Friday, September 22, 2017

to have and to hold

On Sunday, standing in the grocery store checkout line I bought a copy of the SLC Tribune.  Beach returning from her ritual sweep along the row of gumball machines tipped her head with curiosity.

"What do you need a paper for?" She questioned.  Probably thinking something crafty lay ahead.  My answer, I want to hold it.

The newspaper.
A cup of coffee.
A book- but the right book. Thick vanilla pages in a soft waxy binding that bends in your hands without breaking the spine.
The edge of a blanket.
The hem of a hoodie.
The foot of a sleeping cat. Although that one doesn't ever last very long.  The cats aren't too tolerant of my thumb pushing between their toes for more than a minute.
A good deck of old playing cards.
Wooden scrabble tiles.
Cinnamon Bears.
Lake water on the side of the boat.

I am a "holder" a "keeper".  Like most moms, I am a vessel of memory. I hold hands, crayon drawings, tiny candy wrappers, places in line, sticky melting cups of forgotten ice cream, the seat of a wobbly bike, ticket stubs, the edge of clean sheets over the far corner of the bed, soggy stuffed animals, used tissues, plates of cookies, bowls of soup, bleeding noses, the leash of a dog, and a thousand doors- open and closed.

When people marry they take vows before witnesses.  Vows like to honor and cherish, to have and to hold...When a woman becomes a mother she makes no such promises.  Most don't have to. 

Being a holder or a keeper for your kids is not a chore or a sacrifice, some of the work is, but the calling itself is not. It grants you the power to stand in more than one world at a time. You live your life and you live in theirs too.  And if you do it right, into the lives of their children, and their children's children.

Mothering is not a war between your needs and theirs.  You aren't giving yourself up or away.  You are adding lives together, like marriage.   

Motherhood is a tree with roots and branches, leaves and fruit.  Bows break, leaves fall, fruit ripens.  The branches grow to the warmth of the light and the roots grow to the coolness of the water.  My kids are my roots as often as I am theirs.  We grow together.  We branch out.  We sway in the wind. 

A million things can happen to a tree over its lifetime.  It can be cut down or it can nurture life and grow a forest.

On Monday morning the newspaper sat on the sofa.  Beach picked it up asking, "How was your paper, mom?"  Her smile breaking into the corners of her eyes.

"Really good. Perhaps today I will even read it."

I hold blue covers, pencils, library books, science projects, the third strand of hair in a braid.  I hold car keys, the tops of cranky bathroom stall doors, flashlights, bottle caps, desert stones, and bleached out cow bones.  But the best thing I hold is the love I have for all of them.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


 By the time I peeled myself out from under the covers, ribbons of sunlight were already running long across the grass. 

"Your coffee is cold," BC called from the kitchen. 

In my mind I countered him, yeah my waitress sucks.  It was the response, or one like, he would expect to hear from me.  

I said nothing. Instead I took the cold cup coupling it with my computer looking for the answers to questions I sent out last night before I went to bed. 

One was there.  One was not. 

Is a friend who is in Mexico City okay? Yes, for now and trying to head home. That is a huge relief.  

The other, the less important one, unanswered.  It wasn't really question anyway.  It was more of a instinctual reaction.  Like the sound you make when you get punched in the gut.  A blow you were expecting, steeled yourself against, and you make that noise anyway.... the kind of punch that comes with a price tag.

It was a BIG tag and yet a fair price: sum of travel and lodging for a college show case camp for Beach and a few of her mates.

Late at night after work I had pulled up the e mail detailing the final expenses.  It was after a long practice for Beach dragging along her slowly healing hamstring (I was reminded it could be worse!).

Believe it or not, this is not about the actual money amount.  In the end I know (by the faith of others) it all works out- or at least it has in the past.  It's about the isolation of being the person it falls on. There isn't someone to turn to say, hey would you look at this with me for a moment? 

BC is better left out of the details.  That is why I pay all the cost related to gym on my own or at least try to.  That's why as Beach and BC watched TV I sat alone staring at the computer letting it sink in.

Sometimes being the lone gym parent in the family feels like you are standing at the bottom of a slot canyon catching boulders rolling over the sides while everyone else enjoys the scenery.

Some of the stones are tiny, they float like dust. Others are good sized rocks.  Then there are those like the one last night, those that fall with weight and bad timing. 

Standing on unstable ground already holding the cost of new warm-ups, a new routine, 2 regional camps, a season of travel meets, monthly tuition, much needed car repairs, and medical costs...

As the trees stretched out, their shadows broke up the streaking sun.  BC left for work but not before he brought me a new, hot cup of coffee. 

I am grateful Beach is here.  That she has this chance.  That she is surrounded by amazing people everyday. 

I adjust my load of stones so I can hold the relief of a friend's safety and BC's love where I can see them better. Feel the weight of what matters pulling me forward instead of letting what doesn't drag me down. 

now reading: Five Kingdoms Rogue Knight

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

we are here

Yesterday Beach and I loaded up a bag and we biked to the pool.  I said it was a long awaited return and I meant it.

The pool used to be the heart of our homeschooling life.

We swam almost daily.  There was something so decadent about swimming in the middle of the day. About walking (or biking) to the pool rain or shine.  Cutting past the green edge of the elementary school where Beach was supposed to go. 

The school that withdrawing from set her heart free.  

In the mornings we would read in my bed and do math in the kitchen. Cover a chapter of history or science then hit the pool.

Return home with wet hair to sip hot chocolate.  Eat lunch with chlorine kissed skin.  Fall into the afternoon with the memory of cutting through the water. 

Beach took swim lessons and when she out grew those she joined swim team. I spent hours sitting cross legged on the benches lesson planning while she swam.  But as gymnastics grew it crowded out pool time.  First to go was swim team.  Then the daily swim became a weekly thing and then it disappeared. 

The last few years I have tried to get her return to the pool.  Penciled in pool time into our schedule and yet it was never a good time for her.   

So I respectfully gave up.  Then suddenly out of the blue Beach announced she wanted to be a triathlete.

The swim bag, gym bag days <3

Maybe not out of the blue, more out of injury. Her hamstring injury isn't improving or if it is, it is healing incredibly slowly (as they do).  I think it has given her a chance to look ahead.  To look past her life as a gymnast and down the road to her life post gymnastics.

A couple of years ago she saw a news clip on young marathoners.  At the time she announced that was what she was going to do when she was done doing gymnastics. 

It reminded me of when she was 3 and asked to get her ears pierced.  I told her she had wait until she was 6.  She never asked again.  Not a word until the morning of her 6th birthday when she asked, so when are we going?  Going where?  You know, to get my ears pierced.

I'm not sure where or when she hit on the idea of the triathlon but it makes a lot of sense for her.
She has always loved the water.  She feels safe there.  She feels free.  And the biking part, my god she loves biking!
For now we have found 2 days, based on her gym load, that she is willing to swim; Mondays and Thursdays.

After swimming yesterday we rode home with wet hair. Down 10th West the way we used to.  We made smoothies and popped popcorn. She iced while we listened to an audio book in my bed. 

It felt like it used to feel before gymnastics turned the tide but I know it isn't that.  She isn't moving back, she is moving forward.


reading now: Five Kingdoms, Sky Raiders