Tonight I’m sitting across a small table from my daughter. I’ve been working all day and have had little to eat; I’m famished enough to order and then devour a corporate coffeeshop’s blueberry scone and roasted tomato sandwich – too hungry to do anything else.
My daughter and I talk about school, the upcoming quarter. We talk about what might come after that. And I tell her, my eyes stinging a bit, how amazing it is to watch her grow. I can’t really get the words out but it’s like, this is a person whose opinions and desires are getting more pointed, more developed, and more adult than I would have guessed. She is as always fiercer but also imbued with a deep-seated compassion I do not recognize, it may have been helped by a few of us but it has an unshakeable foundation past my understanding.
And I don’t say all these things, but still she doesn’t see what the big deal is. I tell her, “Well… it’s like, when you were two. You know. The stuff you cared about. Like you didn’t want us to make you wear a hat. Or you REALLY wanted a bowl of chocolate ice cream – “
She immediately lifts her head, and gives me that tiger-eyed stare and says, “Mom… have I really changed so much?” her voice the dry tone, the perfect comedic, sarcastic, self-effacing bit. I dissolve into laughter and resist the urge – it comes daily! – to reach out and pinch her. WHY is this my child?
My son is at the counter, ordering a cookie. He is leggy and thin, his jeans on their last wear if I can somehow catch them away the next laundry cycle. I have made myself only say it once. Only tell them once. Okay, twice. What does it look like to the community if a tailor has children who look unkempt and shabby? I can tell you my kids DO NOT G.A.F. ABOUT THIS. Which also makes me laugh.
My health is pretty good. My wrist and shoulder hurt; from clerical work, from knitting, from sewing. I am tired and a bit worn out and I’ve accidentally overdone it for the season. No surprises there, really. In all – considering I’m balancing out-of-home work for the first time in a baker’s dozen years – well, I’ve done rather well!
It is so rainy and wet outside – and my car so damp and foggy inside – that the drive from the coffee shop to pick up my daughter’s friend, is a tense one (for me). After about ten minutes somehow the heater is working so the glass is all clear, and the car oppressively hot. I can’t express how comforting winters are here. I live in this rain-drenched corner of the world and I adore it.
I wonder how much of the rest of it I will ever see? I wonder where my children will go, what they will do? They have developed such quick wit, such strength. I suppose that is how most parents must feel, on balance. Parents that let their kids have their wings, at any rate.
Late evening, home. Five feet to my right Nels and his neighborhood friend play Tic-Tac-Toe, their pallet bed festooned with all the necessities: books, pen and paper, a small lantern that throws a constellation upon the walls, the ceiling. Their giggles are earnest and comfortable; as if they’d been lifelong friends, instead of just these last six weeks or so. Grilled cheese and tomato for a late-night snack; the cats are settled in, the dog has had his evening walk.
Tomorrow will be another day of cooking, of wrapping presents, of music and the energy of children. Somehow it all gives me life, although the days fly by a little quickly for my comfort.
I read about your family and am reminded of when my kids were their age. I love that you take the time to enjoy them. If turning back the clock was possible, I would do it in a split second even knowing the agony of the divorce, the grieving of the death of my marriage and the dream of spending my “golden” years with my family in tact. It’s been 15 years since the divorce and I’ve gone on with my life. I finished raising my children and have been so proud of their accomplishments. Sadly, this time last year my oldest son died suddenly and this Christmas season has been different and difficult. I wish your family much joy and happiness this Christmas.
Thank you so much for your comment. I am so sad to hear about your son. I imagine that makes for a very painful holiday. I hope you find many loved ones, friends, and yes even strangers who give you so much TLC this holiday. <3