Monday, June 19, 2017

The Quiet Moments

They aren't the first moments that come to mind when I look back.  I seem to remember the dramatic moments most clearly of all - the night the cat died, the time we spun on ice and landed in the ditch, the times you let us stay up late to shop at Midnight Madness.

I don't remember the quiet moments so easily.  Hardly at all, in fact.  I don't remember ever fitting on your lap (although there are photos that assure me I did). I don't remember lying down with you to read a book or look up at the stars.  I don't remember tracing your skin, memorizing your hair and freckles and scars.

Each evening I lie, impatient, with my children and try to tune out thoughts of the things I need to do.  It's usually a wrestling match between the mom I want to be and the tantalizing lure of solitude.  And I doubt they'll remember the moments, the boring, everyday moments of cuddles, stories, praying.  But still we do them, night after day after night - not to be remembered, but to press into their soil that solid, steady base that I hope they aren't even conscious of.

Because while I don't remember any single instance of cozing with you, my whole life is weighted and steadied with your arms.  At some point I must have studied your face, your arms, your hands so intently that I memorized your freckles and lines.  (There is a mole on my neck now that matches yours - I love it.)  The rhythms of your speech, your breath, are calming to me - when I can't sleep, I find myself imagining I'm a kid again, curled in a nest on your floor, matching my breath to yours until I sleep.

Thank you for enduring every long and boring and frustrating day.

Thank you for filling me up with good and glad things.

I love you.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Anvils

My brother and his wife have had to go out of town - at the exact same time we needed a place to stay between houses.  So we've got their whole house to ourselves, full of toys and treats and everything we need.  We haven't needed to unload anything from the van or trailer, just came in with our suitcases and made ourselves at home.

Their house is big, but they have a super short driveway - er, parking spot. From curb to garage door, it's exactly the length of the 15-passenger van I'm driving.  Dad backed it in, and I pretty much planned on leaving it there all week. I'm a fairly confident driver but not when my mistake would ruin R&A's new garage door.

Mom and Dad left yesterday.
I don't know what we'd have done without them.  For a month they worked so hard and put up with us at our worst and most stressed out and loved us and made us laugh and cheered for our kids and babysat and took us out to eat and loaded up boxes and the trailer and our hearts with steady love and hard work.

It was hard to say goodbye. I woke up horrified that I had slept in, leaving them to pack up while caring for my kids, and I kissed them goodbye half-dressed and uncoffeed.

Before he drove away, Dad slid an anvil behind the van's back tire. 

Today was rainy and grey and Kachi wasn't feeling well and before lunchtime everyone had gotten hurt at least once.  So this afternoon I loaded them all up in the van and we took a long prowly drive, bought coffee and ice cream and visited Patrick at work.  And then I drove home and backed that big old van into that tiny little spot because my dad had made it possible for me to park. My back tire bumped the anvil and knew I was back as far as I could go before scraping the garage, and just far enough off the curb to not get hit.  Done.

And that one act, that thoughtful and kind gesture with the anvil, is so much more than just a parking aid. It's the way my parents have loved me my whole life.  Believing in me and helping me to do what I don't think I can.

If I were leaving my kids in the same situation, I think I might have slid the anvil in front of the tires, to keep the van safe and stationary.  I probably would have suggested they stay home for the week until they could park it in their new driveway.

But my parents believe in me.
And help me.
Even when they're gone.

I love you, mom and dad.
Xo.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Goodbye, TBay.

I'm writing from bed.  I'm pressed on either side by the sleeping and slanted bodies of my two oldest children.  The baby is asleep in his playpen at our feet. And the toddler is sleeping with Grandmaman.

I fell asleep with them at 830.  I don't think I've gone to bed that early unless I was sick since 1989.  (Suddenly feeling incredibly old.)  But they need the cuddles. They need the extra security of mama at bedtime because we've just turned their world upside down.  We moved away from the only home they've ever known and it's going to be a few weeks before we press our feet against the floorboards of our new home.  We're spending a week with the grands en route, and then a week house-sitting.  It's disorienting, strange.  I took V to Emergency yesterday and when they asked for our address I was all at sea. We're between addresses. Like a letter, sent, but not yet received.

And yet ... being in this limbo is special. Not easy (all four kids melted down at suppertime), and lonely (Patrick stayed behind to work), but special, because instead of just thinking about the next thing, we have time to cherish the last thing.

When we came to Thunder Bay, my parents drove us up in their Honda Civic. My dad's little trailer hauled our few possessions, and it was just the two of us hunting for a place to call our own.  Now, six and a half years later, we're going out with a huge trailer and a van load ... and four precious children.  We came to the city so empty, and we are leaving so full.

I remember our drive up to Thunder Bay, passing a sign welcoming us to the district  (about three hours before reaching the city proper). I couldn't help but read it with that ache, the sorrow of loss and emptiness that miscarriage bleeds into the future - trying to imagine what opportunities awaited, trying not to think about the empty backseat that should have held a carseat or two. I remember holding Patrick's hand and being so glad I was with him.

Prepping for moving away, I didn't have much time or mental space to wax emotional. There were kids to manage and a million decisions to make (and ohhh I hate decisions!) and goodbyes to say or not say and couches to carry and meals to cook and noses to wipe and did I mention the decisions? So I hadn't really given myself any emotional space until I saw that sign.

And I was driving past it again.  This time without Patrick -

But so, so full.

Our gorgeous firstborn was holding up a rattle for the baby to grab. The two middles were laughing and pretending to be Dora and Boots. And mom and dad were moving us once again.

Full.  I'm telling you.

My stupid heart burst wide open, and Sam asked, "why are you crying, mama?"

"Because I love you so much," I replied.

So, dear Thunder Bay, thank you.  We came empty and you sent us out full. You look industrial and adventurous and I had no idea that you would be such a gorgeous garden where our family would grow.

God bless you, city. I love you so much.