Make a Wish, and Start Again

First we drove over to “Dada’s House”
the house we all experience as home, to get the shoes
Aviva had refused to wear when I picked her up after work today
Grumpy,  threatening never to speak to me again in a million years
if we didn’t go to Zachary’s for dinner
a risk I was willing to weather, newly resolved
to reclaim our few hours in the evenings
disturbed at the disconnect, iCarly episodes eroding my confidence
as a parent, longing for more time
playing, connecting, simply being together
eating hot dogs and cantaloupe
at the dining room table

So I kept my promise though it was after eight
scampering up the crooked wooden stairs at the top of the block
Jack and Annie-style explorers back by the quarry
treetops brightened by orange light
I was proudly wearing the Award Aviva had taped on my fleece–
“To Jena, for Being You

Aviva took off her crocks–
I have to toughen up my feet for the summer
and held my hand as we walked through leafy backyards
joking about people in their bathrobes, or bathrooms
looking for the path that hugs the bushes our neighbor advised us to follow
How can it hug the bushes? Pearl inquired from a few paces behind
Mama, you are glowing
Aviva reaching up to frame my face in the sunset

Then we spotted the way
marveled through a swampy passage Pearl thought was spooky
Next time, we agreed, we’d remember to bring our frog net
Moments later, a magical, tucked-away yard–
lilacs, chickens, chairs made of branches, flowering grapevines
Can we live here?
A woman came out from the back door of the house and said hello
We introduced ourselves and lingered a while in that secret garden
then continued walking toward the top of the street two over from ours
the ancient rock face on our right
the lake glistening below

Aviva crab-walked and rolled her way down the steep hill
while Pearl admired a boy on his devil board
We met a friendly orange cat and chose which of the cottage-like houses
we might like to inhabit
Unhurried, wandering through the quiet neighborhood
I spoke openly with them about the different scenarios before us
not knowing yet where we will live
but confident, as a friend reminded me today,
that home has to be where the heart is

In the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot
they ran to see if the doors were really locked
Aviva lay down on the pavement, listening hungrily
as I described what might happen
if we really just left her there for the night
Pearl found some broken glass, convincing Aviva to put on her shoes
Toughening up is one thing, gashing wounds another

We rounded the way home
ate ice cream and chocolate-covered sunflower seeds
Aviva busy with the Keri Smith book I got for her at JFK
that she had hated just a few hours earlier
Pearl showed me she had finished coloring in the Stars Wars character
I’d never heard of
then climbed into bed to read about Waddlers who want to fly
and poop from the high skies above

Aviva bounded into the room and turned on the overhead light
just as Pearl was beginning to snore
to show us the secret notes she’d written,
one for me–From Aviva Strong, To Jena Strong, I luv you
This, from the child I sometimes fear
I’m failing

And wouldn’t you know
there was a conspicuous absence of protest
not a single plea for the usual Movie Time
Instead I heard Please and Thank You, Mama and Monkeydoodle
(after burping) and
Can we do that every night?
Aviva’s last question as she curled up
next to me, after I had closed my eyes instead of freaking out
that her light was still on and it was WAY PAST HER BEDTIME

Yes, let’s
, I replied
the three of us soon fast asleep
One breath, the very Meaning of Life never clearer

You can make a wish, and start again

Posted in: Uncategorized

6 thoughts on “Make a Wish, and Start Again

  1. Robin says:

    This so reminds me of a zillion nights with my own kids. Almost every night after dinner, we took a walk around the block (which sometimes ended up being lots of blocks when they got older) to “settle our dinner.” We looked at plants, petted cats, squatted down and poked at stuff, kept a lookout for our favorite phases of the moon – all very ordinary.

    Now that they are big kids in their early 20s, Josh and Katie marvel that their friends and classmates don’t know the names of plants, never scratched at the dirt with sticks, never cajoled a strange cat to come and play, don’t have an opinion on which moon is “best.” They figured everyone did what we did!

    Looking into the future – working, struggling, forever trying to get Point A to stand still long enough to line up with Point B – I never would have guessed that this would have been the fantastic outcome of all those simple walks. Believe me: Pearl and Aviva will remember!

    Like

  2. GailNHB says:

    Yes, indeed. I too am making wishes. Starting over. And over. And over.
    And toughening my feet/heart/voice too.
    I laugh at myself because I’m so not tough. Why do I keep trying?

    Those girls are so blessed to have you as their mom. Ice cream, chocolate, notes, stories, books, snuggling, and a Dunkin Donuts run – all in the same night???
    Nope, no chance that you are failing them. Or yourself. Or us.

    Sleep well, sweet Jena. Sleep well.

    Like

  3. Stacy @ Sweet Sky says:

    Sometimes I really believe that, about starting over. And sometimes I don’t. I notice that, the not believing, until it comes around again.

    And this cracked me up: “the Stars Wars character I’d never heard of” — tell me about it! Who are all these whacky creatures that came after…. er, before?

    Like

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