Thursday, June 3, 2010

From where I sit

You don’t know that you don’t know. Simplicity. You know you don’t know. Doubt. You know you know. Belief. You don’t know that you know. Trust.

From where I sit I see four children running amok in the yard. All together they are - sometimes messy and randomly cumbersome and frequently entertaining too. The care and feeding of all these children falls in my hands, and my mates too, but I can’t see the view from his chair. It is his. Like the time we looked out the very same window from two different angles. One saw winter. One saw spring. So it is.

From where I sit I see one 12 year old girl who teeters on the edge of childhood and maturity. She dangles one leg on each side of the proverbial fence. She hops off on occasion, running to one or the other, building fairy houses in a rotten stump. Constructing forts in the crook of a tree. Playing house or school or calico critters for hours on end. The next day, or minute even, she leaps over the rail and lands directly in the exploration of her future self. Playing with style and attitude and words and big, giant, adult-sized emotions - trying to familiarize herself with, herself.

From where I sit, squarely in the seat of middle age, I remember my own twelve-ness. If I close my eyes it was yesterday that I stood where she now stands. My mantra has become, out of necessity and so as not to addle her with my unfinished adolescence: I am me and she is she. I am me and she is she. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I am me and she is she. It is and needs to be my constant verse. If I close my eyes it was yesterday too that this twelve year old came to us in all her newborn-ness, with this brave new world unfolding before us. When she arrived we became. Family.

She makes her own way out there now. Sometimes. Has her own relationships that are not mine, and has a way about her that is hers and hers alone. From where I sit I can focus on all the mistakes we made or the things we didn’t do or the lessons we didn’t know how to teach or even knew needed teaching. Or we can focus on the here and the now and be glad for all that is.

When I go down the rabbit hole of regret I remind myself that she came to us. She knew where she was going. She knew what she was getting herself into. She was our first. Our test. Our only only. Never been here before nor knew where we were headed. She was and will always be our not knowing we didn’t know plain and simple.

I see 8 ten year-old boys playing Lord of the Flies Cirque de Soleil on the fourteen foot high steel playground slide now equipped with rope ladders dangling and swings too of various handmade varieties. These boys climb and slide and push and wrestle and monkey their way around each other and around this world of theirs. From an upstairs window I check their faces to make sure their fighting is for fun and frolic. I can see when it makes the shift. And I hesitate. I want them to know it too and learn what to do. But sometimes they need a hand not going too deep. I call out, “PAUSE”.

They are dirty and sweaty and happy as happy can be to be out here, in the fresh air, with the fire going, and the rules abandoned, for a day at least, being that it’s a party and all. I want to abandon the rules more and the only way to do that is to leave them to their own devices. Not looking. Not taking advantage of my view from the second floor. I see my own freckled boy in the fray and I watch him being remarkably ten. Body, mind and spirit.

From where I sit I wonder if we’ve done what we could with this lad of ours. Letting him feel the feelings that seem bigger than any I have known. When he was younger and these emotions were new, I made him a ten pound blanket, to lay on him like a lead apron. When it fell upon him, he melted and was glad for the reprieve. Watching him, I melted too.

His feelings are enormous. His anger roars. His silliness crosses lines drawn and seems spastic looking in. His sadness sinks with its heaviness. His moving body is strong and requires so. Much. space. All of what he feels he wears on his sleeve. The learning curve of him is a wide and expansive arc. We study him. And long to know what to do, sometimes doubting our ability. He is our knowing that we don’t know.

From where I sit I see a magical seven. A child born of fairy of that we are fairly certain. With her green eyes and elfin ears and delicate frame we are sure she is a changling, delivered to us in exchange for our human baby. She is enchanting with her incessant creativity and ability to fall deep into lands of her own imaginings.

From here I can just watch her, not parent her as much as just be here - to guide her on her path. She eats like a bird and moves like a ballerina on acid – twirling, leaping, spinning and jumping. Sometimes screaming uncontrollably at the end of it all. She is drawn to big crowds, stunning things, wild patterns, vivid colors, and drinks them all in like water. Yet still they wear her out.

From where I sit I hear crazy laughter. Excited screams. And even cries of protest. I hear her pleading for help changing her clothes, brushing her teeth or carrying her body out from bed to table. She lives in an ethereal world. My ethereal girl. And the mundane bodily tasks, like eating, seem a waste of good power.

From where I sit I watch her entertain an individual or a crowd with her willingness and desire to be seen. To sing out of tune. To play the games. And when they ask for a volunteer from the audience, her hand shoots up like lightning. She is sometimes loud. And sometimes crazily quiet too. She is attractive. And a tiny force to be reckoned with. We trust that we know we know. Belief.

From where I sit I see one small three year old boy. He is at once scatological and deeply profound. I see him slowly explore every bug, bird and blade of grass on the trail. And then name them all too with a solid and easy knowing. His intense passion requires that I hop off this seat of mine and join him in his paces of inquiry and intuition. When I resist it is a struggle. Acquiesce and all is well, for all of us, most of the time. He requires lots of food and space and energy both of body and mind. We drink in all of his phases. Whether we like it or not. Like his fetish for bending ears. Literally. Grabbing them with his tiny hands and bending, folding and mutilating them for comfort. Any ear in a storm.

We do not rush this boy through his paces rather we let him bring us where we need to be. He has shortened our commutes and shifted our priorities and created movements that we never knew about nor dreamed of. He has brought us all home, this wee boy born right here in this home with the five of us all serving as witness.

He is the tipping point. He is the strange and quiet comfort of not knowing that we know. Trust.

Far away I see one 85 year-old mother who delivered me here to this earth 45 years ago. Before that, a mother who delivered her and another and another. As far back as the eye can see and then some. Knowing. Not knowing. Doubting. Questioning. Believing. As it is now and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.


  1. This was so beautifully written. I'm almost speechless!


  2. I'd comment but I am too busy crying.

  3. You've summed up the power of being mother as witness to wonder.

  4. I hadn't read this post before...and amazed that I found it TODAY when I needed it so badly..."I am me and she is she"...thank you.

  5. So beautiful. Ditto to all previous comments. Brava! Thank you for capturing this beautiful day.