stands still.

It’s miniature pajamas hanging in an empty closet,
waiting,
and I never thought
we’d have someone to wear them.

It’s the utter exasperation of
folding tiny mismatched socks
I thought I’d only buy for friends.

It’s my chubby alarm clock waddling in,
well before the dawn,
lisping, “Mommy, can I snuggle you?”
In she climbs, and she smells like strawberries
and promise.

It’s a victory dance for that first-time triumph;
it’s a wacky dance
just ’cause we feel like dancing—
and the sillier we look,
and the faster we spin,
the harder we laugh,
and the better it feels.

It’s a monkey squeeze from a blue-eyed boy
who still begs Mommy to carry him,
and I’ll do it till my arms fall off
—which they may—
because I know it will end soon.

It’s the welcome sinking of the sun—just barely night—
and I’m so weary I can hardly cross
the toy-strewn tornado-zone
to collapse and prop up my aching feet,
but as I close my eyes,
I sigh a prayer of thanks,
and drink it in,
and promise never to forget,
never to squander
these little things.


**********************************************************

FULL CIRCLE

She hobbles past, every step an effort, almost painful to watch—
ninety years of walking and breathing, loving and living, caught up to her at last.
But they haven’t won yet. Not yet.
Behind her, a younger woman—a just-greying reflection of the older—hovers,
keeps a protective hand on the woman’s bent and crooked back.
The mother turns her head our way, just for a moment.
Her blue eyes, muted and milky with time, somehow still sparkle;
her white hair glows in the light from the window.
She glances at the tiny blanketed bundle, snug in my arms,
breathing now these nine days.
“Enjoy your baby,” she says with a knowing smile, and shuffles on.
“I will. I do,” I say.
And watching them pick their way—slowly, slowly—
through the lobby, past all the pregnant bellies,
until they disappear with the nurse through the double doors,
I am reminded
that she had her turn,
and now it is mine,
and one day,
this warm, blinking bundle I carry and shield and adore
will walk behind me
and do the same for me.

My grandmother, Jane, laughing at life at 93.

IMG_1182

My amazing mother-in-law, who can juggle many grandbabies at once!

My mom and her mom.

 


13 Things I Wish I Could Teach My Dog


What I Wish I Could Teach My Dog

My two Christmas babies: our dog, Cole, born Christmas day 2004, and our daughter Cassidy, born Christmas day, 2005

1. Look both ways before you cross the street. Please, please, please—if you learn nothing else on this list, get this one down.
2. If you get tangled in a leash, just step out one paw at a time, and unwind. It’s really not that difficult. Really.
3. When people get down on the floor to do yoga, or stretch, or just pick up a piece of lint, that is not an invitation for you to pant wildly in their face, lick their cheeks, and plop your enormous derriere down in their lap. We love you, but really, it is unpleasant—and probably very unhealthy—to take cleansing yoga breaths when the air is full of doggy breath.
4. When I place a pile of clean laundry on the floor to fold, it is not for you. It is not there so you can walk in circles on top of it, then make your smelly self comfortable lying on it. And the baby’s mat is definitely not yours to lie on. You have a lovely bed that you may lounge upon at any time.
5. Don’t sneak up behind me at night—especially not when I’m holding the baby. If you haven’t noticed, your fur is pitch black, and I’ve nearly decapitated myself in violent collisions with you in dark rooms at night. And if I’m gone, who would buy you treats?
6. If you find that you must throw up inside the house, there is plenty of hardwood flooring available for your yakking pleasure. Please use that instead of the carpet. (I appreciate the way you always station yourself right at the seam where the hardwood meets the carpet, but still, you have a gift of aiming for the carpet. You’re not doing this on purpose, are you?)
7. Corollary to #6: If you absolutely must use the bathroom inside the house—I understand that sometimes even the best of dogs have emergencies, and if you do, it is probably your owner’s fault—but again, just find a nice spot on the hardwood. Your life expectancy will be much longer if you do this.
8. It is not necessary to eat paper, books, and DVDs when we leave you alone in the house for a little while. We will always come home—always. We know you are unhappy when we leave—but eating our stuff just makes your misery continue after we get home, and where’s the fun in that?
9. Corollary to #8: If you simply must display your displeasure by eating books, please don’t eat the ones that belong to the library. I imagine they have a distinct old-books-from-the-library scent that will be easy for you to distinguish. Library books cost a lot of money. (And you’re welcome, Athens-Clarke County Public Library, for my $200 “donation” on behalf of my dog.)
10. It is not necessary to bark 5,000 times when the doorbell rings. One bark will do the trick.
11. And on the subject of barking, if the baby is asleep, it is not necessary to bark at all when the doorbell rings.
12. Sometimes, Daddy likes to knock on the walls just to mess with you. No one is at the door; Daddy is just being mean.
13. Speaking of Daddy being mean . . . sometimes he pretends to throw the ball, and he doesn’t really throw anything. You have my permission to run into him and knock him down with your ginormous head whenever he does this. I promise to laugh hysterically and give you lots of treats.
I know we’ve hit 13 already, but I’ve got a few more bonus lessons . . .
14. If you would quit pulling on your leash, you would take a lot more walks and have a much fuller doggy life with many more opportunities to sniff new things.
15. If you must eat grass in preparation for emptying your stomach, just let me know you’ve been eating grass—we can work out some sort of paw signal or something—and I’ll gladly leave you outside for a few extra minutes.
16. Sometimes, you just gotta go in the rain. Sorry, bud, that’s just the way it is, and the sooner you accept that fact and stop looking at me with those “Are you crazy?” eyes, the happier we will both be.
17. When it rains, just stand at the door and give me one paw at a time to wipe the mud off. This is not, by the way, an invitation for you to flop onto your back in the doorway and roll your wet fur around on the floor, hoping for a luxurious belly rub.
18. You are no longer a puppy. You weigh 80 (ahem, maybe 85) pounds, and you are not a lap dog. Wait. Maybe I don’t want to teach you that one after all . . .


13 Reasons I Dropped Off the Blog-Wagon this Winter


So I fell off the blogging bandwagon this winter and spring, but I have 13 good reasons. Scout’s honor.

1. I had a baby in January. (I offer photographic proof below. Need I post 12 more? Nevertheless . . . )

Why it's hard to blog with a new baby around

Sawyer Kate, the sweetest-ever blogging distraction

2. It is not a wise idea to post things online when massively sleep-deprived.
3. Did you know that the average newborn goes through 10 to 14 diapers a day in the first few weeks? Yeah. Mine definitely fell in the “to 14” end of the diapering spectrum.
3. I’ve been using what remains of my beleaguered brain cells to finish up my latest manuscript, Wishing Well. It’s done and submission ready! (Clouds part, angels sing, my husband faints with joy. Or perhaps relief, or horror—or then again, maybe that’s just the sleep deprivation, creating a narcoleptic attack.)
4. When you try to find a babysitter for four young children so you can write, people either laugh hysterically in your face, or run away screaming. Sometimes both.
5. This baby only weighs about 12 pounds right now, but she somehow creates more dirty laundry than the rest of the family members combined. I suspect she is secretly proud of this accomplishment.
6. And while we’re discussing mind-boggling levels of laundry, my dryer has some sort of rust issue, so that it’s putting lovely brown streaks on all our clothing…meaning I have been forced to hang most of our clothes to dry like someone straight out of the 1950s…LAUNDRY HAS TAKEN OVER MY LIFE.
7. I feel compelled to add here that while all this talk of having four children and drowning in laundry may make me sound like an old, boring person, I am no such thing. Exhausted, yes; old, no; boring, definitely not. Or so I tell myself. This is not a reason I have not blogged, it’s simply a fact that deserved a few lines.
8. In February, in the post-baby haze when I was too tired to write, I got a serious case of HGTV addiction. I spent any free moments (and there weren’t many) obsessing over that captivating question: Will they love it or list it?
9. In March, it was still cold, when it was supposed to be warm. And who can blog with cold toes?
10. In April, I decided to reread The Clockwork Prince in order to prepare for The Clockwork Princess. I have been consumed.
11. Did I mention I had a baby?
12. Did I mention sleep loss?
13. All this to say…I’m gradually digging out of the baby burrow I’ve been snuggled in all winter and spring. I haven’t stopped writing—I never stop writing; that would be like ceasing to breathe!—but the blog had to go into hibernation for a few months. Up next is a list I’ve been pondering for some time now: 13 Things I Wish I Could Teach My Dog.