Only Love

It’s not yet 7am, and you’re behind the wheel of the Toyota, coming out of a curve on a pot-holed, back road. Your road. The one you drive every morning at this time, your 12-year-old in the passenger seat beside you.

There’s more light in May, and the lifting sun’s rays now shine through the windows on your arms. The interior is quiet, but for the playlist shuffling on the stereo, soft but audible. You are both still waking up, each following the thoughts that stir and stretch.

You reflect on recent news. An acquaintance, not an intimate friend, but someone you’d known for years. You’d both seen Bruce Cockburn in concert. He’d turned you on to Patty Griffin. He’d moved from your small town many years ago, but sometimes your paths would cross during one of his return visits. Last time you saw him he gave you one of his own self-produced CDs. He asked, like always, “So, how old’s Jeb now?”

You’d say the age, your hands gesturing height in relation to your body. You’d both nod heads, affirming, “I know…time goes quickly.”

But he knew better than you. Two grown children in their twenties. He was long past pre-teen years.

You just learned he’s gone. You’d never known he had cancer. Never heard he passed away. That was two months ago. Was he even 50?

These are your early morning sunshine thoughts, as you drive your boy to the bus stop. Ben Howard’s “Only Love” is on the radio. The song is “our song” for you and your husband. And in this moment, this song is “the song” for the Now.

Your heart is flushed to bittersweet, full-capacity, as you click on the blinker for a right-hand turn at the stop sign. All of this is all there is, and all of this – you’re learning – will vanish.

You love your son. So deeply, you cannot touch the depths.
Does it matter if he does his homework?
These days will change, and you realize that you do not even know what this means.
How did you become this 42-year-old mother driving down a rural, island road?
You hope that you’ll remember these beautiful early rays making gold on shimmering tree tops, when you get home to a sink full of dirty dishes.

You feel the All of Everything welling up to fill your eyes. You reach over and pat the knee of your growing boy. He sees you. Squirms in his seat with your nostalgia. Knows you have these moments sometimes.

Ever so soft through the speakers, Ben Howard sings, “Darling you’re with me, always around me…Only love, only love…”

Driving with your son, your boy, in this moment, you feel only love. And that one-and-only, well, he can barely sit with it. He smiles, sheepishly, glancing at the radio dial with a respectful request.

“Mom, can we turn it down a little?”

2016-05-09_jeb sunlight


The Training Wheels Are Off

He’s pulling loose baby teeth out of his head with his own hands. The tooth fairy seems a mere afterthought, though the potential cash is still appealing. He points to his pillow, looks me directly in the eye, smiles and says, “I’m going to put my tooth right here, Mom.”

It’s June and Jeb’s wrapped up fourth grade. Summer’s on. I’d say he’s changed, but that would imply something that is static and complete. No, this here thing we’re doing has just begun, I suspect, and it’s all forward motion. Jeb is changing.

He and a friend fish down at the pond on their own. They ride bikes to the general store, no adult. Jeb’s doing back flips into the swimming pool, “Hey, Mom, watch this!” And I’ll nod approval (inwardly cringing) trying to sound nonchalant as I offer the reminder to push “waaay off” from the edge (already done without my prompting, but hey, I’m a Mom, this is what I do). Or is it?

Jeb’s had a decade of life lessons and my doting eyes. Seems he’s getting the hang of this Planet Earth deal. The foundation has been laid. The basics set in place. My Momness needs to take new form.

As his sphere broadens, I’m being asked to hang back (just a little). He’s learning from the world now, finding his place within it. Exploring beyond the bounds of the familiar lap of the Mother. This is a good thing. This has been the point of these last ten years of training.

Anything can happen. A Mother’s mind knows all this. So it’s a delicate balance. I’m being asked to grow up, too.

Let go, but still watch. Step to the side, but stay just close enough. Know when it’s okay to let him crash and burn (just not too hard).

I realize that this is the first time at this for both of us. It’s all one big experiment, as we navigate through this mother-child process. Ten years ago, we were one body, birthed to two. Over the years, we have been slowly, morphing, growing and stretching into our own individual spaces. One day, we will have separated to the point of no longer even sleeping in the same house.

We’ve got some time for that one, yet. For now, I’m still digesting the fact that Jeb’s feet are bigger than mine. Savoring that he still wants to hug and kiss me. Though yesterday I noticed when he sidled up beside me, we were nearly face to face. His kiss to my cheek, no tip-toes necessary. His voice so matter-of-fact. Mature.

“I love you, Mom.”

photo courtesy of Kimberley McCready
photo courtesy of Kimberley McCready

At the Potter’s Wheel

I’ve been thinking about the potter’s wheel. How so much depends on the careful balance of speed and applied pressure.

Too slow on the foot pedal, you’ve got wobble. Too fast, you’re out of control.

We each exist on this wheel of sorts. Spinning through space on an earthen sphere, we subsist in the mysterious still point of perfected gravity. At this very moment, we are whirling about at such speed, moving through our days, molding and shaping our lives.

These events, the infinite details, they unfold as soon-to-be memories. Seven billion lives evolving, each a potter’s respiring creation.

We are crafters, mastering a work in progress. We play with the elements, adding liquid to solid in measured doses. We test velocity, adjusting the speed of our wheel.

We are seated at the messy helm. Hands in deep, slippery, and full of gooey matter. This is the real. This is the good. This is the stuff. Beautiful and wild. Full of a nothing that can spin into something. Anything.

What are you creating?

photo courtesy of Melissa Bridgman
photo courtesy of Melissa Bridgman