My family and I went exploring during spring break last week and ended up at an ethereal place on Vancouver Island called Fairy Lake. These three trees captured me; I couldn’t look away from them. A well-loved painter and poet around here is Emily Carr. These trees made me think of her.
Look at the earth crowded with growth, new and old bursting from their strong roots hidden in the silent, live ground, each seed according to its own kind…each one knowing what to do, each one demanding its own rights on the earth. So artist, you too from the depths of your soul…let your roots creep forth, gaining strength. (Emily Carr)
This week’s photo challenge asked bloggers to choose a photo that shows “horizon”. I immediately thought of this picture of my daughter, taken on a hot day in early September. We were at the beach close to our house. There were only a few other people there and the tide was out, making the perfect sandbar for the kids to play on. Behind us, my son and husband were net fishing in a warm tide pool. The water was icy, icy cold but my daughter didn’t care. She beelined far out into the ocean, so far that she looked teeny tiny in the vastness of the water. She has no fear yet, my two-year old. I hope she can hang on to her boldness as long as possible. 🙂
I love the way the huge evergreens in our new neighbourhood march down the street, strong, tall and steady as they’ve been for decades. Since my son is in kindergarten now, the pattern of our days has changed. I take advantage of the hilly streets and most days go for a big walk with my daughter on the way home from school drop-off.
It is a luxury to spend this precious one-on-one time with such a darling companion. There’s usually nowhere to rush off to, no need to continually divide my attention among two children. I’m free to release my daughter from her stroller whenever she feels like it, to run and splash and laugh crazily in the perfect puddles left after last evening’s downpour.
My children’s favourite playgrounds aren’t made of metal and hard plastic. They aren’t painted with garish primary colours. They don’t conform to the latest safety regulations. They aren’t surrounded by rings of houses, fences or busy city streets. They don’t have swings or slides or monkey bars. There are no crowds.
My children’s favourite playgrounds have hundred-year-old trees to climb and crawl inside. They are painted with the colours of nature: green and brown, gray and blue, a million different colours. Thousands and thousands of rocks are waiting to be picked up and flung into rivers, lakes and the ocean. Herons, woodpeckers, sea lions, sea otters, crabs, raccoons, squirrels, woodpeckers, ducks and fish pop up at the most surprising moments in the strangest of places.
There are places to hide, places to run free and places to curl up and rest.
The trees stand guard, in the background. Always there and always green, their shadows unmoving as the children dance among them.
There is a mountain behind our house. My children aren’t quite big enough to climb it with us, but in the afternoon the gate opens up so cars can drive almost to the top. Once we park, there are two different trails that head straight up; one to a cement look-out point, the other to some high rocks. A few weeks ago my son and I headed out on a mommy-son day and I took him up the mountain for the first time. Once at the top, he came alive, yelling “This is fantastic! This is amazing!” as we looked way down at the awesome panorama of mountain, ocean, forest and green…always green.
It was a warm, rainy day. The children were restless in the house. They’d played with toys, watched a show on TV, played with Playdoh and eaten countless snacks. They started chasing each other around and around the circle on our main floor and I knew it was time to get outside. After little A’s nap we bundled up in heavy-duty rain coats and headed out.
My daughter loves worms, and calls them “nerms,” which is adorable. When she finds one, she picks it up in her bare hands, runs to me, holds it up and proudly announces “Nerm! Mommy! Nerm!”
Her big brother had the idea to put them in the back of a plastic truck, and a new game was born. Soon, they each had a truck and were racing around our cul-de-sac seeing who could find the biggest worm, the smallest worm, the wiggliest worm, and on and on.
I love giving children the space and time to come up with their own games. It’s tempting to sign them up for more classes to fill our (sometimes long and arduous) days but moments like this make me grateful that I am at home with them for these very short years.
I’m not giving anything up by staying home. I’m gaining so, so much.
For this week’s photo challenge (“Forward“) I chose this picture of my son, taken at our favorite beach a few months ago. We are looking forward a lot lately because we just registered him for kindergarten.
When he starts school, it will mark over 5.5 years that I have been at home with him full-time. Other than a few mornings a week of preschool this year and a few days at a babysitter in the early months after his sister was born, he and I have been joined at the hip since his birth.
It’s funny how as a parent, sometimes you just know. You know when it’s time for something. You know when it’s not time for something.
Had we stayed in Alberta, my son could have been in kindergarten this year because of different birthday cut-off dates. He was so, so not ready for it last September. Suddenly now, in February, he is ready with full force. So am I and I say that with no shame. 🙂
I’m delighted that he paces the halls now, asking, “But what are we DOING today, Momma? Where are we GOING?” Many, many days I’m ready to climb the walls because of his incessant talking, questioning and antagonizing his little sister. On the flip side, it’s so rewarding to see his tangible readiness staring me in the face. Two short years ago he was the clingy, shy little guy peeking around my leg at playgroups. Now he is (almost) ready to run into that school with all he’s got.
I’m glad we still have six months before it begins. He is too. We have a few mornings a week where we don’t have to rush anywhere. We can dump out the Lego box, pile the stuffed animals on the bed and laugh at the antics of my 20 month old daughter.
I don’t get people who say full-time mommas are “giving so much up” to stay home with their children. Five and a half years is a blip in my life. A beautiful, messy, loud, snuggly, sleep-deprived blip. I’ll milk it for all it’s worth.