On a rainy October Saturday, we headed an hour east to a perfect pumpkin patch in the country. My hair was frizzy because of the rain. Emma’s hair was perfect. We got lost in the corn maze and all Easton wanted to do was nurse. I ended up feeding him while walking through the maze. I passed 20 or so fathers who refused to make eye contact with me because they obviously knew what I was doing under the blanket. It was classic. Eli rode a canoe. Emma rode a pony with braids. We bought a big bag of popcorn and spoiled our dinner. It’s those details that I never want to forget.
As much as I’d like to freeze time, I can’t hide from the reality that Emma will start kindergarten next year. Whenever I get sad about my little side kick not being at home with me, I remind myself that I signed up for this life of motherhood. I signed up with the understanding that we will always progress forward. That there’s no turning back. That just like my body has changed through my child bearing years, my children will also change. They will grow, they will thrive and these little babes will turn into school aged children, into teenagers and into adults. I never imagined how much the process would tug on my heart, but those emotional strings that are pulled, are just a reminder that I’m alive and well.
And so, I am working to prepare my girl for kindergarten. To know those letters, those numbers, those colors and, reminding her daily that she’s amazing.
I read an article in a recent Family Fun magazine titled “Creating Creative Kids.” The article got me thinking. Academics is important, yes. Call me crazy, but just above academics, on my list of dreams for my children, is that they have creative minds. I mean, anyone can learn to read a book, memorize facts, add, multiply, divide…but creativity is in a class all on its own. I want my children to have creative minds. To look at things and see something completely different than what the natural object is. I want their minds to explore, to dream and to have new ideas that are outside the box, over the line, shoot…miles and miles and years and years over the line.
So, today, on a rainy afternoon in Texas, we made mixtures, potions and experiments. Whatever you want to call them, we made them. I gave them ingredients from the kitchen and let them go at it. No rules. Just mix and mix whatever you want to. And when you get tired of that mixture, start all over. Smell it, squish it in your hands, taste it if you dare. Just have fun.
This week was a doozy of a week. It was busy. The kind of busy I don’t like. Busy with life stuff that I don’t want you to worry about for a very long time. So today, on your 4 month birthday, I decided it was time to turn this week around. So, I held you, I kissed you a hundred million times and I snapped your picture. Then, I nursed you and you fell asleep in my arms. While you slept, I stared at you. I noticed your tiny bottom lip moving as if you were still nursing. I noticed your eyelashes and how they stretch out like a fan over your eyes. I kissed the baby fuzz on the top of your head and held you close to my chest while you breathed in and out. And all this turned a doozy of a week into a lovely one. Happy 4 month birthday, my son. I love you to pieces.
We call this place Tar Beach. To an outsider, it’s just a simple patio. To us, it’s much more. It is named after one of our favorite books, Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold. This is a place of dreaming. Where cardboard boxes become houses and have attics. Where teepee’s become villages and toy wagons become cars. And on a beautiful fall day, Tar Beach is the place to be.
This past summer, my parents moved to Texas. Let’s face it mom and dad, you came around to the idea of life in Texas. I know you thought David and I were completely nuts for moving here…and look at you now!
Life here is slower. Well, really. It is what you make of it. If I truly wanted to be constantly busy, I could easily do that. But, I don’t and I won’t.
My parents house is about a 20 minute drive from our home. It’s a beautiful drive too. Let me take you there…
drive by a field of corn, you’ll then pass a field of grazing cows and horses, next you’ll see a field full of hay rolls (perhaps they have another name, but I call them hay rolls). Then, finally you’ve reached our small town, and if you blink, you’ll miss it. Drive through the small town, then you’ll start all over. Corn field, grazing cows and horses, hay rolls. The final stretch includes passing a few horse farms and if you’re lucky, which we usually are, you’ll spot dozens of horses grazing and drinking water from the pond. And finally, there it is, my parents house. And I love having them here.
I call you my dream baby. I call you that because you came to me in a dream. A daydream really, but still, a dream. Here’s your story:
Last year, I had a bit of a health scare. “We need to rule out a brain tumor,” a doctor told me. And with that, my entire world came to a halt. The very next day, your dad drove me to an afternoon appointment for an mri. We drove in complete silence. I broke the silence and said, “if it turns out that I don’t have a brain tumor, then I think we should have a third child.” “Okay,” he replied, and with that, my dream baby was born.
You got me through that hour long mri. I laid on the table, completely incapsulated by a machine, and closed my eyes and dreamed of you. You got me through the 24 hours I had to wait until the phone rang and the doctor on the other end said, “the good news is you don’t have a brain tumor.” It was all you.
Months passed and if you know anything about your father and I, you should know that it takes us a while to commit to something. We are thinkers. But then one day, when I just felt a little ‘off,’ I took a simple test and I was immediately reminded of that dream I had months before.
So with that, my son, you became my dream baby. A little nickname just between the two of us. And all I can do is hope that you too will dream big, because I sure did, and it’s pretty amazing.
As Eli was leaving for school this morning, he turned back and said to Emma, “I wrote you a love letter.” You see, the previous night, Eli had fun reading love letters David wrote to me in high school (more on that later).
He handed his sister this letter, complete with a little map he drew on how he planned on delivering it.