And the Seasons they go Round and Round…

There is no way to slow it down, the change, the growth, the blossoming, the becoming…it is, like Joni Mitchell says, A Circle Game…I’m not ready for it to stop, but sometimes it turns faster than I can handle, and truth be told, sometimes it moves so slowly I can’t breathe…I suppose the balance is in the understanding, that in life, in living,  there is constant motion.

Today is warm, compared to the last few frigid weeks and the mounds of icy snow from our weekend blizzard are getting smaller and smaller by the hour, so I take a deep breath of the fresh January air and realize that the days are growing longer, minute by minute a sliver more sunshine each evening, bit by bit, little by little…round and round…

I watched a silly short video of my grandchildren the other day which I took four or five years ago, as they sang Christmas songs at my breakfast bar, and even those snippets of time make me pause and think, how fast it is going, and how ill prepared I am for when it all stops…I’m thinking a lot about time lately, recognizing that there is not enough time for all that I want to do, or perhaps maybe there is just enough time if I get on the ball, or maybe, there is an abundance and I’m just being silly or anxious or needlessly worrying in my mid-life.  I knew a person for a short while several years ago who was positively obsessed with the NOW.  Seldom if ever did he recognize any wrongs he had done in his past, and seldom if ever worried about his future, but always just felt the only thing that mattered was right this second, every second.  It’s something I have struggled with for all of my adult life, the dreaming and wishing and planing and hoping, and I suspect it’s something that I will continue to struggle with until I give up this fight and just be in the moment.

I visited with my grandmother three times in the last month.  She just turned 98. The second of the three visits included my father, my sister, my daughter, and my nephew, and it that small room, packed tightly with people who share deoxyribonucleic acid, and history, I felt time stop for a moment…we are all in this circle game whether we are mindful of our participation or not.  My daughter recently celebrated her 30th trip around the sun and my dad is about to celebrate his 74th, the man I say “I love you” to, will be turning 50 in just eight weeks, and shortly thereafter my parents will embrace their 50th anniversary of marriage…it’s all just time isn’t it?  Time on this planet, breathing in and breathing out…

I know several women who are suffering right this hour, who are sad, and worried, or scared and uncertain…some of them are distressed about themselves and some of them are fearful over their daughters, and all of them are thinking about their dreams, their wishes, and their time on this earth and what to do with it… do they have enough of it, and if not, how best to spend what time there is…it’s heavy in my heart, the hurting of these women who are my friends.  I am a woman without religion, I may even go so far as to write that I am a woman without faith, but I am however a woman who likes the idea of praying.  I like thinking that if in fact there is god, god knows I am a good human and a loving person and will be receptive to my words, and I also like thinking that if there is no god, the universe is vast, and bigger and more beautiful than any of us can even begin to imagine and it’s magical that we are in it, and my words must go somewhere…So I have been praying and thinking about these women I love, some more intimately than others but love just the same…that’s the thing about love, it’s magnificent and it’s open to any possibility…it’ll go where I send it, no matter what…

I think what I am feeling is maybe a recognition that I want my time on this planet to be much more than breathing in and breathing out…there is so much that I wish to see, so much that I wish to do, so much that I wish to change, so much that I wish to stay the same…it’s all up to me, and what you wish for and dream to do is all up to you isn’t it?  What we do with the time we’ve got is our choice.  Who we choose to love, who we choose to lose, how we choose to find joy in little things or simple pleasures, or demand our happiness come from the big and the bold, how we spend our time, how we earn our pay, what we take in and what we send out…it’s all choices, time isn’t waiting for me to make them…like Joni says, “We’re captive on the carousel of time,  We can’t return we can only look behind from where we came,  And go round and round and round, in the circle game…

 

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Wings and Roots

lampMany years ago, 30 this morning, to be exact, I received a congratulations card while in the hospital after the birth of my baby girl, and on the cover it read, in pastel pink calligraphy, with little white birds flying about the clouds above a big green lush spring-bloomed tree, “There are two lasting gifts we can give our children, one is roots and the other is wings” and while I do not recall who brought me that card, I never have forgotten the words…How is it that what turned out to be one of the happiest days of my life is already thirty years gone?  And how is it that I managed, despite so many hardships and obstacles against me, to bestow both of these lasting gifts onto this beautiful child of mine?

If you have ever heard the song by Carole King called “Child of Mine” then you know the lyric “I don’t want to hold you back, I just want to watch you grow” and I have loved every minute, well almost every minute, of these three decades, watching this big bald baby blossom and burst into this long lovely lady.  When I look at her, or see photos of her, I think she’s one of the most beautiful women I have ever laid eyes on, and when I watch her love her own daughters, I see a beauty in her that is profoundly more magnificent than that which is on her outside…her love for her children is a deep as the ocean and as infinite as the universe, and sometimes when I watch their faces watching her, see their eyes light up when she enters the room, I think to myself, “I did that,” that I made this human who these other humans love so much…it’s just one of the most amazing feelings in the world, that I’ve got no simple words to describe…

She spread her wings at 18 when she flew away to North Carolina, and while there she made these two little girls, but she planted her roots when she moved back here to New Jersey, when she decided that she wanted her children to grow up with their family so near and so close, as she did.  She loves my parents more than maybe most women love their grandparents because frankly they did as much parenting as I, if not more so, during her youngest years; they helped me raise her, and that was a gift in her life and mine, to be sure.  That I get to now live next door to her and the children is one of the greatest blessings in my life, particularly when I speak to people who have children and grandchildren far away, and I wonder, how would I live or breathe without hearing their voices nearly every day, or seeing their faces almost every day?

I’ve read whimsical t-shirts and signs that say things like, if I knew grandchildren were this awesome, I would have had them first, and it’s true that the love you feel for the child of your child is extremely different from that of “mothering,” purer is a word that often comes to my mind, and I’ve said and written countless times that I had no idea I had THAT much love inside of me, until I loved these girls, but even so, what touches me most thoroughly about watching and experiencing my daughter as a mother, is seeing her loved so deeply and so completely by her children…I feel strong and confident and certain, when I see her loved by those girls, that I did a fine job raising that human, and it’s a present I get to receive every day of my life…

I have done everything in my power for my daughter that I could.  I thought of her before I thought of myself from the moment she took her first breath of air and was welcomed to this world.  In retrospect, I could have done many things better than I did, but I also could have done worse.  We grew up together in a way, that girl and I.  I knew from the beginning that I would never be able to give her the kind of childhood, or kind of life that I had, but I knew that I could do the next best thing, which was have my loving family close, and ‘in’ most every step of her life, and I needed them to help me, so we all were better for it…that whole “it takes a village” idea is a universal truth.  I laughed and read with her, comforted her and wiped her tears, scolded and praised her when either was required, and taught her everything I knew, and showed her what love is.   It’s said that there is no way to be a perfect mother, but that there are hundreds of ways to be a good one, and if I gave my daughter no other gift in her life than this, I would believe I did enough.  The love that I feel for that girl and her girls is, like the lamp in A Christmas Story, ‘indescribably beautiful;’  it mends me when I am broken, it feeds me when I am empty, in warms me when I am cold, it soothes me when I ache, it’s a restorative like no other, love like that…

My daughter is smart and my daughter is beautiful and my daughter is a good person.  A parent can’t really ask for much more than that in a human, and anybody would be lucky to have her as a friend and as a neighbor.  I get to have her as both, and I sometimes wonder how on earth I ever got so lucky?!  That she stretched her spine and arched her back and spread her wings when she felt like she needed to fly, made me feel like I had raised her right, although I thought my heart was breaking, when she first left, I also felt that my mothering made her brave and confident and fearless, and that I gave her those gifts was what strengthened me during the initial sadness of her absence…that she has planted and watered and sunned herself in such a way that she now has such sturdy deep roots beside me, is a gift she gives me in return…no wrapping or bows required…