June 2015


This morning I put Write Something somewhere near the end of the to do list I made for myself, which mostly included house and desk chores, and needed something fun. Now, just past 11, I decide to make it happen, two hours after my oldest son checked out and went to his room, one minute before my second son arrived home from his night on the town, eight hours after my youngest, the gal, headed to Harvard Square to meet her friend, on her way to Holliston, far, far away, to spend the night with a group of friends, first sleepover of boys and girls together.

I’ve hardly written here this year. Life has been a little weird, not so writable. I tried writing poems for a class, found myself too busy in June even for that once a week commitment. So here I am, nearly into July, trying to think of what to say.

We spent a lot of this weekend and this morning syncing calendars. On Saturday my daughter needed help transferring all her summer plans onto the paper calendar I gave her for Christmas with children’s book illustrations of the classical, fairy in the wood sort adorning each month. This morning we added her medical appointments, after calling the dentist and the doctor, and then my middle guy and I edited the family online calendar so he could let his new job know his availability, a task he did on their online scheduling calendar he found hard to understand.

At dinner, my older son and I talked about various weekends he’ll do his thing and not our thing. That seems to be the way it goes.. As I said to him, I feel like the keeper of the calendar..without much of a life of my own to schedule..but I’m learning that, too. Tomorrow at 10 to midnight Richard and I will be at Johnny D’s listening to Afropop music, hopefully dancing, too. The kids will be all over the place, oldest at a dance festival in Cambridge, middle working tech at Improv Boston, youngest fast asleep in her bed, or texting, recovering from a couple of days with friends. The summer is shaping up like that..I’m learning after a rough start hoping for two of three weekends to be spent together in Ashfield, that this round is about syncing calendars, about knowing where everyone will be, or at least sorting that out in an ongoing way, rather than planning time together.

There are a few plans for some of us to hang together. One weekend I’ll be at Woolman Hil with two of the three kids and Richard. Another few days I hope two of the three at least will be in Ashfield with Richard and me and the housemates and some combination of their three kids. I invited my mom and brother and his family and my sister and her crowd of kids and teens and our Ashfield housemates with their three teens and young adults  to join us in Ashfield one or two of three weekends in June and July. After wrestling my three and waiting to hear back from the others for nearly a month, I’ve given up. Not to mention Richard’s two young adult kids who figure in there somewhere, too.

I’m starting to catch on. Planning with teens and young adult children is a bit like Improv, a bit of a mystery, requires tenacity, patience, humor, more self-esteem than I had when I began, a willingness to let go of the need to be together, and hope that the small connections over dinner, before and after work, late at night, will be enough to bind us. In this awkward stage of life there is also the beginning of the life that lies ahead, of the return to life alone and/or as a couple from a life of being mom, some parts ease, some parts loss.

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This winter/spring I signed up for a poetry class, even though I can’t remember ever writing a poem. The instructor was a former day care mom and friend who had invited me to join, whose class I had hoped to join for years. I only made four of the eight or ten sessions, wrote only three poems, but the third one made me feel I might write more, and the class made me so happy I hope to join again if and when the timing works. Thank you, Nadia, and the poetry group, for making my winter into spring so much lovelier.

Here is the third poem, which the class seemed to like, and which made me think I might learn to write a proper poem.

A Week After Mother’s Day

Mothers learn later than fathers
that our children can live without us.
I’m learning today,
taking a mac and cheese out of the oven,
mixing up the batter for a banana bread,
while all three children go on
eating and making plans
outside my kitchen.

Later, they’ll eat what I’ve made,
standing at the counter,
over a laptop at the dining room table,
in front of the tv,
maybe at the table on the porch with me
if I ask and we time it right.

When I pause from mixing to take my mug out of the microwave it shatters.
Milk and love splatter all over my kitchen.
I hold back tears and step away to write this poem and catch my breath.

A week after Mother’s Day I lose what feels like the last of my children’s father’s love for me.
The handmade mug, part of a set now split between our houses,
a glowing purple globe that matched the kitchen cupboards he painted to make me happy, breaks just where a whole cupboard of Mother’s Day mugs and wedding plates smashed over my daughter’s high chair many years ago,
making us grateful our girl wasn’t buried in the dishes.
That day my mother helped me sweep the shards, next Christmas she replaced the wedding plates.
This round my son walks into the kitchen, looks on in amazement, says,
There sure was a lot of milk in that mug!, goes to his room, shuts the door,
comes out and calls good bye as he leaves the house, late to meet his friends in Boston.
I’m on my own, sweeping the shards into a dustpan I’ve had for years.