January 2019

This morning I feel a bit new. My new hires are due to arrive soon. One is coming tonight to do the last bit of her application and then the licensor has promised to issue her letter of approval, so she will be with us sometime in the next two weeks. The second is prepared to start in March. Akira has gotten his approval and has been subbing the last few weeks, hitting his stride with the kids and routine. I’m preparing for my tax appointment this coming Thursday, and have this morning to work on that, my first Thursday morning off in a long time, soon to be a regular thing, then full days off on Thursdays, then Friday afternoons as well.

Time will start to to feel more leisurely. I’ve looked at the yoga classes I might once again attend. The house is starting to feel less neglected, more cared for and up to date. Akira’s painted several rooms. He removed the layers of paper and paint from the room that was first my work room, when Eric and I first bought the house, twenty years ago when the room was covered in primary colored clown paper, which we painted over twenty four years ago in a glowing terra cotta for our first baby Ben, with a cloud ceiling I painted myself with my belly bulging, full of anticipation. That room was the boys’ room and one of the early day care play spaces until we moved the day care downstairs, then built a third floor space where we all slept when the kids were small. Eventually Eric’s office moved to the room, and he painted it forest green..then when Eric moved out Ben made that his room, forest walls matching his need for privacy and quiet, desk there for his computer gaming, futon for sleeping until I bought a new mattress for myself and gave him the my old. Then it was a room for him and his gals, when they were here his last year of school and through college, and his belongings when he was away at college. When he graduated and moved to New York it became a room with two open doors, opening up the third floor, making a second passageway from the front hall to the kitchen and bathroom, parallel to the dining room way, as this narrow workers house hasn’t got room for hallways. Since then it’s been a study and guest room and has been rented in two stretches of eight and six months to a woman and a family, of three family moved out in September. We’ve been renovating since.

Now the room is stripped of the clown wallpaper and terracotta and forest green paint, freshly plastered, painted off white on two and a half walls and stem green around the windows and closet door. The futon (formerly a day care family’s, then Ben’s in college and New York before he got a mattress) is covered in a vintage bedspread. The windows have floral curtains my daughter and I once found at Goodwill and hung in her room, til she tired of them. The desk is a hand me down from a elderly neighbor of an old friend, from a Catholic college before that. The file cabinet was once for our family, then for Eric’s work, then for Ben’s clothes and magic cards. Now its’ repaired by Akira and ready to hold files for my family and my business and myself. Setting that up is an ongoing project I hope to get back to once the taxes and financial aid are filed and the day care budget and contracts for the coming year are sorted out. There is always more desk work to do.

Today I’m coming out of the wilderness into the light. My plants are sitting in the sink having a good soak. I’m listening to Ella Jenkins, which I’ll share here with you, have cleaned the kitchen, had breakfast with my guy, a cooked version, not the usual weekday morning rush, and have a few hours to send out W-2s to my workers and continue entering data for the year’s income and expenses before heading downstairs to be with the children.

As hard as it’s been to work 55 hours a week and more the last five months, I’ve enjoyed being more present with the children and families and working with all the staff and long term subs who’ve made it their business to get us through this surprise transition in staff.

Yesterday my little guy, who comes only two days a week, and is away a lot, came in, put his arm on my shoulder as I sat on the floor playing puppets with a group of kids, and just relaxed as his mom left. Only a few months ago, saying good-bye was hard, and now it’s not. He’s also come out of the wilderness. We do that. We get a bit lost and worried. We panic, even, facing change and unknown, and, if we are lucky, we find our way. With love and kindness and perseverance and some broken bits, we come out of the wilderness, never knowing when we’ll find ourselves there again, resting in the calm places between the wild ones.

For now, the study/office/guest room/work room is a tender, lovely place, cut glass and marble lamp from a yard sale, rose colored beaded shade from a Mason, Texas antique store, egg rock from Hull, pottery cafe au lait bowl from a potter my brother works with up North, mailed by him to us for the holidays, orchid from Akira, candle from my mom in a hand made holder from Laura and Dave all gracing the desk, making a space too lovely to do the taxes for now, better for yoga, meditation, and writing. So I’m sitting in the dining room instead, where the light through the three south facing windows is brighter than the light through the two windows in the north facing study behind me, and the ice crystals on the window are my nature art view on this below ten degree day. I hear the kids downstairs cleaning up and having breakfast with two teachers kind and gentle and together enough for me to relax and do my quiet work. Here’s to what is and what lies ahead, with gratitude for coming through the latest hard times.

Here’s the Ella Jenkins for you. It’s been too long since I shared a song.

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.