pull up a chair

where wisdom gathers, poetry unfolds and divine light is sparked…

Tag: little one

five. really?!?

the little guy was polishing off his morning plate of eggnog french toast this snow-dusted day, when i went and struck a match. lit up that burning five, the one you see above, and plunked it in a plate of merry-sprinkled cookies.

burning plates in early morn apparently get his attention.

“why five?” he asked, not beating round the bush.

“the chair is five,” i said.

“today?” he asked.

“actually, it will be monday. but it’s five years of fridays,” i said with a number girl’s precision.

“that’s big,” he said.

i agree. quite heartfully.

i think back to december 12, 2006. i was the mother of a 13-year-old who had recently broken his neck, and a 5-year-old in kindergarten. i typed from home, not yet called back to the mothership of the newspaper where i’ve told stories for 29 years now.

i’d discovered somewhere along the way that i secretly hummed when it came to the homefront.

i knew i loved the heart and soul that upholsters every richly built dwelling place, be it cottage in the woods, or an old gray-shingled house with a birds’ nook built into the eaves. the garden, for me, had always been holy ground. the kitchen, a place that drew me. and being a mother absorbed me, in the truest ways. of these things, i thought deep and often. though none of them out loud. not much anyway.

but then came a starry december’s night.

i’d been prompted by my firstborn, who could wield a mouse, a keyboard and its contents with head-turning amazements.

“you should do a blog,” he said, shoving me into the deep end from the tentative edge of the pool.

“here, i’ll make your website,” he offered, putting off some 8th-grade algebra to make his mama purr.

it’s not every night your kid turns his imaginative powers your direction, and when he does, you haul over a chair and play along.

and that’s pretty much how i got here. i found a site, with a name that spoke to me, and down in the wee corner, it was copyrighted to me.

i had little choice but to begin to type.

every week day for a year, then every friday for the next four. which brings us to today. the three-day-early birthday. but when you get to five, who is counting minutes? who’s keeping track in such compulsive ways?

for all of you who’ve been here for all five years, i have a special row of chairs for you. right here, in the deepest chamber of my heart.

some of you are among my dearest, on the screen and off. some of you, though, became my dear beloved friends simply through the act of clicking, which in blog terms amounts to listening.

and listening is the thing.

because, really, all we want, most of us, is to be heard. whether our words come out in whispers or full-throttle proclamations, we are looking to find a few inches on the world stage where what we wonder, what we believe, matters.

world stage, of course, does not mean we seek a microphone and podium. sometimes the choicest stage is the one where someone sits across from us, and nods in rapt attention. is that not what’s at the heart of most every child’s prayer? someone, listen, please.

and so i whisper here.

not all of you whisper back, but for those of you who do, who’ve put down your own stories, who’ve wiped away a tear and let me know, who’ve joined the conversation, raised a question, turned a story upside down to discover something altogether new, i’ve another row of chairs for you, and those have padded seats.

i never asked to be a writer. i just discovered, early on, that making words and paragraphs was the closest thing to humming my heart knew how to do.

all my life i’ve written. all my life my words have flowed from deep within my heart. i can’t seem to help it.

it’s not that i’m not compelled to get my story out, but to unearth all the touchpoints, where yours and mine are intertwined, where we discover more about who we are, and this path we try to navigate, by putting words to inklings, by giving form to prayers that have not made a sound until we typed them out.

in the five years that this table has been set, so much has changed: the blogosphere, now, is a very crowded place, and i know how rare, how hard it is for anyone to carve out time to visit. my hope that this might have opened some unmarked door, the pages of a book, it did not take flight.

instead, the steady pounding of my fingers on the keys brought me a circle of voices who i know–without fanfare or applause–see the world in ways that are not unlike mine.

and most of all, and best of all, i have left a record for my boys of how deeply, purely, vastly they’ve been loved. and i’ve captured priceless snapshots from the pages of their lives, how one grew up, went off to college, and how the other melted us like butter.

i’ve discovered, deep and true, a voice that comes from miles within. and i’ve learned not to be afraid, to speak it as i live it.

it’s not an easy thing to write from your heart. not an easy thing to have your heart be questioned, tested, singed.

five years is a solid sum. and i think it satisfies my urge to complete what i’d begun. writing every friday is surely in my rhythms. but maybe now i’ll change it up. perhaps i’ll post some of what i write for the newspaper, for now they let me write there in ways i write here too.

perhaps i’ll be silent on a friday. because silence is a skill, a prayer form all its own.

what matters most is for all of you who get to here, to these holy sacred words, thank you. bless you. in ways you and i might never know. i am casting out my sparks of light, and trusting that in some form they’ll land upon your heart, and burn an everlasting flame.

know that yours forever burn in mine.

amen. and bless you.

the gift that is my counting-down boy

“it’s advent,” he said with a twinkle.

“24 days,” he said two seconds later, not sure that i’d netted his drift.

finally, i found my way along his breadcrumb trail of hints.

“it’ll be up when you get home,” i shot right back, suddenly relieved that we’d awakened to a chandelier dangling by a mere two wires, a heavy chandelier, mind you. an antique of brass and blue-and-white porcelain, one you wouldn’t want crashing to the floor. but because the darn thing was dangling in such a dangerous way, and because there was no contraption we could contrapt to girdle it in place while we waited for the handy shock-and-wires man, i had to stay home all day, typing from my writing room.

which is a long and winding way to say: while he was off at school, and i was home cobbling stories amid chandelier-crash patrol, i tiptoed to the basement, to the box marked “early christmas,” and grabbed the string of red-plaid pockets, the one that every year since he remembers i’ve filled with little chocolates, peppermints and hints of the christmastide to come.

it’s the counting-down string, and he is not too old to count the days to christmas. nor to not want the house the way it’s always been.

and as i tiptoed up the stairs, i filled my heart and lungs with the deepest, purest knowing of just how much i’m blessed, soaked through and through, with the gift of a child who is still little boy enough to want to have that bit of magic dangling at the window. who wants to reach his little hand in there and pull out a surprise.

in these days and months since he’s been home alone, the one little someone among the trees of taller people, he has reminded me again and again just how deep a miracle he is.

oh, not simply that he’s here among us, long after the doctors told me “never.” not that i am nearly 55, and he is merely 10.

no, the real gift of my little bundle of purely answered prayer is that he is rare in the most delicious way.
“pure butter,” i just wrote of him to my beloved portland sister.

he’s a kid who halfway through dinner hops up from his chair and shimmies on the bench beside me. and when i ask (as mamas are wont to do), “why’d you just get up,” he melts me with his answer: “i wanted to sit next to you.”

now don’t think that he’s some mama’s boy. because he’s not. he’s this way with his papa, his grandma, and his big faraway brother.

more than once last week i found him sprawled across his brother’s lap, taking in a rough-and-tumble football game.

doesn’t matter that he’s fierce on a soccer field, or dribbling down a court. his essence, the one i’ve watched since he was born in a shaft of midnight light, is pure molasses gold.

he was the baby who wanted to be nestled, always, right against my chest, to absorb the lullaby of my quickly-ticking heart.

and somehow, some amazing somehow, he’s never lost that deep magnetic pull.

any minute now, i’ll be tossing on my coat and hopping on the train because, at 10 years old, he still wants me on his field trip. could not wait to tell me he saw my name on the chaperone list. could not wait to tell me i got to spend a whole cold and chilly day walking through the outdoor german market.

it is these sparks of innocence, his unfiltered exuberance, his lack of hurry in the growing-up department, that is the gift i hold in my palms as if a fragile robin’s egg.

as a mama, i straddle quite a canyon, the one that finds me taking in the college tales, and the worries that come with it, while with the other foot i am firmly planted in the giggles and the charms of fifth grade.

one night i might watch the little one smear on a slick of underarm deodorant before he tumbles into bed (“i like to smell something good when i first wake up,” he explains, as if anyone should know that), but next morning he’ll ask if i can help him cut his waffles.

it is this blessed holy middle place–not yet big and tough and smelling like a goat, still blithe enough to not mind holding tight my hand as we tiptoe through the night–that makes me whisper my unending thanks.

i am holding each and every frame, savoring the pure undiluted joy of this second round of life that came tumbling from the heavens.

bless you, my counting-down boy.

we all have gifts aplenty. as we count the days toward the longest night, and towards the holy christmas story, what might we find in your red-plaid pocket if you were to pull out but one magic parcel this fine december day?

mama hunger

still happens at least once a day. my baby boy, the one now tipping 50 pounds, climbs aboard. he sinks into my hip, grabs on tight around my neck, washes me in kisses, or simply leans his curly head right against my neck.

it’s often first thing in the morning, when he is drowsy still, hasn’t dusted off the sleepy eyes. but sometimes, like yesterday, as we waited for the snow to fly, it’s simply because we still get hungry for each other’s skin.

oh, goodness, that sentence almost sounds like something you would read someplace far from here. but i trust you know me well enough to know perhaps just what i mean.

it could not be cleaner, this hungriness for skin-to-skin. this mama hunger for the baby who once was. for the baby evaporating right before my eyes.

it will all be gone soon, i know, i know. but now, there are wisps of it around, and i am all but licking it from the spoon.

i ache to think that someday not too far from now i will wake up and the baby will be gone, all gone. perhaps it’s that, that makes me so very hungry now. i am committing the baby bits of him to somewhere deep inside me. it’s a dream, perhaps, that i never want to wake from. but, of course, i know i will, and as i drift awake, as he gets big before my eyes, i hold on tight, i cannot get my fill of his deliciousness.

sometimes, i’m overtaken. i cannot keep my nose, my lips, from nuzzling in his baby cheek. cannot keep my hands from reaching out and swooping him to the hip that can barely keep from caving in under the oh-my-goodness growing weight of him.

oh, he is six, all right. very much a big boy. can’t tie his shoes, not quite yet. still stumbles over syllables, when they come one piled on another.

but if i nuzzle close enough, if i hoist him the way i used to do, pretend that he’s not 50 pounds with legs that dangle to beyond my knees, i can catch one last whiff of baby boy before he slips away.

more and more these days i catch myself drinking in the whole of him. i look down, i see legs still in little blue jeans. almost comical those elastic-waisted jeans, as if trying hard to make like big boy pants while winking at the truth.

i see puffy baby hands. not the muscled ones of big boys, or his papa. these hands, round with one fading dimple yet, still fumble with a fork sometimes. still can’t cut with scissors, not without looking as if a gerbil had at that paper, all ziggy and zaggy with dangling bits of cutting that would not succumb to safety blades.

and the cheek. the cheek, all rosy often. and soft and fuzzy still. not fuzzy like the manchild’s; in fact, i’d call that one prickly now, the cheek of he who puts a razor to it once a month or even twice.

no, this is soft like, well, yes, velvet rub of peach, or underside of kitten’s neck, or petal of a summer’s rose. this is soft, but even more, it is irresistible. once i start to sniff it, kiss it, rub my cheek against it, it takes everything i’ve got to stop and breathe again.

it is, i know because my other one’s a man now, a chapter that will pass me by, any day now. and i’m not ready yet. don’t know if any mama ever really gets her fill.

i think it’s how we’re wired. my baby-making years are gone. i look old and older when i look into the mirror. but still, there is someone soft and little in my house. it’s as if, if i taste the sweetness of his skin, if i memorize his weight against my weary bones, i’ll always have him somewhere deep inside. where, after all, a mama’s babe belongs.

do you hunger for your little one, or for the days when your big ones were little? were you mad for the soft spot at the nape of their neck? or was it their toes that sent you to the moon? do you have a nuzzler? did you? i’m not saying, not at all, that there are fewer merits in the ones who drop their stinky shirts and socks all over their sleeping pits, i’m just saying, of course, that as the little ones slip through our fingers, there stirs a hunger that’s hard to fill. how ‘bout you?