Friday, August 29, 2014

The Art of Letting Go

Last week, C finished reading her first chapter book (The Time Garden, by Edward Eager).

Pictured here reading another Eager book, Half Magic

I was working in the kitchen when she ran in from the living room. "I finished!" she exclaimed, a wide grin shining on her face. I scooped her up and hugged her tight, both of us so proud, so delighted at her accomplishment.

And then she began to sob, burying her head in my shoulder.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"It's just... I didn't want it to be over. I loved the Natterjack."

I tried to explain that wonderful thing about books, how you could just pick them up and start all over again, and those characters would be right there waiting for you like they never left, but she just shook her head, unsatisfied.

"But it won't be the same. It won't ever be the first time again."

I wanted to keep holding her forever. I felt it too, that ambivalence: the joy that comes with each milestone, but also the sorrow, because moving on always means leaving something behind.

In fact, I feel it all the time. Watching my children grow in all the big ways and little ways that they do, I know that change is constant. I tend to be a person who holds on, but parenthood has helped me appreciate the art of letting go.

A page from C's current WIP.

Even though I recognize how important this is, it is never easy. It means growth, of course; it means pushing upward, striving. But it also means accepting the loss of what came before.

Our family is on the brink of big changes right now. C begins public school next week; D will be returning to preschool. While we are used to an abundance of time with our children, we will suddenly be faced with a scarcity of it. I'm not quite sure how that will go, for any of us. But I know that we will adjust, eventually. We will thrive on our new routines, and because our together-time will be more precious, we will appreciate it all the more. I trust this to be true.

But for now, I hold on. Even though, sometimes, my long days with the children have felt endless, now that they are numbered I treasure them. I love my children as they are right now, how they are filled with so much sweetness and energy and mischief and goofiness. How they invent elaborate games; how they tie strings to their toys and dangle them off the deck to put on marionette shows. How they spend hours digging a giant hole in the backyard, digging deep, with strange urgency. (We have to find Mother Earth, they explained. She is very old, and she will die soon. We have to take care of her children.)

And next week I will let go. I will kiss my daughter goodbye on her first day of school, and she will leave to have adventures that belong to only her. I will cook oatmeal and slice apples for my son's preschool class. I will love watching them grow, and change. Our weeks will be filled up, but it will be good. And there will still be plenty of time for reading, and puppet shows. Plenty of time for digging deeper holes.

We will adjust. After all, this is parenthood. This is life.

Hold on.

Let go.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ten Years

On this day ten years ago, I awoke in a downtown hotel room. My mother and sisters and soon-to-be-sister-in-law were with me, but I still managed to miss Brett, though we'd been apart for only one evening. I was nervous, jittery, peeking through the curtains at the cloudy sky and hoping it would not rain on our outdoor wedding.

The four of us, my sisters and I, left the hotel to wander the crest of the hill where the wedding would be. It was early, and quiet. I remember eating oatmeal, scooping it out of a paper cup very slowly, because it tasted that morning like warm glue. We roamed the hilltop in search of nail polish; I got my hair done. I probably drank some tea. And so the hours passed, skies growing bluer and bluer, as we readied for the day ahead.

The wedding began in the afternoon, in a tiny public garden nestled between grand mansions, adjacent to cobblestone streets and a sea wall with a marvelous view of the sound. Everything was bright and beautiful, flowers and green, not a trace of gray anywhere. And then the best part: seeing Brett again. My handsome groom, obviously as fluttery-feeling as I was, but happy. So, so, happy, the way he is. The way I am, with him.

We had been together for five years before that day. Which means that a large proportion of my life has been spent with him. And I am thankful everyday that he is here, thankful that we share the same vision of how to live, that we are still--and will always be--evolving together. That our personalities balance, that I can always rely on his easygoing optimism to counter my anxious tendencies. That we bring out the best in each other, always.

So on this day, we celebrate ten years of marriage. The skies are blue. And if it rains, we'll just huddle under an umbrella, together.