Tired here at the end of the day, but the good kind, the kind that says my body and my mind and my voice have all been made use of today. The weather was strange from the start, a warm breeze from this direction, a cold one from that, sunlight dimming and brightening through inconstant clouds, a moment or two of drizzle. It was a little off-kilter, the internet radio not working, the knowledge of mercury being in retrograde buzzing around my brain. Five minutes into our morning walk, as he dawdled even more than usual, I turned us around, changed my clothes, and off we went in the jogging stroller, four miles looped through the neighborhood at a strange midmorning hour I hardly ever spend running, but it worked for us today to go with intuition and signs and symbols and against the usual flow. Everything happened earlier or later or more easily or longer than I expected, but by the end I was rolling along with it, with threatening rain and a last-minute call for a few hours’ work at the farm, with rambunctious toddlers and conversations no one wants to end, with an offer of a freelance job that is just the right size at this moment. The universe shook things up today. Or maybe not the entire universe. Maybe just that full, fat June moon that’s up there beyond the clouds somewhere. Maybe it’s all her doing that I’ve been sidestepping and ducking and swinging this way and that to find my way today. And now that way leads to cool sheets and a warm husband…
A drizzling, misting, light gray day in June. June. Where was the spring? Oh wait, we missed it.
After breakfast and the tug of war to change from robot pajamas to potty time to a clean diaper to clean clothes, we made our way outside regardless of the weather. Exploration of the mysterious compost bin, piled with eggshells and onion skin and apple cores, clouded with gnats, warm. Digging in “his” patch of dirt, between the garlic whose scapes are suddenly not just sprouted but tall and the newly planted tomatillo and pepper plants. Walking the “balance beam” of 4×4 at the edge of the raised bed. Squatting to examine moist soil. Squealing with delight as he watches a bird fly through the roped-up hop vines and into the bittersweet that flows from – into? – the neighbor’s yard.
Meanwhile, I drink my milky black tea and stretch a little. Three miles run Sunday, five yesterday, and my legs are muttering about it. But these legs! Suddenly my thighs are run through with iron, the soft places thinning to reveal tensile strength beneath. The baby/toddler/boy and I lie in his bed in the evenings and stretch our feet to the ceiling, shake out the stiffness, reach for our toes, roll like pencils across the thin futon mattress. He climbs on my back while I breathe through a plank. He crawls below me as I shift into downward dog. He begs to ride in the stroller, mostly because he knows we’ll visit the chickens at the farm halfway or stop on the way home at a friend’s place to descend over a hundred stairs to the shore, run around on a beach far sandier than ours, climb the rock wall, and then step up each of those stairs again, back to the stroller, back home to the dog and to dada and to dinner.
Not today, though. A rest day. For puttering around in the thick wet air. A day for more tea. And maybe some poems.
Even though it took four times as long as usual, he had so much fun helping me sweep. He learned the word “tidying” as I scurried around, clearing off the floor, finding home for things with him. He ran after me with the dust pan, scooping up dog hair. He snagged our big broom whenever I set it down, clearing for me. He watched our neighbor gardening outside and called her by name. He sipped water and begged for more cashew milk (he’s just started drinking anything but water, at his own request, and it feels like such new, big kid territory). When I sliced my finger on a rough bit of the faucet, he, too, needed a bandaid, like mama. When I didn’t stop sweeping to give him another prune, he plucked the container of them off of the counter, took two, put the lid back on, and replaced it where it had been. He climbs chairs to get to where he needs to go, and even though he might ask for help getting down, usually all it takes is “remember? how do we get down?” and he can do it. He ate two bowls of oats and raisins and yogurt for breakfast, asking for extra [flax & chia] seeds. The weather is gorgeous after two days of clouds and rain, and on our walk today, we picked up and discarded stones and sticks, watched the mailman for a long while, listened for a rooster crowing somewhere and talked about the difference between boy chickens and girl chickens. He knows butter comes from cows, eggs come from chickens, mint and garlic come from the backyard. And with all of his insistence on helping, he’s learning, too, about our values, our world. When washing the dishes, we turn the water off when we’re not using it because a lot of people need to work very hard to clean it after it goes down our drain. We don’t leave the fridge open too long when putting things away because we don’t want to waste the energy. This yucky thing may go in the trash, but that yucky thing may go in the compost to help feed our baby garlic, baby hops, baby tomatillos. Learning, learning. He’s learning to help put on his own shirt, pull up his pants. He brings me clean diapers when I tell him it’s time for a change. He says “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” “mama, hold hands,” “I love you.”
The dog woke up him up fifteen minutes into what is usually a 2-3 hour nap. I still need to buy groceries for dinner tonight (friends are coming) and take the recycling to the transfer station. I really don’t want a cranky nap-free baby tonight, nor am I terribly excited about missing out on that slice of afternoon that I get all to myself.
I have trouble remembering sometimes, how fortunate I am, we are. I have trouble disconnecting from all of those things I worry about getting right and noticing the things that are going better than I could have anticipated. We toured a lovely, homey Montessori school on Wednesday; he wouldn’t go until fall of next year, but we found a day in the school year my teacher man could take a day off and his mother could take the morning to babysit. As much as our guide very gently, firmly told us that it’s not the right school for every child, we were struck again and again by how it will so much be the right place for ours. His independence, his polite communication, his curiosity and focus. And even the visit itself, the obvious concept of avoiding doing for children what they can learn themselves, has rubbed off on us, as we continue to invite Thomas to help us water the plants, wipe his face and hands, put away his clean laundry.
There’s no grade in a grade book. There’s no raise, no new title. There’s no awards ceremony, no convocation. You just wake up, as a parent, and recognize that it’s a new mini era.