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Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

 
 

By Linda Phillips Thune

 
 
 
 
 

This Wind
 
     (For Annie and her sisters — Mother’s Day, 2010)
 
 
 
This wind lifts through
the grass and leaves and curtains
taking with it some dreams
     but not all
some tears
     but not all
some joy
     but not all.
What weighed unbearably
becomes light
riding away on this wind
brushing by my face —
invisibly, softly, sweetly —
on its way to where ever wind begins.
A fresh chance remains.
A clear view remains.
Prayers remain.
Love lives.


_________________________

 
 
 
 

About Linda: My name is Linda Phillips Thune. Writing, for me, has long been a series of offerings, gifts, to those who needed a thought, a prayer, a part of me. Now, as the focus of my life moves away from my children toward my self, writing is becoming my raft… I’ve loved words always, and after a long road to a Master’s in Literature, I am fortunate to share that love with my students. Recently, I lost a daughter. Her father, her sisters, and I are still wavering in the pain of her loss…hopefully, words will keep us looking to the light.

To read more of Linda’s writing, please visit her blog, In the Margins.

 
 

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Flowers Closeup, images of flowers grouped together,
photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





The girls were at camp for a week, which is the first time since this time last year that we had the house to ourselves. It’s late August, almost September, and this particular camp — which is always held the week before school starts — is the last hurrah of summer.

My oldest starts high school next week. During a few days off recently I began a room redecoration project with her. We had intended to go to the cabin for two days with Jim and Em, but I forgot about an orthodontist appointment for Dee that couldn’t be changed. So off they went while Dee and I set about redoing her bedroom.

She decided on a black-and-white color scheme with lavender, light blue, light pink, and other accent colors. We bought a new bedding set, plus two white shag rugs (I know!), a white desk chair, and a zebra print lamp. But the best part was when she got to select artwork for the walls. She found seven photo prints of different flowers, black-and-white with hints of color, in double-white mats.

I then purchased ready-made frames from Michael’s (my boycott there didn’t last long) and did something I rarely do. Instead of procrastinating and letting the new prints and frames sit untouched for weeks, I actually put them all together and hung them in a group on Dee’s wall.



Wall of Flowers, to hang multiple pictures together on the wall, I used this excellent “how to,” photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




The end of summer and beginning of school is a welcome time for me. Much as I enjoy the excitement of vacations and a general lazy feeling that lasts for two-and-a-half months starting in May, summer reminds me how much I cherish the routines that back-to-school brings in our household.

One such routine is quiet time for my artwork. With the girls back in school, that means they’re not staying up late on weeknights. Weeknights, often after 9p, are when I can pull out my jewelry and lose myself in the tactical work of designing bracelets, gluing on designs, sanding edges, and mixing resin.

Just last night, I worked on several new bracelets. I am always amazed at the vibrancy of the work and delighted any time a new color scheme or design emerges. I turn my music on loud — usually k.d. lang belting out hymns of the 49th parallel, James Taylor, or Collective Soul — and don’t look up again for hours.



Bracelets in Process, pieces coming together, (calendar
stuck on June), photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





But summer ain’t over ’til it’s over. Besides a couple of New Student orientations, the first day of school isn’t until Thursday. There is much yet to fit in over this last weekend.

Em is starting a new transition, too, from elementary to middle school. She also got new accouterments for her bedroom, such as bedding in bright oranges, magentas, lime greens, and turquoise. Jim has to fix the cool and colorful lamp inherited from Dee’s room, plus we have a few items yet to purchase. And there is still more to do to finish up Dee’s redecoration — the full length mirror, more wall hangings, and putting up the curtains that are being hemmed by a local seamstress.

It’s only now that summer is almost over that I can see how important these particular new beginnings are for my daughters. I like to mark beginnings — transformation in one’s life, new seasons, milestone dates, new roles.

And as I celebrate, it’s with a bittersweet heart because as the saying goes, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”



Mother and Child, antique framed Catholic print, hung to look over my art-making space, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

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vietnamese children (one)
 
 
                   vietnamese children (two)
 
 
                             vietnamese children (three)
 


Here I am, crouching in front of a temple in Hue, surrounded by children. They squeal, I smile. They tug at me, I hug them. When my guide enters the courtyard and sees me, he marches toward me, beside himself. He pulls me up from the spot where I am, a small child like them. “Watch your purse,” he hisses.

He’s not unkind. He just knows how children can be with tourists. But I’m not afraid. If they take something from me, more power to them. I shouldn’t be such a naive soul, should I?, for letting them dupe me like that. It’s the price I’m willing to pay to be with children, even if they’re not my own.

But the truth is, these kids don’t even try to take my things. They want to test their broken English and throw me some universal signs. Peace, love, all that. At this point on a trip to Vietnam, I need all the peace and love I can get. I notice children everywhere I go. I am beyond homesick.



child monk




Fast forward to today. Em packs Froggy and Meow. Froggy is a frog pillow that presently rests in the space between me and Em. His green warmth at my side assures me as our plane lifts from the tarmac and begins its bumpy ascent. Dee packs no stuffed toys, although this morning she took Merry, the horse she’s had since age three or four, to stay with Jim for the almost three weeks we’ll be gone. We’ll be gone. Me and my girls. Finally. In Vietnam.

This is something I’ve always done with my girls. Not the international travel, but whisking them away, the three of us sans Daddy. I’ve taken them to Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, where we tried unsuccessfully to put up a tent in the wind and ended up walking into the administration office and sheepishly asking for a room. We’ve been to Santa Monica, at the Hotel California, and when we drove into the parking lot from the airport—you won’t believe it!—that Eagles tune was playing on the rental car radio.

We’ve gone to Denver, with my sister and her kids, and also taken a road trip with them to San Francisco via Las Vegas. In Taos, the girls and I stayed in Mabel‘s room at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, and I didn’t tell them that my blog partner had once seen the ghost of Mabel in that very same room.

But those adventures pale in comparison to the three plane rides it will take to get us to Ho Chi Minh City. One of the flights is 13 or 14 hours long. I try not to dwell on it but wonder if I’ll be able not to when I have an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old sitting next to me. Not to mention Froggy.

And this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to see my girls’ reactions when I take them to the crowded colorful market where women tug at your sleeve and say “Madam, Madam!” or when we eat a steaming bowl of rice noodles and chicken for breakfast or morning glory sauteed in garlic for lunch. Will they agree that Vietnamese food is the best in the world?

We’ll float down the Mekong Delta, travel by domestic plane to a beach town I’ve heard about but never been to, stay in a luxury two-bedroom apartment right in the heart of bustling Saigon. All month long as the trip looms closer, I drive them around our hometown and tell them that driving on the streets of Saigon is nothing like Corrales. I want them to feel the chaos, the aliveness of it all. To see how a place half a world away wakes up, eats, lives, go to sleep. Is.

We are on the plane now. Em shows me a photo she just snapped with her cell phone camera of the landscape out the window of our plane, somewhere west of the Grand Canyon. The image on her small screen resembles those photos of Earth as seen from outer space. There’s the curve of the terrain, layers of atmosphere growing from light to dark blue as you move away from the land toward the expansive sky.

This is like us, I think, in the world, high above it all. On our way to places beyond.


safe travels


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poker mom

Poker Mom, ybonesy’s mom, Margie (hair up in curlers), on poker night, circa 1950s, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.






To my mom, QM’s mom, Liz’s mom, and all the moms out there:






you are the best!


happy mother’s day!






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1.

fish are social












2.

(with other fish)












3.

i am like that rare solitary koi












4.

left alone for a moment












5.

before the rest of my school darts to my side












6.

i can be a fish







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By Judith Ford


Image by Jude Ford, July 2009, in front of the Mathematics Building, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, photo © 2010 Jude Ford. All rights reserved.


This is my son, at the door of the math building at the University of Michigan. A month after this picture he’d go through that door to begin his life as a math PhD candidate and as a college teacher. He’d discover the frustration of trying to teach calculus to a bunch of freshmen who wouldn’t give a damn. Who wouldn’t share one drop of the passion he feels for his subject. Years before this photo, he’d told me, with tears in his eyes, that he wished more people could see how elegant and beautiful math was.

Despite the beauty of math, it was never enough.

My son started grad school a month short of his 21st birthday. He was overly ready and not ready at all. He’d had a summer of brutal awakenings, realization upon realization of all he missed out on by being a child math prodigy. Not that he could have avoided being who he was. He was blessed, as much as cursed, with an unusual mind, shunned by children who thought he was showing off, trying to make them feel stupid, when all he was doing was using the language and thoughts natural to him. He had a 30-year-old’s vocabulary by the time he was in first grade. I’m not kidding.

He and I had a conversation just a week ago, about his intellectual differentness. He pointed out to me that he’d met a lot of really smart people in the honors math program at the U of Chicago, from which he’d graduated last June. “There are a lot of people out there who are way smarter than I am,” he said. “I don’t think I was all that unusual when I was a kid.”

I disagreed. “Yes, dear, you really were different. It was obvious by the time you were 2. You learned things in big huge gulps. At a rate that wasn’t usual, that was, frankly, a little scary. And you didn’t know how to play with other kids.”

“I still don’t.”

“That’s what was scary to me when you got tested and those scores came back so freakishly high. I knew you were going to be lonely.”

“I don’t remember ever not being lonely.”

“Kids your age were intimidated by you. By third grade, they’d started avoiding you.”

“I thought they all knew this secret thing that I’d somehow missed out on. I thought math could make up for that. I thought it would solve everything. I was pathetic. I never learned how to be a human being.”

“How brave of you to see that,” I think I said. “So now what do you need to do?”

“I don’t have a clue,” he answered.

There’s ivy growing over the top of this door, up at the right hand corner. Brings to mind the academic cliché of ivied walls and the idea that this door, being partly occluded, is yet another incomplete solution, leading to an unknown and no doubt imperfect path. Math, a career in math, still won’t solve my son’s life or end his loneliness.

See the way he holds his arms and shoulders. His uncertainty and discomfort are obvious. And that he’s trying to be patient with me as I take his picture. He squints at me. He frowns. He knows I’m doing a mom thing that, for some reasons not clear to him, I need to do.

Does he know how my heart hurts for him? How much I wish I could soothe away the pain in his face with something as simple as a hug and a bedtime story. How these things, too, are mom things that I can’t help feeling. He doesn’t need to know. I don’t tell him and I try not to let him see.

He tolerates my hug when I say good-bye. He doesn’t hug back. He doesn’t hold on. His gaze, over my shoulder, already fixed on that door.

It’s trite to say that when he walked through that door he walked into the rest of his life. But I want to say it. So I am. He did. He walked into his adult life without a clue. Which is the only way possible to walk into one’s life. And interestingly, the only way that is, in fact, a kind of solution.


Judith Ford is a psychotherapist and writer who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was red Ravine’s very first guest writer, with her 25 Reasons I Write post. She joins ybonesy and QuoinMonkey in writing about Topic post WRITING TOPIC — DOOR. Judith’s other pieces on red Ravine include Mystery E.R. and a writing group practice I Write Because.

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lagoon on west lake of hanoi

Lagoon on West Lake of Hanoi, view from the lakeside pier at our hotel (Hanoi in the distance), January 2010, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

my dear Viet Nam
what lies beneath the water?
I see myself in you

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
______________________________________________________________________________________________


Postscript: It is three nights and three days since I’ve landed back in New Mexico after almost two weeks in Vietnam. When our plane hit the tarmac at the Albuquerque International Airport and the flight attendant came on the speaker to say that it was OK to turn on our electronic devices, I sent Jim the following text:
 

Landed



He wrote back:


Cowabunga



Cowabunga, indeed.




Landing in san francisco jan 9 2010






Coming back to my life in New Mexico is a re-entry of sorts. At first the transition is gentle. Jim has a dinner of pork loin, baked potatoes, and peas and corn waiting the first evening, and I sleep from 8 pm until 11:30 the next day. Day Two is another reprieve—soft hugs from daughters and Jim’s homemade chicken pot pie—before I’m fully reabsorbed into the fabric of daily life.

After the second night I am a full-time mom once again. I take my oldest shopping for a dress to wear to Winter Dance then plan a menu involving potato-leek soup. I want to sleep during the day but I don’t indulge my longings. If I take a nap, I risk not being able to wake up without feeling like I’ve just emerged from a 100-year slumber.

Something I’ve learned from my trips abroad: unpack within 24 hours of landing and put away my suitcase; else, it will sit on the floor for weeks, a trip hazard in the night when I wake up at 3 am and decide to get up. To avoid hitting an underwear shortage mid-week, I wash and dry, if not fold, my laundry. Connect with friends and family. Pick up where I left off on commitments. Each one of these actions helps me be fully present now that I’m back.



∞ ∞ ∞





There is something about traveling abroad that suits me immensely. I love the solitude of sitting on a plane that’s bound for somewhere far away and feeling like I’m self-contained. It’s not unlike the feeling of freedom that comes from getting into a car and leaving town for a long road trip. How exotic to arrive at nightfall to a town where you’ve never been, to eagerly await morning so you can see what lies beyond.

(Interestingly, the night that I arrived in Hue, Vietnam, right after I slid the key into my hotel room door, I was drawn to the bathroom window where four floors below a tennis match was taking place. And the sights to be had the next day! Ah…saved for another post.)



tennis court under my hotel room in hue






Even so, I would not trade where I am this moment for anything else. There is nothing more comforting than sitting in my small writing room, my daughters tucked into bed, Jim making a late snack of the beans and ham hock that I cooked tonight. 

From the moment I leave my family until the moment I return, I think about them. I notice other children, kids in transit. I smile at fussy babies on the plane. On this trip I even offered to the young parents behind me on the flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong that if they needed someone to hold their infant son, I’d be glad to help. They never did take me up on my offer.

Tonight, when I can place everyone I love in relation to myself, I’m content. I am home.



good morning san francisco






-Related to post Reflections Of A Stay-Away-From-Home Mother

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