It’d be all out of context, this future-knowing stuff

 

 

Louisa was hiding under a blanket on the couch. “Where’s my Weezy? Where’s Weezy?” I called from the kitchen. She giggled. I came in and tickled the foot that was sticking out. I scooped her up: “Weeza!” And in a moment, looking into her eyes, I remembered how impossible this moment seemed four years ago. And I thought, “Wouldn’t it have been lovely to have this snapshot then? Wouldn’t I have slept better? My God …”

[…]

The three thousand who learn somewhere else, and we who live here anyway

I lugged a ladder around my house Monday morning, spraying vinegar water on the windows and wiping them clean with newspaper. It was the Sunday paper, and that matters because it wasn’t just the paper in my hands that left its ink on my fingers. I kept the front section on the front stoop under a Read more about The three thousand who learn somewhere else, and we who live here anyway[…]

A litany of little things

FullSizeRender

My grandma wrote down everything.

In calendars from funeral homes, she’d write whether anyone came to visit (“Phyllis trimmed shrub after dinner”), masses she attended, and names of people who died, with their ages behind their names. All these little things.

Grandma’s notebooks are inside a scrapbook now beside her bed in the nursing home. Sunday, her fingers gripped mine tightly. Her eyes bore into mine and her mouth was pursed tight, so I kept talking.

[…]

Already and not yet, but the hummingbirds are coming back soon

DSC_0100

Earlier today, the girls and I pumped our legs on the swings under a mostly cloudless canopy of blue. Some trees hinted at turning green; others not at all yet. We startled a snake walking to a picnic table to set down our water bottles near the playground at the woods. We unzipped our coats in the sun; put them back on in the shade. Alice picked me a trout lily because I’m her “best mom.” I accepted it gratefully, but left it wilting on the picnic table because I’m not the best mom. I’m tired, grateful for siblings who’ll play when I want to sit.

For a while the playground was theirs alone, but two moms strolled over with toddlers. I busied myself at the table with a pen and a notebook. I tried not to hear their reviews of weight-loss shakes and gym memberships. I regretted not bringing a caffeinated tea, and my mind flitted from my notebook to the sky — the blue sky, obstructed by leafless trees. I want a big blue sky, I wrote in my notebook. A big blue sky. And I want to run. […]

Do not be afraid … of the word ‘calling’

We wore our winter hats and our spring jackets to the playground yesterday. I carried a thick book about callings, whatever that means, and sat on the merry-go-round to read a few sentences between the girls hollering for me to watch this, look at that. I chose a Dorothy Sayers piece about artists being the closest to understanding vocation; it was a good choice. Artists make money so we can create, she writes, and in that, we’re doing holy work. Others earn a paycheck so they can live, she writes. Yes, yes, I nodded. “For the artist there is no distinction between work and living. His work is his life, and the whole of his life …” Yes, Dorothy, I’m an artist.

After about an hour of this mental exercise of counting children from where I sat and molding my interpretation of vocation two or three sentences at a time, dirty-mouthed teenagers drove us into the woods.

“Look! Trout lily leaves!” I cried, peeling some autumnal leaves from the wildflower’s spotted ones. “Just like Mary in Secret Garden,” Alice piped in.

[…]

‘I have no idea what comes next,’ I say. ‘Samesies,’ Mary would’ve said

346px-Master_of_the_Tiburtine_Sibyl_Crucifixion

Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl, Crucifixion, 1485; Detroit Institute of Art

Right now, the youngest is napping. Alice lays on her belly under a still-leafless maple; Violet sits cross-legged beside her with a stuffed rabbit in her lap. They’re so far out from my spot on the front stoop that I can’t hear them: this moment is parenting’s high-water mark. An Eastern phoebe’s returned to nest under our deck; bugs fly by and I’ve forgotten their names. Daffodils are three inches above ground. The world goes on knowing what to do and when to do it, but I’m on the stoop, wondering.

I carry around all these possibilities in my imagination. I stack them up on the dresser top beside me while I fold clothes, or lay on the windowsill while I wash dishes. I toy with moving to a house we would own in the city; moving to a suburb for the schools. I stack up the open-enrollment deadline for schools of choice; I consider visiting buildings I’m not excited about. Kindergarten open house and my will-be second-grader’s Tums in her pocket. Writing this book about “radical faith” with someone who once lived in an intentional community, and wondering how no one’s picked up yet that my past is much more predictable. I read tough books and wash a dozen loads of towels, toddler leggings, sweatshirts, and pillow cases every week.

All these possibilities, I carry around.

Aren’t humans the worst? Aren’t we, to be thinking of this while the world sings the Doxology; while flowers come up and buds open?

[…]

God is all about those meanwhiles

“They screamed as if they were being murdered,” Dave said. “I thought Lou just had soap in her eyes, but I went in there and Violet had climbed out of the tub and was screaming, dripping wet on the rug — like SCR-eeaming,” Dave did jazz hands: crazy-town screaming, then, “and Lou was backed up way back, as far back as she could in the bathtub.”

I could picture this: I could hear it, almost. Staying at home with them has taught me the depths of the girls’ lung power.

“And Lou points to a tiny spider under the soap ledge. And she goes, ‘Dad, he went like this,'” Dave loses it here, laughs and imitates her, curling her index finger in a “come hither” motion. “‘The spider, he went like dis,'” Dave mimicked, bent over laughing.

[…]

And Paul says, Get on with it!

A few of my friends in Oshkosh came over to our house to help me clean and finish packing the night before I moved the girls and me to my mom’s in Ohio, part of that awkward forward movement toward Michigan a couple years ago. Dave was already six weeks in Michigan for his new job; Read more about And Paul says, Get on with it![…]