Breathing

Over the years I have read a whole lot of books, articles, blogs, instruction manuals, on this crazy little thing called parenting….

When my youngest became mobile and started taking over the world, my twins were still two.
I’ll say that again for those peeps in the back….
That is three boys under the age of three…

I was aging about 160 years a day.

Each day started with a main goal of keeping them all alive…
…and then if there was time for anything else…. well then yes, do that.

I was swimming in a sea of high chairs, diaper orders, baby gates and black out curtains… buying stock in Costco wipes was considered… but there was no time for that.

At the end of most days I would belly flop on my bed and think “I thought I would be better at this.”

But like anything else that starts out being foreign and hard,
I started to find ways to navigate.

Reading other people’s theories, strategies, struggles, tips, successes and stories were, for a while, my life line.

I’d take what I needed from each one, apply it to what was happening in my own house for whatever phase or season we were in, add a dash of observation and common sense…. and by gathering a little from here, a little from there…. I finally found a rhythm in our day.

The days became more predictable and routine and it no longer surprised me that I now required caffeine much the way a car requires gasoline.

I found that like Labradors or Thoroughbreds,
little boys need fresh air, and space to run, and a lot of it.
I learned that in between those times of running in fields, there were just as many times that they needed a lap to sit on, a pair of eyes looking just at them, a hand to hold.

I learned I needed those exact same things almost as much, if not more.

The calm and togetherness, followed by adventure and movement.

The breathing in. The breathing out.

I stumbled on this article as I was writing this post and love the summary of what this ‘breathing in and breathing out’ business really means for us parents…..

“In the inhaling or breathing-in phase the child directs his attention to an activity that basically relates him to himself. For little children each breathing-in period (drawing, water painting, knitting, eating…) is very short because little children can only concentrate for short periods of time. In the exhaling or breathing-out period, the child relates mainly to the surrounding world (free play, free running etc.). For each breathing-in period the child needs a breathing-out period and so a pattern is established.  When the children are in the breathing-in period, you have to make sure you are present, so the child feels ah, here I feel my parents, they are there for me. After that, for very short time, you can do what you have to do at home and you can tell your child you have to wait because I need to do this. And this will be all right because you know you have been present with the child.”                         -Helle Heckmann, Kindling Magazine

I started bringing this pattern into our life after watching, speaking to, and learning from the teachers at the Waldorf school my boys attend.

The beating heart of the school is creating rhythm in a child’s life.

Bringing the child inward for more focused learning, and then letting them explore outwardly.

For us, this breathing in and out looks different every day in our own home, but the pattern (for the most part) remains the same………

The snuggled up on the couch reading Charlotte’s Web morning, followed by a forest filled afternoon…. the boys running on trails and climbing logs while I hang back and enjoy my walk.

The pajama pants watercolor session around the dining room table, followed by me digging in my garden while the boys make mud pies.

The kids sitting on the kitchen counter while we make muffins together, followed by a park outing where the boys ride their bikes while I read my book in the sun.

A picnic lunch shared together on a blanket outside, followed by them playing astronauts in their room while I attack the mountain of laundry.

Sewing a pillowcase while listening to Neil Young, followed by them climbing a tree outside while I paint in my journal.

The pouring the coffee into the mug, followed by the pouring of the wine into a glass..:-)

Back and forth, in and out, over and over, through out our days, and weeks, and months and now, years.

This brought a rhythm to our life.

The times I get frustrated with their ‘neediness’ is almost always a day I neglect our ‘togetherness’…. our ‘breath in’. Some days we hit the ground running and it is go go go and I forget how much they we all  need that breath. That time where I actually sit down with them… look into their eyes, hear what they are saying to me, build something with them, create something together, sing or read or snuggle under a quilt.

That time is as necessary to the ease of our day as food… oxygen….water…. whatever it is you can’t live without…. cheese?  It is that necessary.

I’m learning  that the days where I am overwhelmed by their insanity energy level is almost always a day where I have expected the cozy togetherness to last all day….. If I had a time machine, this would be a day (pre-kids) where I would binge watch an entire season of Top Chef, order Chinese take out and not leave my couch.  Why don’t my kids understand my need for occasional hibernation? Why must such alarming levels of energy come so easily to these little bodies? I don’t know. But I do know that without a ‘breath out’, these kids be cray.

It doesn’t mean you have to go somewhere everyday…. we do most of our outward exploring right here. I hung a rope from a tree branch that occupies them for an entire afternoon. There are eggs to gather, coops to clean. I went to Goodwill and bought a bunch of old kitchen stuff for a mud kitchen. They do kids yoga in our living room. I play the Star wars theme song and they build star ships out of legos. The point of the breath out is that they are connecting to the world independently, and I am getting my shiznit done… (even if that just means sitting down and drinking some tea, reading a chapter in a book, or writing a blog post).

Speaking of that…. I currently have a toddler yanking on my shirt asking for a bagel that we don’t have and reminding me that my ‘breath out’ is over, and it’s time to make some sandwiches and draw a robot together.

Until next time…. whether you are enjoying a day of deep breathing or you are just keeping your ahead above water, know that what you are doing matters and I love ya!

The never-ending weekend

There are two ways to look at it.

I am referring to being a stay at home mom.

It is the never ending week…

Or the never ending weekend.

In general, Monday mornings get a bad rap. No one says “Looks like someone has a case of the Saturdays”… It’s the end of the ‘fun’ days and the start of the ‘work’ days…

Saturday comes around and suddenly here comes Gene Kelly, heel clicking with Debbie Reynolds and singing “Good morning to you!!!!”, twirling around and making plans for the day…..

I am a stay at home mom to little kids… the only difference between Monday and Saturday is the letters in front of the word ‘day’.

There is no boss that is going to fire me, no stress of meeting deadlines, no promotion around the corner… nowhere I have to be… so really…. it’s up to me to decide…. is it the never ending week? or is it the never ending weekend?

On my ‘never ending week’ days I am gripping the steering wheel of my mom-mobile Subaru, driving to the grocery store with my three kids in carseats behind me…. looking up to the heavens and literally pleading with some higher power…. “please…. please let there be a car-cart. I know what I said before…. about not ever being one of those car-cart moms. But listen, for that, I am truly sorry. I didn’t know. How are you supposed to know? I need that car-cart. Please… I NEED that car-cart.”

On my ‘never ending weekend’ days I look over at my kids munching on their morning bacon on a random Thursday and realize…. We can go wherever we want today. We could pack our bags and drive to Montana, eat drive-thru fries the entire time, dip our toes in a river and no one would even know we were gone. Why would I stay here in my house breaking up lego fights all day when there is a world out there for us to explore? I pack some extra clothes and hit the road, Jack.

On my ‘never ending week’ days I usually have a big goal. Like drinking an entire cup of coffee without interruption. Like taking a shower. On these days I am quickly reminded of the super power children possess of knowing the exact moment you sit down or foolishly think you are in the clear and sneak off with your book. That is when the inevitable “I’M DONE!!!!” comes yelling from one of the bathrooms or a yelp as someone gets whacked on the head with a shovel outside…. On these days I feel like I spend the entire day attending the needs of others and usually end up belly flopping on my bed and saying out loud into my quilt…”I thought I’d be better at this…..”

On my ‘never ending weekend days’ I peek around the corner and find all three boys are playing quietly. One is building ‘The tallest tower in the wowld’, one is looking at a Richard Scary book and one is slipping on his boots to go ride his bike. I turn on some John Denver and sit down to paint. Lunch time comes around and we sit outside to have a picnic. We dig in the garden together and take a walk to feed the sheep our apple cores. My husband comes home from work and I tell him what a glorious day we had, he whisks the boys upstairs so I can have a break and I drive off to the gym smiling….

On my ‘never ending week’ days nothing goes right. The dog peed in the night and one kid had a bad dream. We all wake up cranky and dang it, we forgot to get more bread. I think about all the things we don’t have, all the things I didn’t do, all the things that would make our lives easier. I think about my 20’s and our lives before kids, about sleeping in and going out and making my own money and spending every last penny at Michaels.

On my ‘never ending weekend’ days I am about to put in a load of laundry. I look outside and catch the sun rising over our garden. I swoop up my kids and put them in the car, still in their pajamas. We drive an hour and a half north and hike into a crystal clear lake. We strip down naked and I give them their first swim lessons… swirling their little bodies through cool water and watching their eyes sparkle with delight. We crawl out and eat ripe nectarines perched on warms rocks. We hike back to the car and sing drunken sailor songs with our windows down and wave to strangers.

On my ‘never ending week’ days I am on my knees mopping up spilled milk… mixed with play doh…. and something else from the bottom of someone’s boot they forgot to take off at the door. The little one is climbing the fence and I run out in my socks to grab him before he hightails it down our driveway and the twins are upstairs emptying their drawers onto the floor to find their favorite sweats that they won’t find because I forgot to do laundry. I haven’t washed my hair in three days and I look over to see my husband freshly showered, packing his lunch for the day. It’s 8:00 am and I am already exhausted. I think “What I would give to trade places with you just for today….”

On my ‘never ending weekend’ days I am sitting on a log in my bathing suit on the beach. It is 11:00 am on a Tuesday and it is 75 degrees. I take a sip of my iced coffee and lift my face to the sun. The boys are squealing with joy as they thrash around in the water and run over to show me moon shells and crab claws and ask if they can put them on their treasure shelves at home before they run back into the surf. I snap a picture and send it to my husband…. “I wish you were here….”. On these days I wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the world.

On my ‘never ending week’ days I ask my son to put on his shoes because we are going to be late for school. I ask him again and again nicely, calmly…. using my monotone mom voice that sounds sweet but really is yelling inside my head and finally I say “Tate! why haven’t you put on your shoes? we are going to be late!!” He looks up at me with tears in his eyes and says “But Mom, you’ve never shown me how…….” …….And my heart breaks in two. I later sob in the bathroom and tell myself how horrible I am, but for now I just kneel down and quietly show him how to loosen the straps… I really have never shown him how, I realize. I apologize and we strike a deal that I will slow down and show him how to do more things, so then he can do them on his own.

TODAY I woke up to the little one sneaking into our bed…. the sun was rising and the sky was pink. He falls back asleep and I feel his sweet breath on my cheek. I look over at my husband and catch him smiling. I smile too. We have everything we ever wanted. Everything we ever hoped and dreamed and asked for is right here… it is surrounding us. We get up and drink coffee together and watch the boys run around squealing…. At some point one of us glances at the clock…. time to start the day…..

It’s in this moment that I realize…..

When my feet hit the floor every morning, it is me that decides what kind of day it will be. Even the days that I am mopping up vomit, shoving on mismatched socks, making appointments and feeling the pull of the ‘never ending week’…… Even those days I can decide to get up, take a bow, send a picture to my mom friends that will make them smile and feel less alone. Even on those days I can take off my sweats, put on a dress, turn on some swing music and teach them the twist. Even on those days I get to be here, right where I always wanted to be…. next to my babies… watching them grow up.

I never actively choose to have a ‘never ending week’ day.

I just sometimes forget that I am living a ‘never ending weekend’ life.

And maybe the real magic is taking a Monday and turning it into Saturday.

cheers loves!

My becoming a mom birthday

I had a dream I was holding two babies.
I felt the weight of them in my arms, smelled their sweet little bald heads.
It was so real and I lie awake the next morning trying to remember every detail.
I rolled over, nudged Dan and told him.
“I had a dream I was holding two babies….”

We had always known we wanted a house full of kids.
It was the reason we were introduced in the first place!
We had both answered the question of ‘how many kids do you want?’ the exact same way to our mutual friend Christina….
Dan, when he went to college with her in Rhode Island.
“Enough to field my own baseball team.”

And me, sitting across from her in a bar in California 3 years later.
“9. So I can have a little baseball team…”

Christina looked across at me and said…. “You need to meet my friend.”

And so it was that she married us 7 years later in the mountains of Leavenworth on a sunny September day.
…Approximately 5 minutes later we got started on that baseball team.

You are led to believe through your teenage years, that when you are ready to have a baby, then poof, you get pregnant.
For some that is true.
I had taken probably a hundred pregnancy tests in the 7 months we had been married.
In hindsight 7 months is not a long period of time.
But anyone who has been there, knows that when you are longing for a baby… time has a way of being excruciatingly long.
Every month that goes by and ends with a period is a failure.
Everyone asks if you are pregnant and you have to fake a smile when you say “not yet!”
Every where you turn is a round belly or chubby cheeked baby or a facebook announcement.
You switch lines at the grocery store because you bought a box of pregnancy tests from that lady last week and for some reason, her seeing you buy a second box would be the worst.

So when I nudged Dan and told him about my dream and he told me to “take a pregnancy test…”
A little part of me didn’t want to.
I wanted to stay in the dream and not be disappointed with another ‘NOT PREGNANT” stick to add to my under the bathroom counter trash can.
So when I peed on the stick that morning and put it on the counter and went out to feed the chickens, I ALMOST didn’t want to see what it said.
I wanted to go about my day without knowing so the hope of it being positive would still be there.
So when I finally made my way back to the bathroom and peeked over at the stick and read the words PREGNANT…. I almost didn’t believe it.
I sat on my bathroom floor and cried tears of joy.
I waited all day long for Dan to come home to tell him in person that he was going to be a Dad.
The look on his face, I will never forget it.

3 weeks later we were sitting in an ultrasound room when our doctor found the second heartbeat and announced to us that we were having….. TWINS!

My babies turn 5 today.
I can’t remember the time before I knew them.
Oh sure, I remember things I did.
Places I went.
I vaguely remember sleeping in….
But I can not wrap my brain around a time where my ears didn’t know the sound of their names.
That my eyes didn’t know every detail in their faces.
That my nose didn’t know the smell of their hair.
Was there a time that I didn’t know the difference between a ‘I’m hurt’ cry and a ‘I’m hungry’ cry?
Have my arms ever not known the warmth of their bodies or my hands ever not reached instinctively for theirs?
Was my stomach ever flat and not covered in stripes?
Was there a time when I didn’t hear the name ‘Mom’ called out 100 times a day?
If there was, I just can’t recall.

On the way to school today they had me tell them the story of the day they were born.
They ask for this story over and over again and they squeal with delight when I tell them the part about the hospital security having to “shhhhhh” their dad when he went running through the halls yelling “TWO BOYS!!!! I HAVE TWO BOYS!!!!!!”
I tell them when I looked in their eyes for the first time how I laughed out loud because all of those 9 months of wondering who you would be…. and there you were!
Of course it was you!
I knew you.

They ask me who liked milk the most? (Henry) and who crawled first? (Tate).
…And did you like us living in your belly? (most of the time)
…And what was your favorite Thanksgiving? (The one when I got to hold them for the first time)
…And were you ALWAYS my Mommy? they asked today.

“Yes. Even before you were born, I knew I was going to be your Mommy.”

And on this day that these boys turn 5, I realize it is also the birthday of becoming a Mom.
I wrote down this story today to remind me….
For today…. when its easy to reflect on all of the happy times…
But also for the hard days…. when hearing “Mom!” yelled over and over makes me want to hide in my bedroom and cover my ears.

Remember all of those days when all you wanted was to be someone’s Mom.
Remember what a gift it is that you are now.

5 seems so big compared to those tiny babies.
They are so able and smart, funny and kind.
But 5 is still little.
They still climb in my lap for snuggles and need me to help them with their shoes sometimes.

5 years as a Mom, and I have learned so much.
I can navigate fevers and book swim lessons.
I can kiss away boo boos and pack a balanced lunch.
But I still have so much to learn.
I am not confident in my math homework-helping capabilities.
I am certain I will be too nosy when it comes to girls.
I still haven’t figured out how to get them all dressed and out the door in the mornings without breaking a sweat.

But one thing is certain.
I am proud of these two beaming boys.
I know for sure that they brighten this world.
I know that in 5 years that they have changed me for the better.
I know that the next 5 years will go by even faster.
And the next even faster than that.
I sure am glad I woke up from that dream and peed on a stick so I could get a front seat.
Happy Birthday Henry and Tate, and thanks for making me a Mom.

next up…. the year we took our lives back…..

It’s not easy, but it’s simple.

Once upon a time I had a job.
A job that paid money.
This job was teaching people how to ride horses.

Riding a horse can be as complicated (and expensive) as you want to make it.
You can literally spend your entire life and hundreds of thousands of dollars
on riding lessons, gadgets, hospital bills therapy and still be thrilled when your horse just simply comes to you when you call it.

This is also of course, parenting.

Riding a horse can also be as simple as throwing your leg over and trying to stay on.
It can be running out your back door, jumping on your pony bareback, galloping down a hill and squealing with delight as she puts her head down to eat grass and you go flying through the air into the dirt.
Sometimes pure survival is exhilarating.

Again… parenting.

When I was a riding instructor the hardest students to teach were adults.
Particularly adult women.
Even more specifically… Moms.
And of course, they were the ones who wanted it the most.
They would do anything if they could just ‘get good’ at this thing that they wanted to ‘get good’ at.
They would come to lessons announcing that they had read articles, found a horse back riding centered fitness class, subscribed to a riding magazine… bought a $2,000 saddle from a man with a french accent….
Surly this is the week it all comes together and becomes ‘easier’.
And I loved teaching these women.
I really did.
Even before becoming a Mom myself I understood that this time they were taking for themselves was important and sacred.
I loved hearing their stories and goals and fears and I loved being a part of the journey of them learning something new.

But of course,
In order for them to truly feel the joy of cantering a horse without whiplash and awkward saddle/rear slapping…
They would have to do the unthinkable.
The one thing that most Moms simply cannot do…
Their bodies are are so out of practice, that they have actually lost the physical ability to do this thing…
The impossible thing…

They would have to….

Relax.

Let go.

Not care so much.

Not overthink every movement, second guess every step.
Not overwhelm themselves with all of the opinions, the ‘tips’, the insane amount of information available out there.
They would have to stop yelling over their shoulder at me “Is this right? Am I doing it right????” every step of the way.
They would have to start trusting their body to just follow along and react.
“My hands? do you want them here? what about here? is this right????”
As their instructor I would patiently point out that the problem wasn’t their hands at all… it was that they were thinking too much about their hands.

This is me, parenting. And maybe every Mom I know.
Please for the love of God, just someone tell me how to do this right.

Kids are the easiest to teach.

They have little to no expectations… most of them are just happy to be in a barn petting a horse.
They want to learn, but they are more concerned about the steps to take to make it happen, not so much how they look doing it.
They aren’t worried about what might happen if the end result is achieved differently than instructed.
I had a student once who’s pony spooked and took off with her…
Her mom sat white as a ghost next to me, her finger hovering over 911 on her cell phone.
I was calmly but loudly giving instructions to pull the reins and say “whoa!”
The little girl responds by yelling out with delight…. “Is this what galloping feels like?!?!”

So what is it?

What is it that happens between the somewhat out of control gleeful gallop that feels so free and good…
And the paralyzing question of “Am I doing this right?”

Is it just life experience?
Knowing that hearts and ribs can break and the fear of what COULD happen takes over the joy of just being in the moment?
Is it because we learn to put value on moments?
I paid for horseback riding lessons…
I need to learn to prove it was worth it.
We said we were going on vacation this weekend…
by golly we are going to have fun even if it kills us!

My experience with horses and child rearing is that the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle.

Somewhere between the squealing little girl with wind blown hair and the Mom with pilates legs that don’t bend …

I learned through the years that the Mom lessons sometimes went best when I jumped on a horse myself, opened up the gate, and took them gallivanting in the woods.
I’d ask them questions about where they grew up instead of telling them how to make a 20 meter circle.
The freedom of not overthinking and just feeling the rhythm almost always unlocked their stiffness and before you knew it they were smiling from ear.
It was as if they had remembered the words to an old song.

I learned that the fearless kids still needed boundaries and goals and direction.
Their lessons often went best when given a upfront guarantee of some kind of adventure or ‘free time fun’ after the lesson was complete.
“If you want to jump, you need to learn how to go straight….” I would tell them.

But I watched time and time again as those very same without-a-care kids grew up,
little by little…. the ‘fears’ would creep in…
A sudden realization that another student was ‘better’ then them.
More natural.
“Well, of course she won, SHE has a better horse.” They might say.
“Can you tell me what it takes to win the BLUE ribbon?” Asked the 14 year old who at 8 wanted to do nothing but comb the horses tail and pick hooves.
Eventually the need for some sort of validated success is craved.

I still have my old ribbons from horse shows past.
I’m still waiting for my motherhood trophy.

I find myself navigating stiff mom-lesson-moments in my own parenting journey.
Researching ‘OK to wake’ clocks.
It worked for so and so…it will work for me.
Second guessing myself in decisions…
Am I a ‘time out’ mom?
A ‘1-2-3 magic’ mom?
Should they be eating more organically grass fed beef?

But I also find joy in my wind-blown-hair-mom moments.
Get in the car kids we are going to climb a mountain today!
You know what, yes, yes we can bake zucchini bread.
This school feels right to me.
Let’s stay in pajamas and build forts.
Hell yeh, we can get Happy Meals on the way home.

Parenting is just a life long lesson on how to stay with the horse.
Finding your balance and creating rhythm.
Keeping your heels down not by forcing, but by relaxing and sinking down into them.
Keeping your eyes up, but not by staring, but SEEING what is surrounding you.
Trust yourself.
You know when it feels right, no one has to tell you.
Get out of the arena.
Go jump on bareback and gallop in a field…
Pack your kids up and go somewhere new.

A little wind blown hair never hurt anybody:-)

next up…. my mom birthday….

Kneeding and rising

Some of my earliest memories are sitting around a big wooden table with my Mom, sisters, Aunts, Grandma and Great Grandma, kneeding dough.

Aprons with flour down the front, heavy rolling pins, floral cheesecloths, and always that gentle rhythm of kneeding the dough…

I was 6 when I won my first county fair ribbon.
The local newspaper did an article about it.
4th place for ‘Rachel’s quick french bread’.
I was so proud.
Standing around that table with all of those strong women.
And I was becoming one of them.
I beamed.

Even now the smell of bread in the oven catapults me to that farmhouse kitchen in Rock Creek, Oregon.
My Grandma’s house that her husband and sons built for her.
It was always full of music and stories and something in the oven.
Stories of my Grandma and Grandpa having dances in their old barn.
Of my Great Grandma traveling west in a covered wagon to teach in one room schoolhouse.
Of my Dad and his brothers and sisters working the farm, getting into mischief, growing up.

Stories of baking.
Always the baking.

Grandma would tell us how before electricity, she used to put her hand in the wood stove to know if it was the right temperature.
How making 8 loaves in the morning was how she started each day.
Standing in her Nike sneakers, I would watch her veiny hands expertly work each loaf and let me know when to add more flour.
“Just keep kneeding.” She would tell me. “You’ll know when it is ready.”

“Like this?” I would say. Pushing my whole body into it, over and over, my forearms burning.

“Yes. Just like that. Now, we let it rise.”

The loaves were put into pans and covered with a musty smelling dish towel.
Then my sister and I were free to go swing on Grandma’s porch, or pick strawberries in her garden, walk down to the creek to look for frogs or twirl in her living room while her fingers bounced around on her accordion.

It’s the rising that is the most important step.
It’s where the magic happens.
If you fail to let it rise long enough, the bread will probably result in a hefty dental bill should you try to bite through it.
“Let it be.” My Grandma would say.
A couple hours would pass and we would marvel at the puffed up loaves that had doubled in size.
She would pop into her oven and shoo us back outside.

When our cheeks were flushed and our hair tangled, the smell of bread baking would find us.
We would migrate back, led by our noses and sit eagerly on the barstools waiting for a slice.
We would eat an entire loaf together.

My Grandma was pure sunshine.
Everyone’s favorite person.
You would feel like she was hugging you, even if she was across the room.
In her 86 years she would climb Mountain peaks, ski backcountry, run marathons, and raise 4 kids.
She was Captain of a dragon boat team, organized a senior walking group that met every morning, rain or shine.
Was a member of the Mazamas.
Met the love of her life in her 80’s, when she joined a bowling league.
She clogged at Nordic festivals, biked from Portland to the coast 4 times, and enjoyed her cold beer at the local pub.
And she was FAMOUS for her homemade bread.

The years went by.
My Dad got a new job and we moved away.
I got older.
I became busy, as 16 year olds do.
Pretty soon I only went to Grandma’s kitchen to bake on holidays, and family trips.
And sometimes I wouldn’t even go then.
I had a tournament I couldn’t miss.
A sleepover that was too important.
Homework, friends, plans.
Such important plans at the time.
I want to go back and sit next to that 16 year old.
I want to tell her to get in her red Pontiac…
Put $20 in the gas tank…
Pop in Alanis Morisette…
And take a drive down to Portland to visit your Grandma.
There is another tournament next weekend.
Another date with a guy that ends up being not worth it.
There’s actually a lot of those coming.
All of the plans can wait.

I miss her.
I want to go back and sit on that stool in her kitchen.
Bake with her.
Ask her what my Dad was like when he was 4.
What her favorite perfume is.
Did she do everything she wanted in life?

I wonder if she knows that I have her rolling pin.
That Dan kept his promise to her.
That we have our own little boys and they gather around our own wooden table now.

I sprinkle the flour and give them their own little loaves to kneed.
They poke their pudgy fingers in the dough, and push it out, roll it around, bring it all together.
I watch them.
“Like this Mommy?”

I understand now.

This is my time I get to shape them.
Get my hands on them.
Kneed all of the love and traditions and life into them.

They want to be with me now.
They want to be with me all of the time.
They are looking to me to show them the world.
Baking in our kitchen, there is nowhere they would rather be.

They will get older.
Busy.
They will make plans and have their own lives.

And as much as my hands will ache to be holding on to them….
just as I am sure my Grandmothers were for me.
I will have to let them be.
Let them rise.

They will find their way back.
Back to a wooden table.
With flour smudged on their own kids cheeks and an old marble rolling pin.
There will be stories and laughter and of course…….
Fresh baked bread.

next up….. things that grow….