Spring

  It’s official. Our cars have a blanket of yellow dust on them by the time we leave work. We don’t know if we have a cold or if it’s just allergies. But we can’t stay inside even if we know we will pay for it later–Georgia allergies are intense. But, man, Georgia is gorgeous in the springtime. 

Despite the sniffly consequences, we have set into a new routine here. As soon as we’re all home, the kids are outside. Layla and Zade found some old bricks and have been making mud castles and forts. My kitchen utensils keep going missing; I found my soup ladle in an old strawberry patch bucket filled with their mud-water concoction last week. I want to pinch myself when I open the side door and say, “Kids, it’s time to come in! Dinner is ready!” They resist and act like I’m about torture them. Feels like a scene from a movie I’d watch as a kid as they take off their soaked, muddy clothes at the entryway and run straight to the shower (getting a few smeary, muddy handprints on the walls on the way). 

We’re settling in here and finding our new spring routine. Feels like the birds are nesting up, too. We have found three new nests in the last few weeks. It’s a marvel at how fast the outside is working. 

 As I sat on the steps and watched the kids play yesterday, I saw a tiny ant carry a sprig of straw three times its size. He was so busy at work, carrying it from one side of the sidewalk to the other. We’re definitely not alone in our rush. 

Seems like we’re all trying to get something done and get to the next all the time, but there is such rejuvenation in new seasons. In the spring, a familiar restlessness cloaks over the early evenings and long car rides. It’s got me buying new books and watching reruns of True Blood Season 1, the season before kids, the season of being the center of my own attention. 

The daylight savings has messed with our bedtime routine, but it’s given us more time together and lots of swirly, sherbert sunsets, so I’m not exactly complaining just yet. Layla grabbed my phone and took this picture last week and said, “you will love these later.”So much of this season seems two-fold. Beautiful blossoms have us using allergy meds; trees are fluffy pink and white and then turning light green just days later; it’s like watching a butterfly wiggle out of its cacoon. Artists become restless and want to leave the real world behind to follow the hum in their minds. Stirring. 

I’m appreciating how fast things are changing outside. Feels like the energy outside and our busy daily lives are sharing secrets as they watch me stare outside a little longer and whisper as I try to sneak a few more hours to myself before going to bed. 

Either way, I’m comfortable closing my eyes this new season and remembering how it felt just the year before. You already know I’m a sucker for the nostalgic. Happy Spring, friends (And if it hasn’t felt too springy where you live, just know it will happen soon enough).

Welcome the stir.   

When the Fog Clears

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I have friendships and relationships, not so old and not so new, that transcend beyond the most central ones to my life today. My imagination harbors a special few. Sometimes I dismiss them as ghosts, but mostly I feel them through me when I’m moved by a quiet beauty, as if the culmination of all that energy and passion rush back magnetically from the sky and flow into my personal space like tiny particles reuniting. When they hit, they are painfully beautiful. They blanket my current frustrations and dissatisfaction, offering a harmless, quiet exit from the mold. Recently, I spent a great deal of a car ride back from a breathtaking waterfall in this restless head escape.

My childhood friend D graciously arranged for our two families to have a family photo shoot on our recent vacation in Seattle. The drive up to the falls was enough to set the stage for a remarkable day. But when we got there, the kids didn’t want to wear coats, and then they did, and then they wanted to splash in the puddles and flail excitedly around tourists, but they refused to smile while facing the camera. It was as if they conspired to push while I tugged; I said right, they went left. I felt like the ragged mother unsatisfying her kids and unsatisfying the moment. I’m sure the pictures will turn okay in the end, and that will erase a memory of feigned grace, but as always with my reflections, I feel guilt.

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Instead of focusing on how I should let the kids be kids, take the moment for what it is, accept and appreciate the present, I wanted to get my hands dirty with a truth: I fear I’m losing my humor in parenting. I know without a doubt what I give my family, setting up the foundation for their daily and future lives, but I’m in a tough stage now. November craze isn’t forgiving of my ever-growing responsibilities, and hearing, “Mom?!…” followed by a litany of problems to solve is grating at me.

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I wonder if my kids notice when I stare off into space. When I’m showing them something wondrous like this passionate waterfall, when the mist gently clings to our hair and slowly soaks into our coats, puffy and slick with cool black, do they notice I’m traveling back and forwards in time, staring at my life and wondering about my place in it? Are they vulnerable to absorbing my own inner wars?

I remember quiet car rides with my parents en route back from a gathering of Persian families or long rides to Toronto with the radio playing easy listening tracks, and I swear I could sense what my parents were feeling. I sense my dad’s tension or my mom’s sadness (almost always masked by her dedication to shield me from it); I felt like such an old person. Despite all the love and goodness they have unconditionally given my brother and me, my parents couldn’t shelter me from the unsaid. I was emotionally in tune with them even if I didn’t have the contextual maturity to process what I felt. Often, they didn’t expose me to the real, but I’d find out about it anyway.

Until the fog clears, I am dazed by the present. I’m guilty of zooming to a place that is thick with imagination, lustful for a place where unfinished, unfulfilled worlds are real. I’m even thankful for this sway, this rhythmic consolation. Adele has a song called “A Million Years Ago” on her brilliant new album; she says “I know I’m not the only one… Sometimes I feel it’s only me, who never became who they thought they’d be.” I’ve been sinking into this place in stark reaction to the very real stresses of being a parent and making a home. I will get through it because I know inherently that the place of frustration holds a secret promise that I’m not just one thing, that I can be a barnacle clinging onto something breathtaking just to survive through it to see what it all really looks like when the fog clears.

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October 1st

A season has passed since I’ve connected here.  The way one has the best intentions to call a cousin to check on her or to visit a friend she hasn’t seen in a while, I have known I’ve wanted to come back here.

Confession: I’ve been having an affair with really good TV. I’ve been allowing characters and intense plots to give me that ZAM, a feeling I described to my good friend today.

I suppose ZAM is the spike of intensity and creativity and rebellion that lays around in me for a bit and then flares up. Whenever my life gets the busiest, even through the heaviness in my bones or the dull headache from a busy day with students, I crave it. But instead of writing patiently, I watch. I leave on the light on the bookshelf in my room, and I let Showtime scratch the itch.

In my defense, it’s been a very busy few months. Days and weekends have been packed.  I know I will miss these days when hours fly so fast, when the day is mostly structured around my little kids at home and my young adults at work. I’ll remember this sometimes and try so hard to lasso the moment, but I admit that sometimes I just want no noise, no questions, and nothing to consider.

So I trade some sleep, a precious currency, with a show. A little vacation. I’ve learned long ago that having some sort of a plan makes flexibility much more enjoyable. That said, I have let some overplanning happen, and I’m looking forward to that winding down a bit.

Took the kids to a softball game at school

Took the kids to a softball game at school

Recently, we re-did the kids rooms so each child has his own space. Originally, I wanted the kids to have bunk beds and share the same room until they grew out of it naturally, but I noticed that the age gap between Layla and Zade affected Layla. Whereas Layla respects the process in her playtime, Zade’s the center of his own world. We did lots of purging and creating to give them their own rooms. I’m grateful that they play together even more now than before the new rooms, and I’m enchanted with their little pink and blue spaces. Layla and Zade celebrate birthdays close together, and they are definitely buddies, so maybe a little space will let them grow even stronger while strengthening their relationship simultaneously.

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Tomorrow is October 1st, a marker of the fall for me. Both kids were born when the leaves were just starting to turn, and I met motherhood those few months before the winter. My favorite season smells of cinnamon and cool night-time air. I know it’ll be a little while before we’re in the heart of Fall, but I’m so eager for orange and black decorations and trips to Hobby Lobby with Layla. I can’t wait to watch them stare at the jack-o- lanterns in awe and to get them dressed up in costumes.

Layla and Zade Jack

In the limited time after my kids are tucked asleep and some of my nightly to-do is done, I plan to make this work again so I can continue to lasso moments and reflect.  A season is too long to put off writing–even for casual ZAM.