After a month of long-overdue and lovely family visits, we are left with the last of summer, these final days that cling to our transition and temporary new life here. The bells of Germany feel so long ago. Did I ever even hear them ring through our windows?
The day after Grandma left us last week, the weather suddenly turned, the blasted humidity blown away, the mornings slightly cooler, a dryer fall-ish air blowing through, the sun and trees and sky all sparkly and free — A glimpse of a new season.
It feels like we are on the cusp, suspended between here and there. Though the sun shines through the windows more gently, more honey colored and less white, the afternoons are still hot and the mornings still damp. The children still play in the pool and bubbles in the afternoon sun, and yet the air feels cleaner, more approachable, more like soup weather on the horizon, more like my favorite time of year.
We are all feeling it.
The season is changing– our little ten month old baby is walking and climbing and eating from our table with profound interest, our five year old suddenly full of questions and thoughts and funny stories, our three year old so much closer to being four in every which way (though she tells me consistently that she is five). And there are three birthdays to celebrate in the coming months and all the ideas and plans I have for knitting and sewing, and some mountain and seaside family trips planned and our next big household move already deep in the works — all pointing to the next transition, to Part Two of Act One.
But I am not ready to go there just yet. Leave me here in the final days of summer-not-yet-fall before we set our faces toward the southwest, toward the next season.
Let me linger between a little longer.
Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
My three year old has no time or space for baby dolls– but she loves animals. There are never-ending conversations between them, all given special names and sent on neat adventures, always with a mommy and daddy, a ‘twinkle’ and ‘sparky’. She is incredibly imaginative in her story-telling and the props she uses– Anything will do, anything can become real to her. (In one case (of many), her shoe and her graham cracker were active players, alive with dialogue in her imaginary scene.)
Thanks to gifts from our family (as well as living near a lovely toy store while overseas), we have a beautiful collection of handmade wooden and some plastic animals from Germany (and a barn)–and they are played with continuously (along with stuffed animals that are dressed in baby clothes and pushed around in the doll carriage I played with as a child). I look forward to the day when we can care for real animals (of one kind or another). I am pretty certain that with her nurturing heart and hands and deep affection for all living things, she would be in her element.
She loves dinosaurs (every one of them is named “roar!”), and monsters (as far as she is concerned, they are all friendly and fluffy and colorful) and I have no idea where all of this comes from. She is truly and fully her whole strong, expressive and loving self and she makes me laugh. It is lovely to watch her so often immersed in a world of her own–a precious part of childhood that draws me in, making me long to encourage and preserve the natural creativeness in her, to not let it be spoiled.
I think it was Picasso who said something like, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain one once he grows up.” I would say the same is true about imagination.
My hope and prayer for her (and for all of us) is that it is never lost.
Days are small this summer – small things for small people and small moments I try to take note of, try to remember–try to etch it all in my mind. Veteran parents have said a time or two, that the days are long but the years are short. Certainly these five years have flown by. So. fast. And sometimes I feel like I am missing it all even though they are growing right before my eyes–like a hummingbird that zips in for a quick sip from the feeder and suddenly flits away nearly as soon as you notice it in front of you.
I think we are all settling in a bit better in the US; the transition has been a challenge. Some friends have asked why it has been so hard and all I can say is that I don’t really know, but that I am returning ‘home’ very changed. Certainly I didn’t try to change myself; it just happened. My children were formed there, born in Europe. So was my mothering, and honestly, so was our family. So right now I feel lost in the hallways between here and there. I know it will get better (it always does), but change takes time and sometimes a lot of time. And sometimes the adapting and re-figuring out is in small steps, small moments. And that is okay. It is okay to be quiet and simple these days and to not do much more than be together.
The world can feel loud sometimes–to do more, to be more, to have more–and some of them very good things. But even the good things can be too much. Sometimes, especially during big life transitions, we need the space in time to just be— space to see, to notice, to pray. To be filled up by the small moments of small days.
These pictures date back a bit to early July when we drove to Charleston in order to pick up our family car from the port after it was shipped ‘home’ to us from Germany. We were told the car would be there and ready, but when we arrived, it was not at all even in the area (it was still sitting in a warehouse in Savannah and had not yet been processed through customs), so we made the best of our time in a new place and headed to the beach.
Our children have been to beaches before, but only ones in Europe– Monaco, northern Italy, the Netherlands, England and France (and usually in late spring, so it was generally rather cool)–all of them very different experiences from beaches lining the coast of the southern US.
We miss those beaches.
But we loved this one too.
Pure joy and beauty can be found everywhere.
The water was so warm and gentle and inviting. He exclaimed, “Mama, this beach is so different! I love it! Can we stay forever?”
How he compares his experiences here to his early life overseas– and how that to him, America is new and fresh and something to be learned– Well, his eyes are helping me to see life here anew too, to see the beauty and feel the joy right where we are.