Where we only need sheets Where the morning sun sneaks through curtain crevices Here, where velvet whispers open rested eyes Here, where small bodies join big ones in the big bed But there is no rush Only these sweet, soft fingertips How did they get so soft? I made them and yet I remain Absurdly oblivious of my craft My most beautiful compositions Warm, throaty hums, no words Just simple sighing sounds of content Mmm, hmmm, giggles, and murmurs Fingers tangled together, we study their shapes The way they bend and make room for each other The way they open, close, curl, and Squeeze and squeeze and squeeze I and love and you She whispers fragments But they all start the same How long will she call me mama? The melody of that double ah sound It's a heartsong The rhythm feels perpetual But I know better If I write it down now Will I permeate the music in my mind? We grow so close to this non-native habitat We slip inside it's ecosystem We are so entwined we pay no attention to the howlers Guttural growls like the swirling squelch of an emptying bathtub Rinsing away all of our worries All of our burdens In the jungle
The hard crunch of gravel. The almost electric buzz of heat on the windows. Watching the prairie slip past as if nothing has changed. The wheat grows. The cattle roam. John Prine on the radio singing of Lake Marie. You don’t know the song, but you know it, you’d sing along with the chorus if you heard it. Whoa – oh – oh – oh – oh.
That’s what every day feels like, the peculiar discomfort of knowing and not. Scratching the surface, then marveling at the scab. We watch the world shift but it’s all out of focus, like shadows on an old black and white set. How can we be so fortunate in this small corner of the Earth and yet so brazenly indifferent to the struggles and hardships of others? Maybe if I adjust this hinterland antenna, we’ll get some clarity.
And then Logan says, “Let’s get outside.” Fresh air. Rain boots on pasture. Two small girls running through cornfields. A husband and wife really listening to the words and to each other, wondering if Prine’s troubled marriage was saved in Canada or if they caught fish instead.
In a small town nearly untouched by a devastating pandemic, you’d think we’d all share a little gratitude, a little kindness, some small acknowledgement of our good fortune. I believe I am decades, and maybe a trip to Canada, away from understanding any of this.
Still, I feel my heart overflow with these peaceful waters. The fluidity I created when I stood next to this man and chose him. The calm I experience when he demonstrates to our daughters that no matter how rough the current, life should not be navigated by fear. The knowing I get when we dive too far into the deep end but come up spluttering, laughing, and gasping at the joy of life every time. The waves crash, but this harmony keeps us afloat.
The Day She Didn’t Choose Me
Today my daughter chose the babysitter. Normally I come home for lunch and Pearl’s eyes light up, her arms reach out to me and the love she shows is undeniable in that display of pure need. Today, none of that happened. Instead she held tight to Emma, snuggling into her neck and refusing to let go. I would never hold this against Emma, she is an incredible blessing to our entire family. But I nursed the pangs of heartache and guilt throughout the day, blaming an eight month old child for my destruction. She did not intend to shatter my heart. Pearl is just a baby, I repeated this to myself several hundred times.
Everyday I worry. Everyday I question my decisions and choices. Am I really doing the absolute best for my family? Some days yes. Some days I am super-mom, I am invincible, untouchable, unstoppable. If the apocalypse crashed down upon us at dawn, we’d be just fine, we’d kick apocalypse ass. Other days no, just no. And that two letter word contains more than enough defeat, additional explanation unnecessary to any parent.
At 7:35PM I forgave my daughter her unknowing indiscretion. I forgave her as we swayed together, nearly inaudible coos escaping her tiny perfect body as she drifted off. I forgave her as my feet sank into the carpet, my toes imprinting our love on the world below. We swayed much longer than necessary. Feeling her warm, even breath on my shoulder, her fingers gently squeezing my arm and releasing, squeezing and releasing, her entire body eventually falling into a peaceful, heavy, relaxation. She is safe, and warm, and loved. She is innocent and I do my best and so we are granted equal amnesty.
Tonight we conquered emotional cataclysm, tomorrow is another day.
A youth well spent
I hear this question a lot these days, “Do you ever wonder what you used to do with all your free time?” The first few times I fell right into the deep hole of despair this question, perhaps unknowingly, implies: the agony of a wasted life.
Yes, I miss sleeping in. I miss the days when my body wouldn’t automatically come to life five minutes before Pearl wakes up. I miss staying up late for no apparent reason, safe in the knowledge that I would feel wonderful the next day regardless. I miss the freedom to just read all day, the freedom to spend days agonizing over a single blog post. But it’s not these little moments seemingly filled with nothing that I mourn.
To answer the question, no I do not wonder how I filled my time. I remember fondly, I spent it doing things like this:
Pardon my humble brag, but I’m happy to say my youth was not wasted. Life did not begin or end with Pearl. She found us mid-way through the story; well developed characters with an expansive history rich in self-discovery. And even though our time is now spent doing this like this:
Happily, it was our past that got us to this present, and what a gift it is.
Growing a human being is no simple task, I thank you for your patience and understanding while I flit about the house ranting about your muddy boots and coffee stains on our white cupboard doors. While I often feel justified in these moments of pure, seething, indignation I know I am sometimes in the wrong. Key word: sometimes. I want to apologize for two moments where I confess, I was wrong.
About six months in, on a Saturday morning, all I wanted was a breakfast burrito and we were out of potatoes. A breakfast burrito without potatoes is just a weird burrito that happens to have an egg in it, don’t kid yourselves people. You refused to go the store at 9AM because you hadn’t showered yet. I remember watching our friend Elliott literally jump from the couch to get his pregnant wife a glass of water when she vaguely mentioned she was thirsty. You need a shower? A shower to go to the one grocery store in our population 2000 town that no one will be at at 9AM? Cue the insane, hormonal water works. I had successfully guilted you into the shower but I was not nearly finished being crazy. Dripping wet you found me in the kitchen frying the potatoes I had managed to purchase and return with before you even reached for the conditioner. And you said nothing, you let me relish my “take that!” moment with a quiet, confused apology in your eyes.
Much like the time you stomped through our house in your boots in mid-winter and I asked you to please, please, stop doing that. I spent the morning plowing through laundry, painting the nursery, and watching our roomba struggle to pick up the dirt clods and stickers littering our floors. Hours later you returned, boots still firmly planted on your feet, and terrorized our house yet again like Charlie Brown’s friend Pig-pen come to life. Arm-waving was now in play, high-pitched pregnancy induced hysteria on full throttle, “I spent the WHOLE DAY using the robot vacuum to clean up after YOUR mess. And now I have to turn it on again and start ALL over.” Yes. The robot vacuum, the vacuum that automatically cleans our house with the push of a button. How dare you? Again, you said nothing, removed your boots, and let me rave like a too early released lunatic.
Honestly, I think you got off pretty easy over the past nine months. However, I recognize and apologize for these two incidents where a perceived justification turned out to be totally uncalled for nonsense upon later reflection. If we learn anything from these moments it’s that sometimes it’s best to say nothing and other times you should just go buy the damn potatoes. And I think we should both be thankful I didn’t have a pregnancy like this lady.
Your Loving Wife