Last Day Of School 2015

what air is to the lungs; or, how suddenly summer is upon us again

Last Day Of School 2015
My children’s first year at school together, come and gone. Not much fanfare after all; I brought out some homemade food on the last day of class – simply to be relevant, to impress upon the children there that their time is honored, that we do indeed see them and love them. And yes, I am glad to be there if only for this brief hour. The food in hand: deviled eggs and pretzel sticks, the eggs created in my kitchen only the half hour before. I carry the parcel to a few other classrooms, teachers. My footfalls are weary but I’m glad to ghost about the hall and experience the privacy of my thoughts. 

The edifice, the institution, the classroom, is as it always has been now that I’m an adult: a bit dirty, small-minded, housing implausibly-cheerful young citizens and adults paid a wage for honorable work. My throat constricts and my heart thunders with hope, and despair. My children are happy – everyone seems to be! – but I am ambivalent, an experience that will follow me the rest of the day.

And I am distracted. Our grocery reserves are limited to a bit of folding money in my pocket, and we are paid Thursday next. But even this is familiar, an adventure. Only distressing if I decide it is. Instead: it just means on our last school roadtrip I text my husband to send me coupons for take-and-bake pizza; I think of what we have in the fridge, and of when in the next week or so I can reasonably set up something special for the kids. They have, after all, completed a year on their own steam.

Driving home I know the car full of children – four in all – are feeling joy, and sadness, and a since of pulsing life. Even now today’s memories are blooming in their chest, to be touched upon lightly in years to come. Music and singing, the wind through our hair, the sunshine painting the winding road flanking the Wishkah river. They can afford to let the moment come and pass, while it lives wretched and sublime through my body, manifested in my fingers resting on the steering wheel, tapping out a rhythm more cheerful than I feel.

Summer, then. And already my son is half-feral: he has plans to do his banking – he packs his stamped-leather piggy bank in my car and is querulous I don’t make the time to stop at his branch. He tells me he will stay a week at a friends’, someone he hardly knows. His summer tan returns seemingly overnight, his hair lightens from honey into an earnest, bedeviled blonde. He is outside and running the neighborhood as much as we let him; home, he cooks meals at late hours, and tries to take a bowl of soup to eat in his bed, although perhaps I have scolded the children for this kind of thing hundreds of times. He painstakingly arranges his most treasured effects in the many small wooden boxes and metal-clasped receptacles he’s squirreled away over the years. In one such repository: miniature Lego pieces, a geode, a key, foreign currency, fossilized sharks’ teeth, and nondescript rocks imbuing a meaning known only to he. “I wish I could keep your heart inside,” he says – then, with a quick glance lest I misunderstand, amends his statement to mean my soul, my spirit, not my anatomical heart.

He tells me he will forgo school next year – but who can tell? This time last year, we had no hint he’d want to attend, and we wouldn’t have predicted how that would go in any case.

I have a leadership role in my household. This is evident to anyone who knows our family. This is something we four know. Yet in so many ways I am blind and striking out, making way in hostile, confusing terrain so the family can grow into themselves. They thrive in confidence in this shadow, lush and verdant greenery twining in the loamy darkness, growing strong. They fall asleep easily while at night I am prone to anxiety.

And tonight – as evening falls, sitting on our couch with my legs folded underneath my body – I talk with my husband. I speak of the disappointment and sadness I feel to watch so many I know, falter in their spiritual path. I speak of Doubt, which is so much harder for me than Fear. A mirage of illusion. “There are a small number of people I have found to be faithful,” I tell him. “You’re one of those people -” I say, and turn my head strategically for just a beat, to let this pass, before I complete my thought.

I am glad of their faith because, if I cannot always be happy, be sure, they are still the best thing to have come along, to awaken me to something beyond my own machinations and limited understanding.

Wishkah

hollow (wo)man

Wishkah

This last week I’ve had three members of the community ask for a private conference for the following: putting homeschooled kids into school, and taking schooled children out of school. I guess now I’ve got enough experience on both. I’m honored to be trusted, and I hope my listening ear, and my shared experience, helped these concerned folk.

The thing is, with any life change a parent has the opportunity to examine the agenda they’ve crafted for their child. And I mean, deeply examine it. If they’re not willing to do that, then little I say makes a difference much.

This of course brings a preternatural calm to all such conferences. It’s easy to be calm. Who is going to see their agendas, let alone set them aside? My children’s own attendance on a daily basis at a little rural school miles (and miles!) away from home life is, I’d like to think, a bit of a referendum on that concept of I just want what’s best for my child. (because: what parent doesn’t?) Their internment in the walls of a brick and mortar school for me means: I trust. The school? I dunno. The kids themselves? Yeah. Yeah, I really do.

Wishkah

Wishkah

Today I spent several hours at this very school, my first volunteer gig of the year.I first directed one class in a small activity – some cooking and crafting – and then watched both my kids in their respective Physical Education classes.

It was a surreal, exhausting experience. I don’t know how kids get through it and have energy left over to play sports. Or as my daughter did – go to soccer practice, come home and do chores, go for a run with her father – and then finish up her homework.

Beat, querulous, confused, tonight I attend the last of my yoga series. Half the class of twelve has dropped out. I open up to the possibility of gratitude – for myself, my practice. Come home and put kids into the shower and put away laundry and take a hot shower.

But I’m unearthed; sands have shifted.

People act like when your kids grow up, you’re sad because you’re this empty husk that has no meaning to life now that you aren’t meeting their needs. But it’s not like that. It’s exactly like realizing every moment is one you’re probably squandering, wishing for things to get better or easier. Then one day they’re easier (in those particular respects) and you realize the groundlessness was your own thing, had nothing to do with circumstance. And the thing you perhaps squandered entirely, was that precious time with those children, which is the best thing life’s going to offer. That potential for perfect intimacy with another human being.

You throw away, that Best Thing. 

Why am I willing to live like the walking dead? And so many others, they do the same. So then: the fear. A haunting thought: What will keep me from forgetting again?

Late night: the dryer hums, the dog and kitties and rabbit are settling in. My husband’s movements in the bedroom: small, sedate. Tattered pajamas and a cool, peaceful bedroom.

And then tomorrow. Tomorrow can I live it? Instead of fleeing the moment, running and running to some destination that is less real than the illusion I create it from.

Wishkah

Swimming Hole

sclera

It’s been several hours and two showers and two changes of clothes but I can still feel the horrible slippery feeling of my flip-flops as I tried to navigate a muddy bank section of the river. Right when I slipped – again, and my eye was scratched by a tall reed, right then I realized – I am having such a hard time.

I am so angry.

I am so angry because I am worried for my child and because there is nothing logical I can do (that I haven’t already done) so I am just floundering in these waters. It is like a hangover, and beating myself up, araid and angry. Feeling sick and ill at ease even when I’m with those I love. It’s a horrible experience and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Walking a river is a great way to practice mindfulness – well, especially when you’ve an iPhone tucked in your bra that must, I repeat must, stay dry. So by the end of our trip I felt a little better. Then home; and after some work on the latest tailoring project, and after a hot shower and volunteer work – and talking with a friend – a little better, still.

Today really was beautiful. The children thanked me several times. “Thank you for financing this trip, Mama,” my little girl tells me. They didn’t once get tired of the many dozens of small frogs – and crawdads, and periwinkles, and wee little fish. They didn’t get tired of swimming and wading and climbing.

They are truly my greatest teachers.

Swimming Hole

Brief

"This Is Gonna Get Weird... Two Frogs"

Little Frog

Crawdad

Hutch

Ferns

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

hero hoodie

I fell in love, instantly, with this semi-sheer little knit in “tomato and ivory” colorway. In between working for clients, it’s important to sew something that kind of warms my heart. So I did.

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

 It’s also quite gratifying to make someone something and watch them snuggle right into it, and wear it all day long.

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

Stripe matching as per usual: LIKE A BOSS

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

Twin needle at the hem:

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe 

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

Next up: pattern testing three patterns for a blog tour (wonderful!), making a silk blouse for a client, and mapping out a drover’s coat for another client. Far less a “housewife” these days than a preoccupied, semi-bitchy tailor!