Posts Tagged ‘Georgia Grace’

Nearly full

August 27th, 2007    -    5 Comments

Tonight I laid awake for a long time. I went into my daughter’s bedroom and watched her sleep. I saw the deep shadows and the midnight glow. She did not stir.

I went because the nights are numbered, and I do not know the count.

Making childhood last

August 13th, 2007    -    16 Comments

Sunday was Georgia’s 8th birthday. We had a costume party, a pageant of make-believe featuring her in the dual leads as both herself, coyly turning 8, and as Lucy Pevensie, regally self-possessed as the Queen of Narnia. For weeks, Georgia was lost in lustrous imaginings of this wish come true.

She is, at this cusp, the very best of all. Still sweetly a child pretending to be everything she is and could be, yet so nearly a tween. But then, being the best of all is what I’ve always found her to be; it’s what I’ve found each year, after the anguish of anticipation, under the opaque folds of doubt and uncertainty. Every year is the best year yet.

How I wish they would last! How I wish it all wasn’t so soon to pass. How well I know better.

It’s with that yearning, that wistful backward glance, that I offer this modest summary for your consideration.

5 Ways to Make Childhood Last

1. Wake up. Let your children wake you up. Better yet, let them drag you out of bed. How much of your life – how much of their lives – do you spend in this ceaseless struggle to get more sleep? Give up already. I promise you, one day too soon the house will grow empty. Then sleep will once more evade. Seize the day! Seize the night! This divine mission to bring us into full awareness of our lives is the reason your child has come. So crack a lid and get this party started. If you could just once see the exhilarating potential they wake to every day, you’d know why children don’t want to waste a minute to slumber.

2. Break the rules. Brownies for breakfast. Painting your hair. Jumping on the beds. Staying up late and missing school. Adventure! Daring! Build your house on rules, but then have the good sense to barrel right through them from time to time. Breaking rules brings your home to life. It brings you to life!

3. Get on the floor. For one hour a day, get down on the floor and surrender to play. Not play on your terms – where you choose the game, control the action, and make corrections – play on their terms. Set a kitchen timer to keep track. Your children need one hour of undistracted attention from you each day. The trouble is, we spend 16 hours avoiding it.

4. Hold hands. Kisses grow scarce. Cuddles are outgrown. Your scrumptious love bugs will soon be parceling out the affection in piddling doses. How then to keep close? Hold hands at every chance. It’s the last, best way to stay in touch. It’s practical, it’s intimate, it’s precious, and it’s the ageless sign of peaceful coexistence. And when your child finally lets go of your fingertips, you’ll know one thing for sure. All this time you thought you were guiding them forward, they were really leading you here. To the point of letting go.

5. Say it a million times over. I love you. I’m proud of you. You’re funny. Good idea! I like it. That’s perfect. Yes! You make me smile. I missed you. Good choice! I had fun with you today. I believe you. I’m glad to see you. Let’s play. Blow me a kiss. Sit on my lap. Let me tell you a story. Once there was a little girl who turned into a queen. Happy birthday Lucy! You can be anything and anyone you wish.

How I know she’s mine

August 9th, 2007    -    3 Comments

When she went away for the weekend, she left her dolls a list of things to do.

Chores 
Make beds 
Make breakfast 
Get dressed 

The future calling

August 8th, 2007    -    3 Comments

I m at the airp. I don’t want 2 leave at
all and I feel sick like I am gonna barf:-&
I wish we lived here sooooooo bad
I miss u and the Molly see u soon Love Georgia

About a month ago my 7-year-old picked up my cell phone and said, “Mommy can I text you?” and I said, “Honey, you don’t know how to text.” What I should have said is “I don’t know how to text,” because I was wrong about her. What do I know? Where have I been? About a month ago she was born and how she got this far already is completely beyond accounting. I look at her now, I look at her beauty, her freshness, her supreme inalterable isness and I’m weak with it still, helpless, humbled, awed by the immensity and inexpressibility of love.

Life in 10

August 2nd, 2007    -    No Comments


My husband and daughter just left to spend a long weekend with my in-laws in the Midwest. Presiding over the morning hustle, prodding the motion along, I saw how clearly we are balanced on the brink, how surely life teeters up and then totters, ahem, in the other direction.

1. Did you choose your outfit?
2. Did you pack your suitcase?
3. Did you get dressed all by yourself?
4. Did you brush your teeth?
5. Did you make your bed, feed your pets, and wheel your own luggage to the car?
6. Did you remember to check in online?
7. Did you pay your last two driving tickets?
8. Did you get your new bifocals?
9. Did you pack your cholesterol pills?
10. After losing track, leaving late, doubling back, jumping the line and racing to the gate, did you get there on time?*

Of the three members in our little tribe, one is certainly on the ascent.

* Technically yes, but I don’t want to know the details.

Empty chair

August 1st, 2007    -    5 Comments

Here’s a little charmer for you. This chair is up for grabs at my Saturday garage sale. My dad made it for Georgia when she was who knows how tiny. Dad is gone now. Georgia is no longer what you’d call tiny.

This is the kind of thing that many people carry along much farther than my towrope goes. And I know why. Just looking at it catches my breath. So much sentiment. In truth, far more sentiment than you can use. Dad was the kind of fellow who liked to tinker with the idea of family. He carved and tinkered and sanded and polished with the idea of us all, at his workbench 1,000 miles away, and then the two times a year he caught sight of us, he scowled over a crossword in his lounger until we went away again. I don’t fault him. I know too well the feeling.

So the chair came by parcel post, with an urgent letter before and an impatient phone call after, long before Georgia was old enough to sit in it. Oh later, I’m sure, she sat in it for a bit, but never for as long as we all held onto the idea of her sitting, the sweet, imagined picture of her sitting in a chair handmade by her grandpa. Her dolls have been sitting in it since.

This morning I picked it up and put it in the garage and snapped this picture on the way. I remembered a story about another empty chair.

When I was 16 I asked for a chair for my birthday. A little white rattan chair. Thirty-five years later I wonder just what kind of teenage girl I was, asking for a chair on my 16th birthday? (Oh yes, I was me. Of course I was looking for a place to sit.)

In my cramped family and my crowded house, I asked for my own place to perch, and I got it. That chair then followed me into dorm rooms and apartments, into my first marriage and its three successively larger houses where no one ever occupied it anymore. When all the reasons to keep that life going got up and left, I emptied the big house on Avalon Drive. I had a big garage sale and put the little chair out front. That day, a man paid me in crumpled bills, then hoisted the chair over his shoulder, and rode off with it on a bicycle! I watched it go, certain that by that evening, someone would be sitting in the little chair once more. I felt good, the best I’d felt in a very long time.

Like all ritual, all ceremony, the weeks you prepare for a garage sale deliver the real goods. When you open the closet doors, dive into the jumbled drawers, and stare down the gritty shelves; when you see the dust that you live with, it reminds you that all is dust.

Soon, some little one will sit in this chair. My heart brims with the good of it.

Work food

July 29th, 2007    -    3 Comments


With endless respect for those who must truly work for food, these are the words that came to me over the last week as I was away at a meditation retreat. Will work for food.

I think this is the kind of work that we most yearn for: the work that gratifies in the most immediate and essential way. The vital work of life, deep beneath and beyond the piffling stuff of livelihood.

That is the kind of work we do on a cushion, sitting for eight hours a day, at dawn and on through the dark, sitting in our sweat and tears, past boredom and pain, through fatigue and frustration, long past quitting time until time itself quits. We sit and sit and sit and grind away at the rock wall in our head and when a bell rings we eat. We work and we eat. The work is never easy. The food is never better. When the night falls, the day is so completely done. Not one hunger remains.

And although we call this a retreat, it is not the retreat we would choose if we could, once again, vacate our lives for a fleeting pass at pleasure. It is a real job, and like every real job I’ve got, it is damn difficult.

But the one here at home is the most difficult of all. Taking all that hard-won ease off the cushion and back into the cluttered kitchen. Past the laundry hampers. Down the list on the refrigerator. Perhaps that is why, after a half-day at home, my daughter tugged at me and said, “Mommy, it seems like you left all your happiness at the Zen Center.”

Honk. Honk.

Mommy’s home, this time Mommy’s really home, where she works for food. And the food here is what she loves most of all, Georgia, because it is love. Pinky promise.

And pass the pudding to Barbara Karkabi at the Houston Chronicle, who filed this profile while I was off in the trenches. You can see she got the “juggling” part right.

Carry a tune

July 18th, 2007    -    13 Comments

I sang my songs again and again until a long time later I realized I had forgotten the words. By then, she began singing.

– Momma Zen, Chapter 6 “Sing Song”

Please vote for your favorite name for the new girl band fronted by you know who.



Mummy may I?

July 4th, 2007    -    1 Comment


Yes, you may.

Dog days

June 18th, 2007    -    1 Comment


It is summer now. Will I ever stop crying?

Not for the reasons you think. Sure, summer demands an adjustment of time, energy and expectations. It has its own rhythm; it has its own pace; it has its own flavor. It is immensely full. And although there is an illusion that time stands still in the summer, it’s just not so. Everything goes and grows, leaps and falls and my job is simply to . . . weep.

Saturday was Doggie Day here in our small town. Georgia went to the park with her dad and our dog Molly to run a few loops through the canine obstacle course. So impressed was Georgia with her own masterful handling that she came straightaway home and conceived her own summer enterprise: Doggie Daycare Training, her own dog school, offered every Saturday in our front yard on a training track concocted out of a laundry rack and empty boxes. She drew a flyer, she set the price, she meticulously realized a scheme out of nothing but innocence and self-confidence. And then her dad, motivated by love, stammered a word of caution, dealt the mortal wound of a well-meant doubt, and she fell all apart.

When I came home after all of this had happened, she approached only slowly to show me the poster of her abandoned proposition. Without thinking, I nodded. “Looks good,” I said. Her look of incredulity riveted me as she double checked:

“You think this is a good idea?”

And then it all came back, every moment of trembling dread, watching her wobble toward the stairs, teeter toward the slide, totter on two wheels while I had nothing but my breaking heart to clutch and hold, watching and trusting, letting her go, letting her fall, and dusting her off when all was said and done.

We copied the flyers. Her daddy took her around the block to put them on telephone poles.

“Listen up for the phone!” she called back to me as she headed out. She was twelve feet tall.

These are the dog days of our summer. The risks are greater, the flights are farther, the falling is as hard as ever. I weep even before they’ve begun.

And as instructed, I listen for the phone.

Wheels

June 14th, 2007    -    No Comments


We’ve had an ambulation revelation. Georgia can ride a scooter. Georgia can ride a scooter to school. It’s not that hard; all she has to do is this:

Puhlease, pooleeze, pleese, pleez, puleeease, Mommy, pppoooleisze, pouleise, pleeease?

She leaves me no edgewise as she straps on her helmet and pops atop the hot pink ride. We set off down the slope with me at a galloping stride just to keep her in sight.

The car! The driveway! The curb! The crosswalk! The bump! The thistle! The nub! The wisp!

I squawk nonstop warnings as her wheels squeek on ahead. And I smile, glad to see that the farther she goes, the smaller she looks in her baby bicycle helmet, Princess backpack and Hello Kitty anklets. In truth, she’s already outgrown all those things, but I’m glad that I get one more private viewing, one more one-man-show.

Her school won’t allow the scooters to stay for the day, so I take the wheels and wobble my way back up the hill. I’m pumping up the homestretch when I see my husband’s car approach. He slows his pristine, all-electric, pride-and-joy to a stop and rolls down the window.

“There’s nothing I won’t stoop to,” I say by way of explanation. He thinks I’m complaining, but I’m not.

Turnabout

June 11th, 2007    -    1 Comment

It was, for all of us, a peculiar night. Something about this last gasp of spring: a bit restless, a tad eager, a wee hurried to reach the full stretch of summer. I woke and stayed awake in the deep darkness of the small hours, then submerged into underwater slumber through the 6:30 a.m. alarm. Finally up and walking past Georgia’s door, I see a square of paper on the floor. She’s made a sign in red ballpoint to intercept my morning bee-line to the coffeemaker:

Mommy, Please
come in
I’ve beed
wh waiting
for you all
night!

Is this how suddenly it passes? After only 7 years, hardly 7 years, barely 7 years, she is now the vigilant one? The one to wait and watch for the night to lift? For the sleepers to stir? For the ticks to tock toward morning’s reunion? Later, walking the dog, I found a tiny bird’s nest. It was empty; the baby had flown.

Lucky Penny

June 10th, 2007    -    2 Comments

luckypennyI’m in the middle of my own meltdown, a tantrum, a typhoon in the kitchen. Cabinet doors slam; the walls shake. Georgia looks up. She’s paralyzed; the storm leaves her no safe ground. She fingers Daddy’s loose change on the counter. Then, with only magic at her disposal, she asks.

“Mommy, do you want a lucky penny?”

Why yes, I do, my love, my saving grace. I will put it right here.

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