Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Place for You

Dear Frances and Charlie,

I wonder often these days if we've chosen the right place for you. Cape Breton is a place of immense beauty and immense heart. Its history hangs thick in the air and is wise and comforting. But there is this sadness here too. And loss and grieving. Grieving is good, for those who can remember the times and the places they are grieving for, but what about you? What is it like to grow up in the sadness and heaviness? More importantly, what is it like to grow up among the things that we do to ourselves and each other when we are sad and heavy? The anger and the dishonesty and fear.

Tonight I had a thought though. A break from this doubt that follows me around more days than not. Maybe, the place is not as important as I've come to think it is. Not just this place, but any place. Maybe it isn't about choosing the very best place or this place over that place. Instead, it is about how you see this place and all of the places life will bring to you; a seeing informed by how you see the world, by an ability to find the beautiful and the brave wherever you are. By an inclination towards gratitude and a tendency to string together all that you find to be beautiful and brave and hold that in your heart.

I thought too about the places where we grew up, the communities we lived in. Or I tried too. But I don't remember much about them. I think, maybe, when we are little, our worlds, our communities are small. Crucially and beautifully small. My grandma's front porch small. The loft in the falling down barn small. The brook under the bridge in the driveway small. These are the places we lived. Not in boardrooms, or newsrooms or council chambers. And if it is the small places that you will inhabit for the next few years - the porches and brooks and barns and backyards and beaches  - well, they don't come more beautiful than right here, in this place.

With so much love,
Your Mama

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On the Eve of One

Little Bear,

Tomorrow you turn one. One. I see pictures of you now and think who is that little boy? In my arms, you fit the same, as perfectly as you did three months ago, six months ago, nine months ago. You have become so naturally a part of me I'm surprised to find you've grown at all.

One year ago, when our doctor set you tiny and new on my chest you whispered to me that you were home. I pulled the warmed blanket up over you, you exhaled, nestled in and fell asleep. Amid the noise and lights there was just you and I and so much peace.

This last year has been the very best of all years. I am overwhelmed, incapacitated sometimes, by how blessed I am. That I should get to be mama to you and your sister is the greatest gift this beautiful world could ever give. I am forever grateful to you and the boundless joy you bring.

Your affection consumes me. You hug and cuddle and every once in a while lay perfectly still in my lap. Deep in thought it seems. I hold my breath in the hope that maybe, just this once, time will stop. You have long be a sweet little kisser. You make the most perfect up-tilted lips pursed kissing face, wandering about in search of recipients for your tiny presents.

You as handsome as handsome comes. Each day I am stopped, taken aback, by your beauty. Your blue eyes sparkle like none I've ever seen. Outside, against the clear sky they change and grow, deep and wide, taking pieces of it into them.

You like to move. You took your first five steps on the day you turned ten months. You held your arms high in the air and your little face beamed with such pride as you followed each tentative step with another. Two short months later it is as if you have never known anything else.

You love to be chased. You squeal and giggle as you only half-try to evade capture. You are busy trying to figure out how to jump and bounce. You study your sister when she leaps into the air again and again, bouncing amid the pillows and blankets on her bed. You bend your knees and will yourself upwards, so close to leaving the ground and knowing the childhood delight of sailing into the air.

You can climb and have done so with ease for some time (often to our great gasps). Each day you signal for us to pull the cushion off the living room chair so that you can crawl up and peek out the window at the birds and trees and Bella, the puppy down the street. You can climb up the stairs, up into the stroller and halfway up into your highchair. You are determined and agile and have such mastery of your small strong arms and legs.

Your first word was hot. When the kettle whistles you turn to us in hushed tones and say hot. You can say hat and hi and wow and fish and yes. You mama and dada all day long. I'm pretty sure you understand the meanings of both but prefer them as chorus and chatter.

You have ten teeth and have worked so hard for all of them. Your poor little gums swell for weeks before each new arrival but you endure. We will all be so happy when ten is twenty and there are no more on their way.

You love your bath, the kitties, grapes, being held, eating rocks and crayons, making faces, fridge magnets, playing the harmonica, pulling apart Lego, opening and closing doors, and sitting in baskets.

You love to be outside. When the days were warm you learned how to push open the screen door and step down onto the balcony. You are happy in the backyard, at the park, and in the stroller. I hope, with all the busyness and inside to-do nonsense of our lives some days/weeks/months, this love stays with you.

Charlie, this year has been a whirlwind of the very best kind. You have brought into our lives a love like we have never known and that we cannot imagine ourselves without. You are kind, inquisitive, calm, loving, daring, determined, and sociable. Happiest of birthdays little bear. I love you.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Little Charlie, 

One month left until I'll return to work and my heart is breaking. I blinked and your first year passed by. You were sleeping tucked up warm beside me on a snowy December morning. I got up to fill a cup of coffee and the hottest days of summer had crested; the first leaves had begun to change. The thought of all the days yet to come passing by as quickly fills my heart with melancholy. And that's not what is called for in our last few beautifully slow and rhythmic weeks together. Now more than ever I'll need to be a vigilant reveler of small moments. Focused, so focused, as you find a new steadiness on your feet; as your brave hands and heart reach out further and further. Present, so present, as you bring together the melodic bits and pieces of your first words. Collecting seconds, minutes, hours. Wishing more fervently than ever that I might slow time.  


Monday, August 19, 2013

Broad Cove August 2013

My loves,

This summer we took our first camping trip as a family of four. It was wonderful. Perfect. The sun was full, the night sky was clear, the beach, just minutes from our home in the woods, was bound by ocean on one side and river on the other. We toasted sticky pink marshmallows, ate ice cream from a lighthouse, and rolled, jumped and toddled from bouncy air mattress to bouncy air mattress. 

As we packed up all of our many necessities and sketched out the trip home in our minds, I longed already for next year's adventure. We were less than two hours from our day-to-day and passed nine other families in tents on our way to and from the (loveliest of) bathrooms, but it felt like we had crossed the sea. Looking down and seeing the two most beautiful smiles and nothing else, no dirty floors, no unfolded laundry, no swell of e-mails waiting to be answered, was my most cherished sight this summer. There is power and beauty in stepping away from the unnecessary, and so much is unnecessary; a most moving and welcome lesson.

Frances, you adored the Englishtown ferry. Your cried for forty-five minutes after our short return trip on the Torquil McLean, pleading with us to take you back. You drank from your first water fountain, rediscovered a love of colouring, went to bed late and woke up early, lost a small cow friend on the beach, and spent lots of time exploring the back of Grandad's truck.

Charlie, you discovered graham crackers, had all your naps in your dad's arms, learned, after some resistance, how to sleep a in moving vehicle, shared and loved mama's carrot soup, ate a lot of grass and pebbles, delighted in scooting in and out of the tent, were ever charming and sweet with very little sleep, and seemed to bask in having all of us so close by all the time.           

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dear Charlie

Yesterday you turned three months old; three months since you arrived fast and sleepy and settled in so very naturally to this home of yours. Much like the day you were born, you are today incredibly handsome and charming. When you smile, all of you smiles: lips, eyes, arms, legs. And you smile a lot. You, little bear, are possibly the sweetest, calmest, happiest baby there ever was. You spend your days watching and listening, wiggling your fingers into your mouth and cooing at anyone who gazes into your big blue eyes. You are an adoring little brother, observing carefully as your big sister bounces left and right, waiting patiently to catch her eye and melt her heart with one of your ear-to-ear grins. 

It is such an amazing and humbling experience to step back amidst our daily chaos and feel so suddenly overwhelmed by how much you and your sister have blessed our home and hearts. Thank you, little man, for being you and for being ours.

With love forever,

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