Roaring His Terrible Roar


Image by Andrea Jara S

When I started this blog, back in 2011, it was on the advice of my therapist. She was helping me to come to terms with my newly empty nest, and the loss of my mothering days.

My three kids had grown up, and had all moved out within two months of each other. I was a wreck. I mourned every day. I missed cooking for them. I fell apart in the grocery store just watching other mothers with their little ones.

The sight of a children’s book reduced me to sobs. In fact, I once had to run out of Toys R Us while trying to shop for a baby shower gift; I was in the book section and I stumbled upon “Love You Forever.”

I couldn’t hear certain songs without tears. I couldn’t make certain meals without tears.

It was ridiculous. But I couldn’t help it.

Gradually, I pulled myself together. I learned to enjoy the relative peace of the house and the time to reconnect with my husband. It got better. My kids grew into their lives but still touched base with us often.

And my daughter had babies.

That helped a whole big, fat boatload.

I became Nonni. I retired from teaching and began to spend my days, once again, rocking little ones, serving alphabet noodles, singing lullabies.

My equilibrium returned and all was well.

But, guess what?

Kids keep on growing. They keep on getting bigger and more independent. They change. They pull on her heartstrings at the most surprising times.

Last week I was putting little Johnny in for his nap. He loves books, and asked me to “read three books!” We were snuggled under the blanket, and my little two year old sweetie was following every word of each book.

We got to one of my favorites, “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.

As I read each page, John’s head was resting on my shoulder. I could feel his breath on my cheek, his hair against my neck.

He was focused on the pictures as I read to him about how Max sailed across night and day and came to the land of the Wild Things.

“And when he came to the place where the wild things are
they roared their terrible roars….”

As I read those words, my sweet boy said, “Rawr!!!!” and my eyes instantly flooded with tears.

He sounded exactly like his Momma had sounded thirty years ago. For a second, it was her breath on my cheek, her soft brown hair on my neck, her shining dark eyes on the page.

Time turned back, in an instant. And I missed my little girl so deeply that I could barely breathe.

But then I heard Johnny tapping his teeth together near my ear. I took a breath, and kept on reading,

“…..and gnashed their terrible teeth
and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws.”

Isn’t love a funny thing?

Ah, Miss Ellie……


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Rockin’ her Daddy’s hat.

Way, way back, in the dawn of my history, when Paul and I were very young, we used to think about the upcoming weeks and tell ourselves, “I’m glad there is something to look forward to!”

Which means, of course, that there were times when we’d look at each other and think, “Ugh,  there is nothing to look forward to!”

I look back now, at my 22 year old self, and I think, “Are you kidding me? You’re twenty something, and you don’t think you have something to look forward to? You only have your ENTIRE LIFE, you idiot!”

But at 22, I wasn’t thinking that way. I was thinking, “What wonderful adventure is out there for me in the next week?”  I was young. I was foolish.  I didn’t really get it.

And then, at the wise old age of 29, I gave birth to my first child.  My wonderful, beautiful daughter Kate.  And everything changed in an instant.

Suddenly, I knew that I had “something to look forward to” for at least 20 years.  Every morning with my baby was a new beginning.  Every bath time was a treasure. Every meal an adventure.  I was enraptured, enamored, in love, entranced, enthralled.

Life was very, very good.

And then it went on.  Kate’s brothers were born, and the rhythm of my life was set.  I was a happy, busy Momma, and every passing week meant something new to look forward to. There were milestones and holidays and vacations and camping trips.  Birthdays and new schools and sports and plays and music.  Life was one big streak of “something to look forward to”.

And then they all grew up. And they moved away and started their own lives.

There suddenly wasn’t quite so much to look forward to, you know? Life was still happy and full, but the magical moments were gone.

And now, here I am, the full time day care provider for my little Ellie.  Now I am back to the days of making pancakes for someone who will light up with joy at the new taste. I am back to singing brand new songs, and reading exciting new books.

Tonight, when supper was over, I put our leftover coconut rice into a bowl.  I added an egg and some cream and cinnamon. I baked it for 20 minutes.  It smells fantastic.

I will go to bed tonight with something to look forward to.  I will give my beautiful Ellie a bowl of rice pudding for her breakfast tomorrow.

Life is a very beautiful thing.

Passing Judgment


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Most of the time I try not to be judgmental.  Please note the word “try”.  I don’t always succeed.

Still, for the most part, I don’t judge how people dress or what they drive or eat or drink or buy.

And most of all, having been a working Mom with three kids in daycare, I try very hard not to judge other people’s parenting choices.

But sometimes, once in a while, well.  Sometimes I just have to judge.

This story is true. It really took place, pretty much as I describe it, in my local grocery story on the evening before Valentine’s Day. I ran into two different families, neither of which I know, and I observed two dramatically different conversations.

The first one went like this.

Boy (about age 8): Dad!?  When is Easter?

Dad: March or April, depends on the year (not looking at the child).

Boy: What?!

Dad: (turns to the child, puts hands on his hips, speaks slowly and very loudly.)  I said March or April!!! Depends on the year!

Boy: Then why are they selling all this Easter stuff already?

Dad: Cuz next week is March, genius! (Man looks at me, shakes his head.)

My shame is that I didn’t speak up.  I didn’t say with a smile, “Oh, I bet you remember being a kid, right? Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! Remember how every holiday seems like it took forever to arrive?”

I didn’t take the opportunity to smile at the little boy, either.  I should have. I should have told him with that smile that I was on his side. I should have said, “Great question! The stores always try to beat each other selling holiday stuff! They think they’ll make more money that way.”  I should have commiserated with him.  I could have just said, “I was just wondering the same thing.”

But that tall, broad shouldered, scowling man intimidated me.  I walked away.  And skipped the next two aisles, because I didn’t want to see him any more.

And that let me to conversation #2, which went like this.

Boy: (about 4 years old) “Mommy!!!! Easter Candy!”

Woman: (smiling at little boy) “I know, honey! See the pretty eggs?”

Boy: “Easter!!!!  Bunnies!!  I like these eggs!!!” (dances with joy in front of the display)

Woman: “Want to have an Easter Egg hunt this year?”

Man: (joining the two of them): “Yeah, let’s hunt for Easter Eggs in our yard!”

The conversation went on for several minutes as the little boy asked about 50 questions: When was Easter? Who would hide the eggs? Did bunnies make the eggs? Could he buy this furry stuffed bunny? Were all the eggs chocolate? Why? Why? Why?

The parents answered every question, calmly and patiently.  I pretended to be card shopping, but I was watching them out of the corner of my eye.

This time, when the conversation ended, I spoke up.  I told the young family how beautiful the child was, and how lucky they were to have him.  I told them how much joy it gave this grandmother to see people who so loved and respected their child.

I didn’t ask if I could borrow them for few minutes to teach a lesson to another parent.  I didn’t ask if they’d like to adopt an 8 year old.

But I wanted to.

It takes a lot of time to raise a child with love and respect and a sense of worth.  It only takes a minute to tear that all down.

 

A Good Kind of Surprise


Now that I have an empty nest, I am used to having nearly complete control over my environment.

I mean, other than the mountains of dog hair and Paul’s habitual pile o’ stuff on my kitchen counters, I have a lot of control of my space.

I now wash, dry and carefully fold the towels so that they are placed neatly on the closet shelves.  The beds are made.  The shoes are either in the closet or neatly lined up by the door. The dishes and cups are clean and dry and waiting in their respective cabinets.

There is very little unexpected and unwelcome mess in my house.

I very very rarely come across a dirty dish on a windowsill.  I am no longer surprised by a pile of muddy clothes in the bathtub.

My life is predictable.

When I open the hall closet, I know which coats and jackets I will see.

Except when I am surprised.

Delightfully, happily, joyfully surprised.

Like today.

I opened the closet to grab my down jacket, planning to step outside to shovel some snow.

And there it was.

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Surprise!

A tiny purple jacket, decorated with pink and blue hearts and circles.  A puffy, warm, cozy little jacket, just right for keeping a baby girl warm.

I must have hung it up there not long ago, when I was sorting through a big bag of hand-me-down clothes. I probably put it on the hanger and nestled it into the pile of coats. Somewhere between my old bulky white coat and Paul’s blue winter jacket, it must have settled in and gotten comfy.

And I must have forgotten all about it.

Until today.

When I pulled open the door and pushed aside the hangers.  And there it was.  Reminding me that my neat, orderly, predictable house is no longer entirely under my control. Telling me that it will soon be overtaken once again by toys and blankets and cast off cups and dirt and leaves and twigs and bandaids and juice boxes.

Thank God!

That pretty little jacket, hanging so sweetly in my closet, reassures me that life continues to go on here.

My nest is not quite so empty anymore.

 

 

You know it was a good Christmas when…..


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When the last gift is opened and the last bit of wrapping has been tossed, its time to evaluate the holiday.

When the last dish of leftovers has been sent off, and the kitchen is clean again, its time to look back and see how it went.

This was a wicked good Christmas.

How do I know?

I know because I am completely and totally beat.  My stomach is rebelling at the thought of another dinner.  I don’t even want a glass of wine.  I’m happy that all three kids will be gone by bedtime, that Ellie is at her house, that no one needs me for one single thing.

This must have been a spectacularly successful Christmas, because all that I want now is a an early bedtime and a late wake up in the morning.

Happy “Phew, Glad That’s All Done” Day to you all!

 

Being Open


Keeping the heart open

Keeping the heart open

If I’ve learned anything in the past year, its that I need to let myself be open to new experiences.  I need to let go of the “what ifs” and embrace the “let’s sees”.

I first learned the lesson last winter when we took in Lucas, our German exchange student.  That one was easy for me, though.  A boy was in need of a loving home.  I was a mom in need of boy to love.  Easy.   We opened our doors, took Lucas in, and allowed ourselves to enjoy six months with someone to cook for, someone to greet us in the morning, someone to worry about, someone to help with chores.

And through Lucas, we were able to have our second “just be open” experience. That one came when we got to know his Mom and her husband through the miracle of Skype.  We had emailed them, or course, as soon as Lucas came to live with us. “We’ve got him! He’s here, we’ll take good care of him”, we messaged.  Our emails went back and forth for a couple of weeks, and then Lucas asked us to Skype.  Paul and I don’t particularly enjoy the kind of forced conversation that comes with Skype, and we didn’t even know these people at all. We speak no German, and don’t know much about the country or culture. “Twenty minutes”, we told each other, “We’ll just say hello, show them the house, answer any questions they might have.”  So Lucas made the connection, we put on good clothes and sat somewhat awkwardly on the couch with him between the two of us.

Two hours later, we finally said good bye with many promises from both sides to “do this again soon!” Kisses were blown, hands were waved, “Bye-bye” and “guten nacht” were called out.  We logged off and looked at each other in amazement. “Wow”, Paul said, “They’re fantastic!”

It was only this week that we learned that the very same conversations had happened in Germany before and after that Skype session. “Twenty minutes “, Katja had assured her husband before the call.  “We’ll just introduce ourselves and thank them.  We don’t even know these people.”   And then, “Wow!” when the call was ended.

Because we were open to something new when Lucas needed a home, because we didn’t let our common sense talk us out of it or remind us of all of the possible complications and inconveniences, we had let ourselves make a connection with a wonderful couple across the world from us.

Pretty sweet!

Fast forward 9 months, and you will come to our third “open yourself” lesson in this surprising life.  After more long Skype sessions, glasses of wine “shared” vicariously on the screen, and many long stories, some laughs and even some tears, we had arranged to have Katja, Lucas and Jörg stay with us for a week this month. And we are in the middle of planning a trip to see them in Germany next summer.

Can you imagine? Two total strangers (technically) coming to live in our small house with our big dogs, leaving the beautiful city of Berlin and spending time in the wilderness!? We were nervous but so excited to host them!  It has been even better than we could have dreamed!

We feel like we’ve known them our whole lives.  What a joy to find people who are so smart, compatible, flexible, honest, easy.  What a week!  We took a trip to the Cape, went to Portsmouth New Hampshire, hosted a cocktail party for them and took a trip into Boston.

And it was in Boston where our final serendipitous encounter took place.

We were at Faneuil Hall, the historic old seaport area where sites from the American Revolution brush up against trendy shops and upscale restaurants.  A fun and vibrant part of our city, and one that Paul and I have seen many times before.  Our guests went to do some shopping while we walked around the original Faneuil Hall building itself.  And it was there, in front of a display about the first African American Regiment to fight in the Civil War that we made the acquaintance of a young woman from Seattle.  We started to chat about history, but moved quickly onto more personal stories.  The woman was pretty and warm and it was so easy to talk with her.  She had a fresh, honest face and I liked her at first glance. Truly, if I were to choose a word to describe her, it would have to be “open”.  Within a few minutes of meeting, I had told her that I was a retired teacher who loves history, and she’d told us that she was the mother of a three year old girl, and was on a work trip to Boston from Seattle. She began to cry as she said this, with the kind of gentle, graceful tearfulness that I thought only Ingrid Bergman could achieve.  As she wiped her tears and ruefully explained that she hadn’t ever been away from her daughter for five whole days, and missed her terrible, I opened my arms and pulled her into a hug.

It sounds pretty strange as I write this; what kind of lunatic old couple walks around talking to strangers and then hugging them? We didn’t even know each others’ names yet, but here she was, this tall, fair woman, crying on my shoulder.

We found out as we continued our conversation that she was also grieving the sudden recent loss of a close friend. Another hug for that one! And then we found out that she speaks fluent German, and that she was rushing around to see a few historical sites before returning to her hotel at dusk.  She was alone, and didn’t know the city, so she wanted to be safely in her room by dark.  She would be heading home the next morning, so this was her one chance to see part of the city.

So naturally, having learned to be open to new people and new experiences, we invited her to join us for dinner in the North End. She was surprised and delighted; see? She’s very open!

We walked through the city with our new German friends and our new American acquaintance.  We talked all the way, both languages flowing.  We had an incredibly delicious meal in a little restaurant called “Bella Vista” on Hanover St. We ate a pile of pastries and fresh cannoli.

And we hugged and exchanged contact information as we said good night and headed home.

So we find ourselves, having learned to be more open, with an upcoming trip to Germany and an open invitation to visit Seattle.  We find ourselves with new close friends in Katja and Jörg, a third son in Lucas, and the memory of having offered comfort and friendship to a beautiful young woman in a tough spot.

What could be better than that?

But what did you do all day?


But what did you do for me today?

But what did you do for me today?

When I was a young wife and mother, I never had to answer the question, “But what did you do all day?”   You see, I married a man who appreciated having a wife who kept the house organized, who made the dinners, who took care of the kids.

And for most of the years of my young mommy life, I also worked.  I juggled the pressures of a long commute, three young kids, and a teaching job.  I shopped, I helped with homework, I took care of the various allergies and asthma needs.

Paul and I shared the home chores (after a few arguments and struggles, of course; he’s only human!). Sometimes I felt like they all took me for granted, and sometimes I got pretty damn cranky.

But most nights I dropped into my bed with a feeling of worth.  I could always look back on my day and think about the hugs and kisses I’d given out, the meals I had cooked, the conversations I’d had with my precious kids.  Most nights, I felt pretty damn good about myself as I drifted off to sleep.

Then the kids grew up, and moved away.  My nest was empty.

But I still had my job. I still had my students, the children who needed my smiles and hugs and words of support.  I still had the feeling each night that I had made a small difference in the world that day.

And now here I am.  Retired before my time; forced out of the roles I loved. The kids grew up, which was in the natural order of things.  And the expectations of my school changed so much that I was pushed right out the door, well before I was finished with my teaching life.

What do I do now?

I know, I know.  In a couple of weeks I’ll be the full time day care provider for my granddaughter. I know myself well enough to know that as soon as that happens, my sense of self-worth will be restored.  Loving and nurturing a child is the greatest job there is; I know that!  I believe it, with all of my heart.

Still.   Here is what makes me scratch my head and wonder.

Why, after having raised three healthy, happy children, do I still feel that I have not earned a time of rest?  Why, after having taught and encouraged and diagnosed and treated hundreds of children, do I not feel that I have given enough back to the world?

Why do I feel, on a sunny Monday in October, that I have no right to simply sit down and read a good book?

I don’t know.

I can tell myself that I am good person, that I have made life better for a whole lot of people.  I can tell myself that I have influenced the lives of so many children over all these years.

Its just that I don’t quite believe myself.   I have to get up every single day and find a way to accomplish something.  If not, I am restless, anxious, adrift.

But I make a list of chores to do every day.  And if I cross things off my list: ah, then I feel that I have earned my time to myself. Did I shop?  Did I clean out a closet? Paint a wall? Write a story?

Did I organize a drawer, take the dogs to the vet, write to Congress, pay the bills, can some applesauce, plant the bulbs, order Christmas gifts?

I know that all of these things are tasks that should be done.  I know that doing most of them is simply a part of life.

What I don’t understand, though, is why I feel useless and unsuccessful on those days when there is nothing on the list.  On days like that, I feel that I am unworthy of the afternoon nap.  Undeserving of the time to read.   On days like that, I make things up and put them on my “list”.

“Take morning medications.”   “Walk dogs.”   “Throw away all the old socks in our drawers.”  “Repaint the garage doors.”  “Find a cure for cancer.”

My list, on days like this, ranges from the mundane to the impossible. My logic in this endeavor is to include items that I can do automatically (“Take shower”) and therefore cross off the list.  But I also always include items that no one would have foreseen, so that when I lay myself down to bed, I can tell myself, “Wow, you sure are a useful person.”

I wonder why I still don’t feel worthy of a day off?

Why I NEED my granddaughter.


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She certainly looks like she needs her Nonni, doesn’t she???????

So the thing is, I totally support the idea of a full year of maternity leave. I really do! I think that Mom’s should stay at home with their babies. I am a huge Bernie Sanders fan, so I agree that the United States absolutely MUST keep pace with every other western nation and MUST guarantee maternity leave for our young mothers.

Really.  I agree.

But the thing is…………

I retired in June.  So I’m not a teacher any more. No more bright eyed children greeting me every morning with a hug and a smile. No more earnest young parents telling me how well I know their children.  No more validation. No more laughter. No more feeling of worth…….

And my kids are way grown up!  I mean, my baby is 23 years old!  ALL three of them are better cooks than I am.

Nobody needs me anymore.

I woke up this morning, and my first thought was, “Hell, I have a sniffle.”  It seemed completely logical that I should just curl back up under the covers and sleep the day away.  I didn’t have an actual cold or anything. I mean, no deep cough, no fever, no chills.

But what the hell? I was sort of sniffly.  And tired.  And I wanted to sleep some more.

And……….(drum roll, please)……..NO ONE needed me to be up and about.

Awful.

The worst.

I got myself up, and dragged my sad old butt into the living room.  Where I saw my two old dogs.  And I suddenly remembered that Sadie is supposed to be dying. And Tucker had his spleen taken out.  He was recently evaluated by a Chinese Medicine Specialist who suggested that I cook for him.

Woohooo! Someone needed me!

I pulled out the vet’s suggested food list.  Huh.  It looked a whole heckavah lot like the food list suggested by my workout group…..  I made a big batch of oatmeal and pumpkin, and divided it into three bowls.

The dogs didn’t have an espresso, but other than that, we shared our breakfasts.

And later in the day, I got up off the couch and whipped up a batch of pumpkin-whole wheat dog biscuits.  All natural.  Yup.

Dinner tonight was soup. Chicken and meatball soup for the humans.  Nice rich lamb soup with carrots and broccoli for the dogs.

Dear God.

I need my daughter to go back to work.  As soon as possible. I need my granddaughter here!   I need an actual human child to care for. I need a baby in my house to remind me that I still have some value, that I still need to get up in the morning, that I still have to show up in my life.

I need to make soup for a human.  I need to feed that human and have that human look at me with a big smile and shining eyes.

So.

In spite of my deep belief in a full year of maternity leave, I am kind of counting the minutes until my daughter goes back to teaching and I am the one in charge of taking care of our beautiful Ellie.

Am I a really bad Mom?

Oh, I do so miss them


I remember back when I struggled so much with the sadness of the empty nest. Back then, it was the children who had left me behind. I missed them terribly, and had to give myself the time to grieve.

Now I find myself facing a different kind of emptiness.  This time, I am the one who has left the children.

Last June I retired from teaching, well before I was ready to go.  I left before I had finished the job.  Before I had reached my best, before I had grown too old and tired to love the children.

But I retired, having read the handwriting on the wall.  I understood that I was no longer seen as relevant or valuable, at least not by the people who do the evaluations.  My usual well respected questions were no longer welcome, but were now seen as insurrection.  All of the knowledge about children that I had gathered and learned over my 30 years of teaching were suddenly “outdated” and in need of replacement.  When I couldn’t manage to forget what I knew, it was time to move on.

So I said goodbye to a job I loved and was so proud to do.  I took myself out of the world of “teachers”.  I left my wonderful school behind.  I left the comforting support of my colleagues and friends.

I’m the one who left the nest.

So today I am sad. I miss those children so much! I miss the bright eyes, the goofy grins, the lame bathroom jokes.  I miss the rapt faces as I read out loud. I miss the morning meetings and the “sharing” stories of soccer games and birthday parties and new puppies.

I miss the flushed faces of children coming back inside after recess on a cold day. I miss the hushed conversations in the hall as I help a group of girls work out a social struggle.

I miss the math lessons, the moments of “lightbulb” realization.  God, I miss the hugs and the little drawings and the poems and the handmade bracelets.  I miss knowing that they are happy to see me.  I miss the incredible validation that comes from the realization that they trust me, and respect me.

I miss seeing those children make progress. I miss the moments when they surprise themselves.  I miss seeing them slowly come to the realization that they disagree with my interpretation of something, and gather the courage to challenge me.

I miss being a teacher. I do.

I miss the hugs that came at the end of almost every day.  I miss having all those smiling little faces saying, “See you tomorrow!” as they headed out the door.

I wasn’t ready to go.

I miss it.

A Curiously Circular Experience


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Live music in the Berkshires.

Oh, this evening was one of those curiously circular experiences that I seem to keep noticing lately.  One of those moments when I feel all of the key points in my life passing each other as they circle around and come back into sync with each other for brief moments.

Tonight I talked Paul into making the 2 hour drive out to the Berkshires for some live music.

Oh, not Tanglewood!  Nope, not for us.

We were headed for an outdoor concert on the shores of a small pond in the tiny Berkshire town where our two sons now live.  It’s kind of a cool story, really.  Our boys used to play music together when they were in Middle School and High School. One of them is the bass player, one the drummer.  We were lucky enough, as the parents of the drummer, to host the band in our basement for 6 very interesting years. We went through a lot of musical growth together, including a somewhat challenging “MetalHead” phase.

But eventually, everyone grew up, and the boys moved out.  The music was gone from our house. The nest was empty.

Now, five years later, our boys have come together again. Laughing together. Living together. Sharing a fabulous friendship with a truly amazing group of friends in the old city of North Adams, Mass, in the gorgeous Berkshire Mountains.  And making music together again.

Our boys, along with several friends, were playing a free concert sponsored by the City of North Adams. “Flannel Dan and the Panhandle Band” were the featured band tonight.  We were pretty excited!

So we packed a delicious picnic, loaded up our lawn chairs, and headed out to the shores of lovely Windsor Lake in North Adams.   The sun was setting, and the golden light covered the lake and the trees.  There was a sweet, cool breeze blowing over the people who were scattered across the lawn.  We broke out our cheese and crackers, our salsa and chips while we waited for the band to begin playing.

We looked around at the rest of the audience, which was made up of surprisingly “mature” people. Most were white haired (like us!), but there were also a few clusters of young families, as well as several groups of twenty somethings who were mostly friends of the musicians.

I found myself looking with some longing at one young Momma with a tiny boy in her arms, wrapped in one of the silky baby carrier wraps that I recognized from my own daughter.  I approached her to admire the baby, and found that he was exactly 4 days younger than my new granddaughter.  He was just beautiful!  I wanted to hold him (I really, really, really wanted to hold him!) but I reigned myself in.  I introduced myself to his pretty young Mom, who turned out to be a friend of our sons.  I admired the little one, and went back to my picnic and to “Grampa”.

The music was really wonderful; we haven’t heard our boys perform with a full band for years now. We were both amazed at the professionalism and the ease of the performance.

But I was distracted.  I have to admit it.  I was distracted by the beauty of the sky, and the lake and late summer scents.

And I was distracted by the antics of a tiny golden haired boy, about a year old, who wandered away from his Dad to cross behind the band.  His huge, serious eyes and the way that he kept looking behind him to make sure that his Daddy was following reminded me so much of my Matt, the bass player, when he was that age.   Wanting to explore, needing to be safe.

I was distracted, too, by the energy and joyful clowning of the three year old boy whose Mom sat on a blanket next to ours, eating her picnic sandwich and trying to entice her child to share.  He, however, could not be bothered with mere food. He was too busy racing around in circles, dancing with both hands held to the sky, and hurling himself onto the blanket in a tangle of legs, flailing arms and bright red sneakers.

He could have been my Tim, the drummer, at the very same age.  The sparkle of mischief in his eyes had tears coming to mine.

I sat back in my camp chair. I held Paul’s hand and let the rich harmonies of our sons’ voices swirl around us.  I was so happy to see the strong, talented, happy young men that they have become. I looked at them, smiling at the beards, the height, the muscles in their arms.

I looked around me, saw the dancing little boy, the carefully exploring little boy.  I let my eyes rest on the sweet face of the newborn son in his Momma’s arms.

Every moment, every sweet memory of my years with my boys, went spinning and swirling and circling through my brain.

The music washed over me.  The sound of little boys giggling filled my heart.

It was a beautiful, harmonious, circular evening in the Berkshires tonight.   Life is a beautiful gift. It brings us new ways to love our children as they grow.  It shows us new ways to admire and appreciate them with every step that they take.

And sometimes life gives us an evening full of music and harmonies and perfect rhythms that are accompanied by the sounds of a baby’s cry, a toddler’s laugh, a little boy’s joyful shout as he dances to the ringing of the guitars.