I went to bed last night exhausted and deflated in that perfect way that a full weekend can leave you. I wish I had another day to recover from this past week, but Monday waits for no one, and my alarm felt even earlier than usual today.
I took half a day off last week to chaperone a kindergarten field trip with Jude. Apparently there’s a small wildlife preserve and zoo nearby that I hadn’t even heard of until the permission slip made its way home. I couldn’t believe a few northbound, winding roads lead me to lions and alligators and white tigers and all sorts of unique creatures to look at.
It was far smaller and less crowded than a city zoo, and the walking trails were leisurely – even with the madness of a group of school kids. It was so rewarding to watch him play and interact with his classmates as they laughed in disbelief at how close they came to some of the animals. The unusual cool snap was weird for Georgia May, but its short-lived timing made for a fun day.
It was close to 9pm when I got home from our graduation ceremony on Friday night. That event usually brings relief as it always signifies the end of the academic year, but somehow I’m not really slowing down yet. Assessment tasks lie ahead and a few committee meetings, and I’m realizing that my calendar doesn’t really slow down until the kids’ lives reach a slower pace. To be honest, I am counting down the days (18 to be exact) until we are officially on break.
Saturday morning brought a birthday party for Norah’s classmate at what is unarguably her favorite place on earth. She was in heaven.
I’d already promised her a trip there and a new doll for her own birthday before this invitation came, so this made for a lucky chance to celebrate a little friend and also get Norah’s gift as we left. She wanted a boy baby this time, and she named him Daniel.
It makes me laugh to see how much she loves this place, but I admit there is something so weirdly charming about it. Maybe it’s the memories from my own childhood summer trips there with my sister and cousins. Or that very particular powdery smell on a Cabbage Patch Doll. Maybe it’s the feel of the space on the side of the road growing wider and wider as you drive northward toward the mountains and find it perched on a hill around absolutely nothing else.
Whatever the case, it might as well be Disney World to her. It’s just as special seeing it through her eyes as it was to me as a child. We drove home tired and happy, and I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon planting flowers and herbs in containers on my back patio. Summer is almost here.
Sunday brought Mother’s Day which – as all the holidays go – was not so hard this year at all. The “firsts” are over, and here we go again. I don’t care in the least about the gifts or lack thereof, especially at this stage of life with such young kids. (I’m certain gifts were never at the top of my love languages anyhow.) We settled in for a picnic at the lake which is exactly what I wanted. Just time with the three of us doing something that felt special.
This spot never feels ordinary, but we haven’t been since last July, so it felt especially good to spend a few hours there yesterday. An inauguration of long summer days to come.
I feel incredibly lucky about so many things in my life, and where I live is pretty close to the top of the list. We are an hour’s drive from the mountains and minutes from the lake, and the longer we are here, the more we discover sweet spots hidden here and there.
I have a lot of love for my home state, and we are fairly close to where I grew up, but this particular space is all ours with sights that are becoming more comfortable and familiar with every passing month. I’m watching the two of them develop roots here and know places by name, and it feels good to see their budding familiarity. There’s a lot of freedom that comes with belonging.
We left the lake sandy and sleepy and stopped for boiled peanuts on the way home. A couple hours later, we headed to my grandparents’ place to celebrate Mother’s Day with family. You can create a sense of home anywhere in the world; I’m sure of that. But there is something to be said for watching your own kids grow up among the same familiar landscape you did. They played outside with their cousins for hours, and we got home just in time for bed.
Jude awoke with a night terror last night around 11. He’s done this three or four times in the past few weeks, and it’s scary to witness. He shakes all over and cries and mumbles nonsense, and though his eyes are open, he’s not really awake. The shaking was so terrible last night that I turned on a light and got him water to drink, hoping he’d snap out of it and settle back down. (And of course now I’m reading today that you aren’t really supposed to do that, but it’s better to just be there so they don’t get hurt and try to guide them back to bed.)
He has no idea where he is when this is happening – mostly because he is not awake at all but still in a state of deep sleep. I know I’ve felt that panic on a much lesser scale at moments in my past when I felt like I wasn’t quite sure where I was, figuratively speaking. But our feet are on solid ground now with familiar spaces and sights but also familiar routines that belong to the three of us. There’s so much space to be found in belonging somewhere. The circle we know can somehow give us the strength and permission to reach outside of it to something bigger and brighter.