Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Upon Returning

Today, Max and Lizzie both curled up with me-- one on each leg-- and rocked on the front porch. The air smelled like rain and felt like the after steam of a good bath. Weighty clouds hung lazy in the air as pockets of blue began opening around them.

We were waiting for Noah to return from sailing and stretching the post-nap wake-ups with the rhythm of the chair and the sound of its rocking against the wood boards beneath us.

It was quiet. It was unhurried. It was just enough time for me to listen to both children, their breaths and slight sighs. I noticed the way Max's legs nearly reached the ground as they dangled over mine. I smiled at how Lizzie's hair was indistinguishable from my own. We rocked and we watched the world without a place to go or a thing to do.

And that, my friends, has been our motto these last few weeks.

Where I live, the Fourth of July draws more folks into town than any other time in the year. We have parades and art fairs, huge fireworks and lots of friends from afar in town. It is a non-stop party, for the kids and adults alike, and by around July 7, we all very nearly fall apart.

So we go on stay-cation.

We hunker down, we hang out, we make last minute plans and plenty of trips to the beach. The laundry piles up and then dwindles down. The dishes get done in the morning, maybe. We eat with friends and we let bed time roll around when it seems right-- which sometimes means 7:30 and sometimes borders on 10 p.m.. For me, this deviation from routine can be tricky. I've been known to fret about what it says about my mothering or my ability to stick to the rules.

And then it only takes on evening of flipping through photos from the last few weeks to realize that these are the moments that are defining our lives. Little laughs and late nights, quiet glasses of wine on the porch and noise-filled evenings with friends-- this is the stuff of being, the joy of raising a family.

Just take a look:

These pictures make me realize that my children are so in-tune with stay-cation rhythms. They know when to speed up.

They know when to slow down. Um, okay, that might be a stretch.

They know when to go wild (as in, bumper cars a-la cozy coupe action)

and when to hang out with a board game or a book.

Nothing stands in the way of them living in the moment and they remind me of the bliss that comes with doing the same.

It makes you smile, doesn't it? It makes me celebrate the choices we make, big and small, that allow us to live in this place. It makes me look forward to what tomorrow will bring-- but more importantly-- it makes me soak in right now (soaked is a very literal term, as I've just returned from dinner via a friend's boat and am truly sopping wet. to. the. core. Presently am ringing out my ponytail. Thank you, Lake Michigan).


boatbaby said...

Enjoy! I just spent a couple of weeks back home on Lake Michigan as well.
I was thinking about your son's new flame for sailing and if you haven't already seen it, rent the movie/ documentary Morning Light for him.
He'll love it!

Joy said...

Stay-cations are a wonderful summer pastime. We'll be having one of those next week, actually! I'm glad you had a great 4th and a relaxing time following. :)

Kat said...

Now that is what summer is all about. I love it!
And can I just tell you how much I love the matching skirts??? SO CUTE!!!!

Brooke G. said...

Great post and cute pics. I especially love the ones of Lizzie. She is so darn precious! The whole week sounds refreshing, although I do understand your relunctance to let down your guard for a week or so. Kids (well, my kids at least) tend to go a little haywire when we toss the "routine" out the window.

Justin Bassett said...

you are such a gifted writer, i can never get enough of your words. thanks for being an incredible mother to our children, a wonderful wife and the best friend i could ask for. The best part of summer is sharing it with you and seeing how you are with the kids!!

Playground Observer said...

Your photos are beautiful, it looks like you are having a perfect summer!

Playground Observer said...

P.S- The matching skirts are just about the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

Wendy said...

hello. skip renker passed your blog to me and said perhaps we would have some things in common. this was a few months ago and after much shy procrastination, here i am.

(i was wondering if you know of any midwives in this great northwest michigan area?)

Kate said...

Hi Wendy! I may know of some midwives-- depending on where in the northwest you are-- there is someone based out of TC that is very highly regarded. In Petoskey, the last practice that used midwives stopped doing so this year (AWFUL!) but one of our local midwives has been in talks with a naturopath to possibly begin working again...Feel free to email me: and we can "talk" more...

patsyrose said...

Your words touch my heart and your pictures make me laugh out loud with pleasure. What a gift you have!

Sus said...

aw, Kate, salute yourself that you are doing this mothering thing Just Right, recognizing the holiness of the quotidian. (BTW, have you read Kathleen Norris' Quotidian Mysteries about that very thing? It's been recommended to me recently and sounds right up your/our alley.) Isn't it wonderful how good kids are at blooming where they're planted. That's why we have them, right? To remember that. Among other things.

PS. Things I love: your matching skirts. the picture of rapturously happy Lizzie. Justin's comment. Board games. Rocking, entwined.

Have you read Middle Place yet? She talks about a picture of her and her mother when she was 8 or 10, lounging on her mom as if she owned her - you know how children do. She says how they don't touch much anymore, but how nice it is to know that they were once entwined, physically.

Rebekah said...

Oh, I look for your post updates almost daily and when they are here, they always make me smile. They also make me want to bolt out of the office, snatch my daughter from whoever has her and cuddle her, take pictures of her and just love the heck out of her. Thanks for continuing to post.

gardenmama said...

What a lovely post! Your sentiments, photos and writing is beautiful : )
And what a sweet little fairy girl in your photo!!