Feels like a new year in so many ways..children growing into new places in life, day care partnership shifting in big ways, home quieting down as children grow up, new day care staff and children here and on the way, annual reckoning of accounts and preparing of budget for the coming year, paying of big bills, even a new stove coming to replace the one with the broken oven door, the unreliable oven, and the missing stove knobs.

In this place of in between there are moments of deep pleasure, sharing a meal and conversation with the children and a visiting family, singing and making music and drumming and dancing with the day care children, Thursday night drum circle, reunited, Friday night dinner initiated by my son and his gal, with my gal and my guy, Mrs. Maisels late at night under down comforters on the couch betwen my gal and my guy, a shared bedtime in a stretch of too few, time at the park in the sun, time to marvel together at a huge flock of birds around Matignon, moving between the trees for perching and the trees for eating, children and adults and neighborhood nanny and her charge sharing the awe, wonder, nature, art in the arc of the birds echoed by ominous black helicopters overhead further North reminding me of an e-mail from Sue letting me know about a murder in another local park, wonder and horror in one moment.

There is letting go, of times spent with my own younger children, of family and relationships that have shifted, of lightness of being, which is not now, as a staple but as a condiment, a treat.

The people I’ve held close are suffering deeply. I’m doing my best to be present. This means feeling the suffering, too, as well as holding an image of the light.

Children have a way of finding those intersections of light and dark and holding them together. One three and I have been enjoying our time together very much. There is a story about one of the hardest days of my kids’ lives, a hiking trip with their dad with blisters, ground bees, thunder and lightning and despair and panic, which she requests again and again and again. Yesterday I asked her why she likes that story. She is big enough, is what I think she said. Holding hard stories is a sign of maturity, a sign we know life is larger than the hard parts. Hearing stories of others’ troubles allows us to accept and understand our own. It also shows us the strength we humans muster when faced with the worst, which I have to believe helps my three to build faith in herself and in the world.

We face hard things. We get blisters. We get stung. We trudge and panic through thunder and lightening and hunger and darkness and despair. We get to the bottom of the mountain we thought we’d never reach and go out for big plates of spaghetti, if we are lucky, then on to home where our mothers give us hugs and the next day is not on a mountain and there are no new blisters, no ground bees, no thunder and lightening and despair. Maybe there is television on the couch under a blanket and good food and rest. Maybe we don’t hike for a long time for pleasure after that hard time and maybe eventually we join the adventure club, maybe we become the one who can organize the others in breaking camp, maybe we become strong and learn to endure and enjoy the world in ways for which that early experience prepared us.

Sharing stories like these with my little ones reminds me of all of that every day. Lucky life, lucky, lucky life, I must remind myself. New Year, New Day, small ones to remind me to be where I am, to hug and kiss and feed and nurture, to dance and sing and read and make beautiful things, to connect and pretend and play, to cook and clean and be tidy to make a place we all can enjoy, to pay the bills and keep the staff and families and house mate happy, to keep things warm and cozy and open and light when we are awake, and to dim the lights when we share a meal or take a nap, to honor the places of vitality and of calm. Turns out it is a divine experience, heaven on earth, when it goes well, a lesson in living every day, an opportunity to start over again and again and again, to do right and live right and to help the smallest ones to do the same, hoping they’ll grow up to remember.

Writing here reminds me of all the gifts I’m receiving which my day are partner isn’t able to fully live right now and may not reclaim in the same way again. I feel great sadness for her loss. I also sometimes wish for her ability to take time for herself and her family, for the support she has from her husband and family, and for her ability to connect with the children and families outside of day care and over time. We have always had this complimentary way of being in the world. I run the day care. She connects with the children in play and imagination. We both love the place and the children and the community. It’s sustained us over time and it’s shifting so much neither one of us has been in a place of great ease.

We are both writing to find our way through. Through years of sharing the writing of the day care daily observations, we learned to make a story of our days, to find meaning as we type or write, to look at the patterns and to enjoy the artfulness of daily living, to live in wonder. I’ll be curious how this part of our shared history takes shape in each of our lives, how not only being with children at WFDC, but being identified as an “early childhood person” as my three called herself yesterday, and as a writer, continues to shape our lives over time, how partnership changes when one of us is working and running the day care and with the children every day and one is not.

We don’t know. More mystery. More wonder. More sadness and pain and loss and also more to discover. Pretty lifey here at the start of the New Year. Lots ahead to look forward to and probably plenty to dread. Most of that will be a story to tell. Let’s hope we can shape it in a way that makes meaning and creates connection as we have all these nearly eighteen years together, nearly as long as my marriage, longer than any close working relationship I have or will likely ever have.

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I’m in a funny place in life. New Year’s Eve and vacation give me opportunity to reflect. In my life, reflecting often coincides with writing. In this busy year of so, so much, I haven’t taken so much time for writing. There are reasons single moms working more than full time don’t publish a lot of novels or write a lot of poems or read a lot of books. There are also reasons they do and should.

So, today, this week, I’m returning to the writing of my story. I’ve missed that time in my day to follow the words and to see what comes. I’ve missed tuning in to the voice inside that is there if I can be still enough to hear it and calm and trusting and connected enough to let it guide me.

Taking time to listen requires a special indulgence on my part, to let the dishes go, to not vacuum, to get up early while my children sleep and sit at the desk alone, to miss breakfast and make tea and write, to clear one desk or surface or chunk of time and commit, to be still, to allow what comes to be, good, bad, ugly, beautiful.

I’m not sure who reads, so I also try to be a little careful, not to offend, not to violate privacy, not to put out a side of myself that might hurt a former lover, a child, a parent, a mother, a boyfriend, a friend, a sibling, that might put off a client or potential client, that might be a face I’m not ready to or shouldn’t share with the world.

This morning for the first time I thought about joining another writing group. This weekend I sorted piles of papers accumulating in my bedroom. Amidst those papers were stacks of pieces from the writing class I joined a few years back and dropped when life got full, when the writing felt less than satisfying, when the group felt dysfunctional, when finances were tight. A member of that group leads a free women’s writing group on Tuesdays in a Cambridge library and I’ve thought of joining. Maybe in the New Year I will. Or maybe I won’t.

Part of my ambivalence is not knowing what to write, what I could or should or might have to say. I try to remember that part of writing is finding answers to those questions, that the listening we do when we write is powerful in itself, that we don’t know what we are going to write until we write it, that writing can lead us to know ourselves in ways nothing else can, that I love writing for just that exploration of the unknown, for that connection to the creative process, to myself and to mystery, as for the craft or any ambitions to create anything in particular, or to be read.

For now, Proprioceptive Writing meets that need to write for myself, to find my inner voice, to shape my thoughts and story in words on a page. I can come back to it anytime, anywhere. It feels good. It helps. It shifts. Writing feels good. Writing helps. Writing shifts.

More than anything I’ve been feeling battered about, not in control, not in charge of what next. The shifts, big and little, are endless, for all of us. Noticing and integrating them takes quiet for me, reflection, and if I can pull it off, writing.

Writing gifts me access to thoughts and threads I have trouble grasping any other way. I can get up in the morning agitated and afraid and overwhelmed and sit down at my desk with blank paper and a pen and something will come. I’ll feel some gratitude. I’ll put a shape to my worries, to my sorrows, to the losses. I’ll put them down, get them out of my head. Even if no one, not even me, ever reads them after they’re written, I almost always feel better. Sometimes I also feel sadder, more alone, more desolate. Even then, it’s better when those feelings have a shape in words, not just in my body as aches and pains and discomfort and dis-ease.

Why do the words matter so much?

I can’t say. Photos can do something similar. When I’ve been fully absorbed in taking photos and once upon a time in making art, or when I am in the Drum Circle, or singing with the kids, at a Museum looking at art, reading a book or article, watching a movie or television show, having a conversation that moves me, I also feel that something inside shifts. I can let go the worries and find new meaning that otherwise might have eluded me. I can relax.

I’ve been reading three books this vacation, slowly, slowly, slowly, two by Thomas Moore about Soul and one about conversations between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu about Joy. I’m a seeker. Seeking in my own way.

I’ve lost my way with the Quakers. I can’t seem to find my way to Sunday Meeting for Worship. I miss it as I miss yoga and meditation, walks around town, writing, farmer’s markets, walks in the woods, Ashfield, and yet.

What I’m doing is being home. Home is where I want to be right now. With myself is where I need to be. Being lost makes me uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable makes me want to be at home, to make a nest here for myself and those I love, to surround myself with comfort, tea, candles, good food, cooking, beautiful things I’ve found or chosen or been given, been left, books, warm blankets, soft clothes, comfy furniture, music of my own choosing.

Making a nest I’m like a bird, the image I’ve been drawn to for the last many years. I read somewhere that birds are the connection between heaven and earth. That is my fascination. How to connect to the ethereal while remaining very much grounded here on earth.

Nature gives me that sensation. To walk in the woods and hear the sounds of whatever leaf is drifting to the ground, of the snow crunching underfoot, of the birds in the trees, of ice crackling, water rippling, is to feel that connection between heaven and earth.

Art, too, transports me. The ability of any of us to connect with what is inside another can be elusive. When we connect with another in words or images, in a shared sense of what is beautiful or meaningful or hard, we are less alone. In that I find divinity.

Prayer, newly returned to me after many years away, also connects me. I find myself talking to god, even as i don’t believe in any particular god, in god at all, and wondering what part of me is doing that, what part is drawn to pray, how I can feel comforted by an internal dialogue, by a message sent to the universe.

This year I may join the Friends Meeting at Cambridge. I began the process of inquiring over the summer. I’m not sure of next steps. That’s where I am. Not sure of next steps. Taking them every day.

Next step at this moment is to get up from this writing and stretch. After that, for a couple more hours, I don’t know. Then the plans for the day, with others, kick in. As I write this, I think instead of doing bills and chores, I’m going to read. I’m remembering my writing teacher reminding us that all writers need to read.

Taking time for reading and writing is ok, I remind myself as I write here. It isn’t time wasted. It might be the most important thing I can do right now. Who knows where it might take me. Being lost, I’m finding my way through the wilderness, willing to try paths to see where they might lead, without much expectation about where I’ll end up, aware that adventure lies ahead, as unclear as the future might be.

To live a creative life I can allow myself to be still, to take in new things, to create, to listen to myself and the world, to leave the to do list on the table and to see what comes. If I forget I hope you’ll remind me, readers, universe, god, teachers, family, friends, world.

It’s December 29th. I’ve been on vacation a week. I have four days before we re-open for the new year. My children have been home, intermittently. One left on the bus for New York after an early dinner last night. The other left for his gal’s apartment last night before bedtime. One is sleeping upstairs, will be here for some part of the rest of my vacation. Our plans are unclear. The kids, in their young adult lives, like it that way. We talked about this yesterday, along with the challenges of living in a family of divorce and all the ways we tried to make schedules that worked, and all the ways we failed and did our best.

The house this morning is untidy, in that post holiday, unstructured staycation way, someone’s charger cable tangled up with the throw pillow my daughter and I bought in a Portland indoor market this summer on the couch I rescued from the curb, Christmas tree in need of water, with gifts and wrapping and an unopened delivery tucked underneath it, table runner folded/piled at the end of the dining room table, box of vegan Christmas cookies at the other end, pen and pad in the middle, remnants of last night’s long run of Dutch Blitz, our new favorite family card game, introduced on Thanksgiving by my New York son’s new gal, played for hours by the rest of us after he boarded the bus last night and the Somerville son and his gal and the boarding school daughter had kindly cleaned the kitchen, aiming successfully to have it done by the time I returned from dropping New York guy at the bus.

At this point in life, the evidence of their being here is significant. I got up early, after going to bed at a reasonable time, hoping I’d have energy to clean house, to tackle paperwork, to pay bills, to take on some project or another, cleaning out a room or drawer or closet, hanging art back on the walls after painting, making and writing cards, even yoga and meditation and writing. Instead, I’m here on the couch opposite the charger cable and the pillow, next to the tree, in sight of the dining room table, hesitant to restore order, drawn to write here on the computer, wishing for the story to continue, not knowing at all what comes next.

Its that place in life, 52, kids now 18, 22, and soon to be 24. We’ve had Christmas Eve, Christmas, and three birthday celebrations in one week. The shopping and wrapping and baking and cooking and hosting are done. I’m tired. I’m a little sad. A little overwhelmed. A bit unclear about my own future, even as my children boldly and brightly take on theirs.

Midlife is messy. Its’ not the stage of life I played about in doll houses and Barbie worlds and under the cherry tree with the baby dolls and my childhood friends. We didn’t pretend about divorce, about financial fears, about friends and their health crises, about remaking home again and again and again. We didn’t have working or single mothers in those games, as far as I remember. Every child had two parents. Every family had one home. Every mother had sisters and a mother and friends nearby to help her carry the load. The houses were relatively clean, if cleanliness was even addressed in the game. The story was always unfolding. The homes were always being added to, redecorated, full of children and adults and activity.

We didn’t play about a quiet house in middle age the day after the adult children have left, four days before the single mom goes back to work, five days before the teenager returns to boarding school. This stuff isn’t in the books I read or the games I played, or even in the lives of the grown ups I watched and learned from and hoped to emulate. The single mom I knew was my aunt, and we all held out that eventually she would remarry, which she did, but only after the last child left the house. The other was my mom, who was widowed and soon remarried and stayed that way til we were all fully adults.

The kids I imagined left predictably, as I had, after a life in public elementary and high school, four years of college, and a decision to follow a job and/or a partner. This is not how my children have left or will leave. We are the family of the willy nilly. Start in public school, fight for that place, which falls apart. Go to Sudbury Valley one by one by one. Leave Sudbury Valley when you are ready, at 17, at 19, at 15, then return, if only for a few months. Go to college, graduate in four years or leave after a semester and a half. Go to Cambridge Rindge and Latin, leave after a semester and a lot of testing. Go to Landmark as a boarder, deciding less than a month before school starts. Move back home, move out gradually, then decisively.

All of this is within the range of normal. Almost none of it was expected or predicted by my early life of family stories and tv watching and modelling of my friends and family. We’ve made it up as we’ve gone along, as I’ve made up life after marriage, three long term relationships post divorce, no more marriages, no shared living, except time spent in each others’ houses, three pseudo step families of relationships, three worlds new to me I’ve entered, two I’ve left to return to what’s left of my own.

Through all the family and relationship changes I’ve had a pretty constant work life, though with phases of exploration of other options, home schooling, independent, and charter school startup ideas and attempts, a year staffing at Sudbury Valley, ideas about closing shop and moving to Western Mass, fantasies of returning to school to become a therapist or a financial planner, and this year, a six week closure and the loss of my long term day care partner and another of our four long term teachers.

It’s a lot. And yet. Love endures. Love finds new forms. The story continues. Its not entirely the story I expected or rehearsed, but some of it is familiar. Home and family and work and decency and love are all there and have been from the beginning. I was raised to cook and clean and to make a home for my family, to put my children first, to make community with others looking after children and one another, to travel, to enjoy life, in the food and fresh air and good company sort of way, to look after my finances, to be happy with a standard of living I can afford, not to acquire more debt than I can handle, to be a member of groups outside the family, to contribute in ways that matter, to take time to be quiet, to be in the woods, to be alone, to light a candle and make tea, to wear wool socks and flannel pajamas and cotton shirts and feel the comfort in close connection and even in silence, silence to which I will return for a bit while my daughter sleeps in her bed, bleach blond hair sticking out of the comforter cover of brown cotton and red poppies which her dad and I used to share when he lived here and she was small, worn and a little tattered, but still her favorite place to sleep, or one of her favorites, reminding me our home still a home after and through all the changes, a place with heart and soul and a life of memories, some we’d like to cherish, others we’d just as soon forget.

This year I have a group of kids who love to hear stories. Alice told me yesterday they are asking to hear stories from her childhood. She tells them about her neighborhood, her brothers and sisters, and the games they played sixty or seventy years ago.

The children ask me to tell Jonah and Isabel stories. At first I told stories of their childhood. Lately, I just tell the latest news. Jonah is working in a coffee shop, so I told about walking in on Sunday afternoon and seeing him in the kitchen with his co-workers and how I ordered one treat and got one I didn’t expect and was first disappointed, then given the one I had wanted for free, and how I wondered if that was because I was Jonah’s mom, or because the place was about to close, or both.

I tell stories about Isabel at boarding school, going to visit a friend instead of coming home one weekend, writing a poem about being twelve and independent and sharing it with her mom and dad over the internet, cleaning out her room and making her bed and keeping all her clothes in her dorm, going camping, rock climbing, eating her meals in a cafeteria with her friends and teachers, enjoying her independence at nearly eighteen.

The children, mostly the twos and threes and fours, find these stories fascinating. Every day they ask for more.

Tonight I hosted two little girls for dinner at my house while their parents went out for dinner at a fancy restaurant as a thank you to them for helping me through this hard year. The girls and I enjoyed Japanese food, udon noodle soup and dumplings. We used chop sticks and ate from the Japanese bowls my kids gave me for my birthday, drank tea from cups given to me by various grandmothers. We talked about Akira’s children, their names, how many there are, how they are Japanese and I’m learning more about Japanese food from being with them.

After dinner I washed all the fancy dishes and put the others in the dishwasher and the girls explored the house a bit, played the singing bowl and the glockenspiel, made designs with the magnet mosaic blocks I bought my kids just as they were outgrowing toys. Then we walked to their house a few blocks away, tracing the steps we have walked together to the park every day for all the years they’ve been in care, the five commenting on how weird it was to be walking with me in the dark, all of us noticing the holiday lights at the high school and the five commenting as we crossed Mass Ave how amazing it is that the whole world was made..by people, and me noting that the world made itself and the people have been making things the way they want.

Back at their house we lit the menorah. The five used the candle to light the others. Then she called for a drum roll and lit the tree. We brushed teeth, read two stories, turned out the overhead light and put the nightlight on. They fell asleep and I went downstairs for a few minutes before their parents arrived. We shared stories of our separate evenings. I told a few Isabel and Jonah stories. As I was leaving I realized out loud I felt as relaxed as I have all week, having had my fix of the coziness and closeness my children no longer crave, the oldest living on his own in New York, the middle one living mostly with his girlfriend, the youngest settling into a more full time life at boarding school.

Coming home in the dark, I looked at the Christmas lights and sky differently, having been with the girls as they leaned in close to look at the lights on the trees at the high school, having forgotten to look up with them and count the stars, as we had planned to do, which turned out to have been the kindergartner’s homework assignment. Turns out it was too cloudy for stars. I texted the parents some photos of the girls and the news of the cloudy sky for their gal so she would feel less bad about the  missed homework.

Do you like babysitting? She had asked as I tucked her in and prepared for the girls to go to sleep. I do, I replied, now that my own children aren’t home. It’s very nice to spend an evening with kids who want to read and talk and have a tea party and listen to music together. Very nice, indeed.

I don’t know if I’ll do it again, but this week it was just what I needed to restore some balance to my psyche. I could imagine someday being a grandmother and tucking in grandchildren and making tea parties and sharing a few toys left around the house, and that, in a small way, lit up the cloudy night with a vision for the future I’ve been struggling to find as I give up my life of close mothering at home.


For about a day I decided to make this blog private. For all kinds of reasons I felt protective of my story. The problem is I’ve been writing here so long. I don’t think it’s time yet to let it go. So, after a day, I’m back. I’ve got more questions than answers abour why and for whom and where I’m headed.

When I started writing I was confused. I wanted to find direction for my ideas about schooling. For many years I struggled with that, with articulating what I believed and with how to make it real.

I barely got started writing my ideas about how to make a place for children and work I believed in when my marriage, and in many ways, my life fell apart. I began writing about how we learn in a broader sense. Divorce is a sort of rebirth. I had so, so much to learn.

For the last ten years I’ve been writing here. For the first many years it was a lifeline. Some days I wrote more than once a day. Then things tapered off.

Now I wonder who I’m writing for and who reads what I write. Every so often someone lets me know they’re reading, but mostly, I write into the air.

For about two years I was part of a writing group. I worked with a writing teacher who had first been a parent in the day care, then my friend, and who held writing classes in her beautiful home near mine. When I realized I could work less, after leaving my year of working too much at Sudbury Valley and WFDC, I gave myself to writing in her group. After awhile, that no longer felt right and I stopped.

Since then I’ve written very little. I went through yet another break up. The third of my long term partnerships ended in hurt and loss last October. I didn’t want to write about it so much as learn to live my life again in community and in peace.

It’s coming up on a year since Richard left. I’ve got a new partner. Our relationship has built more slowly, and steadily, and has weathered a day care closure, a neglect charge, and the loss of my day care partner to family crisis for me, and a job loss, a shift to retirement, and other struggles for him. We’ve somehow managed to negotiate all that while having a ton of fun and being kind to one another and our respective kids and friends. We’ve also taken on projects around my house that have been building up for years, many of them currently in process.

For a year I’ve written less, done less yoga and meditation than I’d done the previous two or three, practices that had grounded me and connected me with my inner voice.

Maybe I’m grounded and connected!

Still, I miss writing. I miss words on a page. I miss seeing what comes as it spills out, miss the shape my thoughts take when I put them into words, into sentences, into paragraphs, into pages.

I’ve written over a thousand entries here. Sometimes I think of closing it down. I wonder how I’d ever transfer all the content to a place I could keep it safe until and in case I ever want to read it.

Most of the entries I’ve written and left behind. Some get read by others, by whom I don’t know, again and again, and so I read them again and again. There are a few of those about my dad, a few about my children, some with poems I fell in love with and wrote about in connection with my life, some about thinkers or books I’ve loved and how they’ve shaped me.

I can’t say what this blog is about, other than living, who its for, other than myself and anyone who cares to read.

When I was in the writing group my teacher and others were interested in publishing. I was not, though I would have liked to be. For me, putting thoughts here has been enough. Then for awhile I wasn’t even interested in that. I wrote in a journal, then on blank paper I stapled together and stacked in a drawer, following the Proprioceptive Writing practice that grew out of a yoga, meditation, and writing practice before that. Maybe someday I’ll find a way to put words together and to polish them and send them off to a publisher. For now, I’m not.

While I haven’t been writing, I’ve been doing other things, falling in love again, swimming (I got a new wet suit so I can swim into October!), making and listening to music, returning to the community of family child care to fight again for what our children need, fighting for WFDC and it’s future, fighting the neglect charges, raising and being with my kids, getting to know the children and friends of my new guy, becoming a more active Quaker, contemplating becoming a member of Cambridge Friends Meeting, feeling loved, reconnecting with my home, my friends, my local community, not spending all my time thinking of closing this life down and starting another in Western Mass, cooking, eating, exploring the Union Square Farmer’s market, visiting quite a few museums, watching tv, seeing movies, caring for my home and business, thinking about a future learning to become a financial support person to others, sharing my home with a family as well as a housemate, drumming, continuing with Sharing Circle, traveling and seeing friends and family in places I can get to by car, not traveling to exotic places, nor missing that so much.

Lots has been happening. I’ve been in my body more in some ways, in my senses, less in my head. My guy has taught me some tai chi, some tui na massage. We’ve been to a chiropractor. In the day care I’m caring for a baby and many toddlers. I carry and hold and dress and lift and push a lot of children in a carriage or a wagon, wash a lot of dishes, wipe a lot of noses, change a lot of diapers, smile a lot at little people who smile back at me.

Life is not, as my friend Ruthann reminded us at a recent women’s potluck at my former writing teacher and still friend’s home, as we expected. As Ruthann and I are learning, much of the fifties is understanding that, and learning to stop expecting things to go as we expect. It’s no longer “what to expect when you’re expecting” the title of a book I read too thoroughly when pregnant for my first child, but “what not to expect that you might have been expecting.” No more babies, no more cookie cutter living. Midlife and beyond, I’m making it up as I go, taking it as it comes. Wish me a whole lot of luck (and love and strength and power and happiness). I’m going to need it all.

Today I woke up with Liana here with me. She decided to visit after another day in the hospital. She brought her dinner, leftover mac and cheese made by a friend I’ve known since her daughter was in Macky’s day care. Her daughter interned with us two summers ago and is as lovely as a teen as she was as a young girl. To the mac and cheese I added steamed broccoli, tea my son had given me made in a pot my mother had given me, a candle from my housemate Maeve, and cookies I had made last week which I had shared with my son’s ultimate frisbee team of young men. I had eaten dinner earlier with my son and his gal, but I had broccoli and cookies and tea and we talked.

After our late dinner and conversation Liana was so tired she fell asleep in my daughter’s bed. I cleaned the kitchen and fell asleep in mine. This morning we both woke early. Liana dressed and left for a series of appointments and time with her son at the hospital. I showered and ate and left for the Appeal Hearing of our case at DCF.

While we were away, Anne, our third teacher, Alice, our retired teacher/volunteer/sub, and Michael, our retired colleague, friend, and now sub, cared for the children of WFDC, and Macky, Michael’s wife and our colleague and my close friend, accompanied me and Brook, our day care mom and pro bono lawyer, and Mike, our paid lawyer, to the hearing. At the hearing I had the privilege of hearing Brook question Macky, of Macky recounting her life in family child care, and our collegial relationship of twenty three years. Her description of her lifelong work and commitment to young children and their families and to providers of early education and care, and of the life of our park community, brought me to tears in the stark offices of DCF, across from the DCF investigator who supported the charges of neglect against Liana and me, beside the fair hearing officer who was hearing our case. I also had the privilege of telling my story and of being supported by a very experienced lawyer who is a very caring human, and who allowed me to once again reflect on our program, on our relationships with children and families and each other, and on the professional competence and care we have brought to our work for many years, as well as on the events of the day we left our little guy at the park that have lead to the closure and reopening of our program and all the legal work and activism that has required and inspired.

At home, I was exhausted, took a rest and nap, woke to try to get Akira’s application for subbing in the day care to be finalized at last, though we are as yet unsure. I am sitting at my dining room table in a quiet apartment with muffled sounds of children’s and teachers’ voices below. I have a little time to write, to do a load of laundry, to pay some bills and prepare some checks for deposit, before two evening parties, one with a group of friends from the Charter School days to express gratitude to those who supported one of our sons through a very hard time, the other with a group of women brought together by a former day care mom, who is also my writing and yoga teacher and friend, some of whom are learning what it means to watch our children leave home and to make life without them by our sides.

There are so many ways of honoring the lives we’re living.

Later this evening I’ll watch my son perform at Improv Boston, in a skit that may involve the clarinet I played in elementary, junior high and high school and the trumpet his brother played in middle school. Tomorrow I’ll attend memorial services for my sister’s close friend’s mother, who was part of many of our family’s holiday celebrations and died in the spring of cancer. Sunday we’ll roast a chicken and vegetables for dinner for friends. My daughter will be here for the weekend. Early Monday morning I’ll do the two hour round trip in traffic to take her back to school, then start another full week with children, covering Liana’s hours as well as my own.

It’s been years since I worked five full days with children in the day care. It’s been years since we’ve cared for an infant, since we’ve had so many young ones in the group. I’m fifty one and my fellow caregivers are not young. We are wise, and experienced. We love the children and enjoy our days. The work is also exhausting. This week I cancelled all my outside commitments in order to have the energy I needed for the children. I may do the same next week. I’ll see what it’s like and take it day by day.

Why name this piece This is the Day the Lord has Made, let us rejoice and be glad in it? It’s a day like any other. And it’s unique. Life just got lifier as an old friend used to say. One new crisis overlaps the last. One period of immersion in deep suffering follows another period of lightness and grace. And yet..all of it feels holy on some level, holier than it used to perhaps, as I get older, as the layers stack up, as the past loves and lives live in memory and the new experiences feel somehow richer and the future more unknown, more uncertain. Mystery beyond mystery. Only god, or the universe, or no one, knows what lies ahead. Only faith and hope and love can lead us on. A day like today, surrounded by friends, full of small and large moments of significance and insignificance, can remind us we are surrounded, held, not alone, here. I am, according to my recent love, DW Winnicott, is an assertion, not just a passive statement, which we feel in certain moments, which we know in others. Today, now, is one of those. I’m alive. I’m living. I’m here. I’m held and surrounded and loved, through it all. I have no doubt for now, though doubt is sure to return.

Today my son focussed all his visible energy on a task I’ve never attempted. He sat at the dining room table with a turntable his sister found on the curb, the laptop he and his dad pitched in to buy last Christmas, complete with music and film editing software, the sample pad he bought earlier this year to make a new for him kind of music, and a device I brought home from Akira’s today on my son’s request, which could connect the turntable to the computer for recording purposes. He worked on a piece of music from the time I arrived this afternoon until he left for his coaching job, and from the time he got back from that until I went to bed near midnight. My guess is he is down there working on it now.

My daughter returned earlier than I’d expected to boarding school, heading back with her dad last night rather than with me this morning. This year she’s in a debate class, hopes to build sets and create costumes for the school theater productions, take two math classes, maybe do roller derby and rock climbing, and change a bunch of things about the school she believes need changing, as well as earn money towards a spring trip to Europe with a group from school.

My son is living in East Harlem, playing club Ultimate frisbee, and dating a woman a couple of years older, working at a computer consulting company writing software and consulting, traveling to Atlanta one week out of every three, and earning enough money to live comfortably, pay off his student loans, and save towards retirement in his early twenties.

I have done none of these things! My children have surpassed me, each in many ways, each in ways unlike the others, as well as in some ways they have in common.

I long ago learned that my children were their own people, that they have gifts I don’t, that much of who they are and what they do is theirs, not mine, came from them, not me.

Still, there is something about this time in life, as I move beyond fifty towards sixty, and my children move out of their teen years into their young adulthood, that the surpassing stands out as a pattern that will only grow and continue over time. My daughter will continue to be more fashionable, more cool, more athletic, more self-organized than I will likely ever be. My middle son will continue to be more devoted to creative pursuits, to music, to writing , to performing, to radical politics, to solving the New York Times crossword puzzle, to absorbing and retaining information than I will ever be. My older son will continue to be more athletic, to understand the mathematical world, and computers, and hard problems i might never even be able to talk with him about in ways I can understand. He has already lived in New York longer than I did, even though when I was his age I had wished to make a life there.  He’s hiked more, traveled more on his own, than I have in my lifetime, and I’m well over twice his age.

There is a humility in this. As I accept that my career is likely going to become a smaller and smaller part of my life as I move through my fifties and into my sixties, I can see my children will be building their professional and lives as I let mine go. As I give up on a phd or a major career change, I may watch my older son approach a doctorate and my children make their way into careers that satisfy  and challenge them and bring meaning to their lives. I’ll watch my daughter bring her sense of style and design to larger stages, to more expansive personal and maybe public spaces. I’ll watch my middle child do things on stage i couldn’t have dreamed, more less pulled off.

This gives me hope. If my three children can surpass me in so many ways, what about all the children I’ve cared for and taught in my lifetime? What about all the children I’ve watched grow up and take on the world as adults? How many of them are surpassing me in how many ways? The world is lucky to have these young people and their energy to carry on. We middle and old agers are lucky to be able to begin to let go, to let those who follow consider and tackle and in many cases solve the problems of the world, to admire the ingenuity and creativity of the work the younger generation does and the art they make, the magic and beauty they bring to the world.

Tonight I’m up too late, having puttered on my computer, cleaned the kitchen, talked with my mother, and made my first fierce fall batch of stew. “My children have surpassed me” echoed in my head as I went about my evening, watching my son in his world of music and electonics, missing my daughter who I didn’t see this week for the first time in many, since she was at her dad’s for the weekend and didn’t get a ride back from me, and thinking about my older son, who I called earlier today but who I couldn’t leave a message because his voicemail box is full, cell phone message boxes not his technology. In honor of the artful lives my children are leading as they surpass me, I wanted to do my bit to hold up the model of a creative mom, so I finished the stew, cleaned the kitchen, and just after midnight, took my last half hour of wakefulness to write. We middle agers have life left to live and things to say. In my case a good deal of it still revolves around thinking about and admiring our children.