I’m honored today to introduce you to my wonderful writer friend, Melanie Haney, who writes over at A Frozen Moon. Go check it out and read her lovely words. Although we live in different parts of the country, we still struggle with the same issues: motherhood, faith, joy, and living the best life we can right where we are. I love her honesty, her flowing style, and let’s not even go there with her amazing photographs. Her pictures capture the essence of childhood, love, and fleeting moments that we often don’t capture.
We both wrote a back-to-school post and shared it with each other, so to read mine just mosey on over to her blog and check it out. Have a great week!
by Melanie Haney
The final damp breaths of August have exhaled and here we are.
We are back to school. We are pencils and backpacks and looking out for the first falling leaves, when really, we are still shaking the sand from our flip flops and sweating by each afternoon in our new school clothes.
We are morning routines that start too early and buses that are never on time.
And me? I am one week in and torn between my love for autumn in New England, and my hesitance to push my family forward another year so soon. I am another year older myself and feeling the middleness of it all, how if my life is a ladder with years for rungs, I am quite possibly approaching the center. Enough behind me to be steady on my course, enough ahead of me to keep me looking forward.
But mostly, I am tired.
Tonight, I am sweating, crawling under the table and sweeping every little unwanted bite from dinner into my palms – partially chewed hot dog, mushy canned peas, sweet potato fries with the ketchup sucked off – and while doing so, I am making my best attempt to meditate on goodness. To focus on the goodness of a meal that can nourish my children, the gift of having a floor to clean, the blessing of a body that can get down on hands and knees and that I am able to be the one home to do this (most evenings.)
All good things, wrapped up into this little life of mine, and I am thankful.
And then, Evie throws up in the bath tub.
While she stands, naked and dripping on the bathmat, I let the water from the tub and find myself (again) chasing partially chewed hot dogs, but this time down the drain in waves of warm soap and other unsavory bits. As I do this, the phone rings and my husband tells me he is just on his way home now. Yes, great, thanks, handful of sopping paper towels and toddler puke, k-bye.
Meanwhile, Alex is poking his head in and asking if I have had a chance to read his school paperwork yet. It’s a story about he and his friends and how one of them used to have brown hair, but the summer sun has turned it blond. It is not Shakespeare and I worry, while handing it back to him with an encouraging smile, that his new teacher won’t encourage him or praise him or guide him as well as his first grade teacher had.
It all just seems so fragile at the moment with him – approaching eight, losing teeth, asking each night if he can stay up later, the disappointment on his face whenever there isn’t time for just one game of UNO or SKIP-BO before bed.
I re-wash Evaline and Lila and wrap them in towels and remember that I am trying to slow down and focus. Right. Focus. I unplug the drain and I am thankful for water – for hot water, even – and enough to fill the tub twice. I am thankful for this wriggling baby girl in my arms who I don’t yet need to send off into the world to be assessed or judged or bothered by things like lunchboxes with her least favorite sandwich or who she is going to sit next to on the bus.
I am thankful for the time I have been given, with her and with all of my children. Towel-swaddled Evie and I stand in the mirror and kiss cheeks and touch noses. What a gift.
And then, she pees on me.
I kid you not.
Deep breaths. Focus. For this fall season, this is my life. And I will be thankful, be present, notice the good all around.
It’s one in the morning and I should be sleeping, but I am typing. Evaline stirs and comes to our bed. Of course, she did not wake in the hours between putting her to bed and when we went to bed. Of course, she did not disturb us while Vinnie was still awake and I was editing pictures while a slow documentary on the history of a board game (Monopoly) played in the background. No, she waited for this moment, for this quiet bedroom and my empty arms.
I put the laptop down and let her crawl all over me.
It’s two in the morning and she is still here, twisting and snuggling some, but mostly kicking. I nudge Vinnie awake to try and take her back to her room.
It’s six in the morning and Alex comes to our bedroom. Evie is here too, again. I think I might have slept an hour or two, maybe.
Lila bounces to the bedroom and informs me that I still need to pack their snacks. And that she likes chips. I blink at her and she quickly adds, but whatever you give us is good because all the food in our house is good!
Yes. All the food in our house is good. I pull the blankets back and here we go again. Four children, three bus stops to wait through, two snacks and lunches to pack, one house to clean, one wedding to shoot (tonight, another tomorrow). But in it all – in all this new routine, this autumn, this back to school madness, you are here and you are good and I will focus on blessings not nuisances.
I walk to the kitchen.
Asher greets me with a sheepish smile and two donuts hidden behind his back.
Oh, and wet pants and a wet bed.
At the bus stop, I sip coffee and people watch while my kids run around the lot with their friends. I notice the absence of our neighbor and his daughter and for a moment, I feel the wisp of death, curling itself back into my thoughts.
But then the bus pulls around the bend and the children all bolt to line up. I smile at the enormity of Lila’s pink backpack on her little girl frame. Alex turns from his place in line to send me a big smile and a goodbye wave. I drive home to poopy diapers and laundry loads and charging camera batteries and client emails and a text from a friend are we still on for a walk (in twenty minutes)? and busy-busy-busy.
Yet, in it all, goodness. In it all, a life, my life, written over seasons and chapters and papers that are scribbled on in cursive, in Crayola, in eloquence and in gibberish – with pages torn, spilled on, scattered on the floor and somehow shoved back into sequence.
And I am thankful. Folding laundry. Changing diapers. Muttering over the damp sheets on Asher’s bed, the spilled Cheerio’s on our kitchen floor. I am thankful for it all, every little thing that keeps me focused on the this place, this page, this season here on this middle-ladder rung moment of my life.