Thirty, wordy, and thriving
What happened to February at the farm?
And why did my blog suddenly become password-protected then? The short answer is evident if you read my last blog post and do the math: I got pregnant. The weekend time I used to allot to writing quickly got eaten up by naps once the first-trimester fatigue set in.
The longer answer is: Things got complicated. Daycare became unreliable because of COVID outbreaks, I had less time to work so I was making less money to justify the cost of daycare, California was expensive, and we realized we would need more money with a second child. So, in short, we had to change everything. And that took time.
Fast-forward nine months and Daniel left academia, we bought a home in the midwest, and I'm at home indefinitely for maternity leave with two children. For nine months, I had neither the time nor the energy to write anything longer than a photo caption. But now as the leaves are changing, time is finally starting to slow down again. In honor of my thirtieth birthday this week (30!), I've collected the captions that hold the strongest weight, memories, and emotion. And here they are:
Growth is uncomfortable at any age
I used to believe in the American dream.
I thought one day I would have two kids and a house with a white picket fence
And a garden that would grow from magic seeds dropped by fairies
Into the earth that would sprout in the spring
And stay alive drinking pixie dust and rainwater alone.
They told me I was wrong.
Fairies don’t exist.
Love doesn’t exist.
Dreams are for children with their heads in the clouds.
Flowers die if you don’t have water.
So I buried my dreams in a box
And never looked back.
Until I had a daughter.
They tell her fairies are real
Only to one day crush her heart.
They tell her money is real,
Ivy League daycare is real,
Computer coding for babies is real.
They tell her crying is wrong —
They’ll think you’re soft.
I say sometimes it’s okay to be soft and sweet inside
To sing to the flowers
To howl at the moon
To dance in the rain
To laugh as the sunlight kisses your skin
To take your dreams out of the box
And reclaim magic as your own.
Eira’s second eye surgery
As a child, my biggest fear was that someday I’d somehow wake up blind.
My mind swam in panic thinking of the storm clouds that would inevitably roll across my eyes.
My fear was ungrounded, they told me.
You have no reason to be scared, they said.
But they couldn’t feel what I felt inside.
As fate would have it, Eira was born with cataracts in both eyes.
My gut reaction was shock.
A knot in my stomach that nearly made me double down in heartache.
My fear slowly grew into strength as I saw losing your sight is scary, yes –
But maybe there was beauty in darkness.
My baby may not have been able to meet my gaze or follow the moons on her mobile. But she could still coo over my scent and grasp my finger with those tiny, delicate hands.
My toddler may stumble, fall, and cry tears of frustration without her contact lenses. But she can still dance (ungracefully) and smile wildly to her favorite nursery rhymes.
But those eyes when they work!
And that smile when she watches the horses’ kisses!
And that face when she sees us after a day of painting and sliding at daycare!
It still bewilders me to think if she were born in another age, she would have grown up without vision.
Instead, she’s braved two surgeries before the age of two and can see flowers, chase butterflies, and shield her eyes from the sun like any other child.
So if I could go back to my 8-year-old self, I would place my hand on her shoulder and whisper in her ear:
“Fear is something of divine intuition.
But modern medicine is something of a miracle.
And love is fierce and can guide us through the darkest times.” ∞
Things are changing
Let my braid loose,
Wore red lipstick under my mask,
Ordered some sweet whiskey syrup in my latte,
And chased a butterfly into the sun.
Even in California,
The cold sets in when the sun sets,
The winter frost shocks your soul,
And the birds hide away in their coop,
Waiting for warmth.
Bandaids don’t fix bullet holes,
Words don’t heal world wars.
Wildflowers don’t stay bright beyond the spring,
If you close your eyes, they’re gone.
Growth isn’t just for children,
Even roots evolve.
Realizing what I have is all I need,
And home is where you make it.
Embracing the parts of myself I feared,
Learning to let go with grace,
Watching the roses bloom,
And becoming who I was meant to be.
6 am at Emerald Hills
Today, I saw the sunrise through a candlelit window
And walked through streets I knew only by tree names before the world was awake.
Birch, Myrtle, Oak, Redwood, leading me to Canyon
Where there were cyclists and humans with dogs who also knew this to be the most sacred hour of the day – or of a lifetime for that matter
And as the roastery opened its doors to the neighborhood faces who made its storefront a weekend religion,
I could smell the coffee as it buzzed eager through my veins, grounding the high from a sleepless night
I held on tight to my flat white as if it were the sole taste that could bring me to remember
That I, a mother, so vanilla, a boring ADULT, could still live an adventure so sweet it could hardly be put to words.
So I sat in the morning sun, chewing words, raw and sweet,
And with a soft smile, barely perceptible to the strangers at the cafe,
I loosened the grip on my paper cup.
Sitting in the tomato vines
Plastic star lights encircle our bodies
We bow to an altar of tree anemone, porcelain birds, and red clay handmade frogs
A painted giraffe gently smiles from the doorway,
A garland of daisies encircling her head.
You’re busying yourself with your tiny fingers an inch deep in the earth
The morning sunlight streams in like the fireflies of summer night,
Warming the greenhouse wood
My mind turns to canvas
And opens to words like watercolor
That paint the day pink.
And you’ll say I should have loved that girl more
Is this real life — this forgotten land of ice cream and apple juice,
Where happiness can be turned on like sprinklers in sunshine?
Caught somewhere between the real world and make-believe,
I sometimes find myself in this fairytale land
Where the daylight sparkles,
Toy dogs dance,
And flower crowns are always appropriate headwear.
Where world wars dissolve with naptime,
Money exists only to sell plastic cupcakes,
And roses bloom even in the wintertime.
Here, I can dream in color,
Drink hot coffee with a straw,
And wish for impossible things on dandelions.
There are days when the hardest choice we have to make is “chocolate or vanilla?”
(Or “strawberry or banana?”)
For me, it’s always the same.
Chocolate cake with cherries forever, please.
I used to fear being a mother.
Now, although the realization still scares me,
I think I can do this every day.
No one believed me when I said I was strong for my size
But maybe that’s because I didn’t use to be.
Now in this body that has climbed mountains, run marathons,
Fallen in love, survived heartbreak,
Broken down in tears and danced with elation in front of total strangers,
Made a family out of a pandemic,
Grown and birthed and breastfed a baby and wore her in a sling for days on end, Learned languages and taught my daughter her first word,
Traveled the world alone and saw the country in a car full of cats and a dog, Moved from the Midwest to coast to coast, from small town to city to country, And dug my hands deep in the dirt to plant new seeds,
I feel myself growing still.
Thirty, wordy, and thriving
29, you tested me in so many ways
2 ER trips for sick kids
2 times on steroids when my body swelled up from poison oak
2 coyotes I literally ran into in the woods
5 chickens that one by one fell prey to the many wild animals
Weeks on end when daycare shut down in the pandemic
Then finally, 1 time sick with COVID
And all my days in Oslo spent in isolation
5 births I witnessed
And who would have guessed the scariest of those pregnancies would have been my own?
The frustration of potty training and weaning and not having hands because I’m incessantly breastfeeding — and all 3 happening at the same time
The measly half-pound snowpea gained in 6 months that made the doctor decide she had “failed to thrive”
The many hours of sleep I lost wondering how she could still be so teeny
And those three words: “failure to thrive”!
They really did capture our time in California.
But 29, you were also so, so good to me!
I never would have dreamed I could feel so much
For my two children
For our home
For this city, so quickly growing on me
For 3 horses and the Californian wildflowers
For the clear water of Tahoe
For the deep brown coffee in Bergen
For the English pastures and the pink village roses
For the moment my daughter finally met my grandad
When he gave her a teddy bear and tried to hold her hand
When she twirled around his flowerbeds and got stuck in the brambles of his secret garden.
For my brief but passionate love affair with LA and all its eccentricities
For the Left Coast and the sunset on the beach in San Diego where Blue ran like wild through the warm sand
For the sunshine after the desert storm in Arizona that nearly broke us down
For the spice of homemade cooking that stays on your tongue all day in El Paso
For my grandparents’ porch swing in Kansas
And the selfies I took in the sunflowers.
For the wooden bridge and the leaves and the old magnifying glass snowpea looked through in my hometown
For the wild daisies that grew near my grandmother’s grave in England
For the store-bought daisies I placed on my best friend’s grave in Illinois
For the swans in my lattes — and how they are always an omen!
For the whole 2 pounds snowpea gained in the month after we moved away from California
For the giddy feeling inside when my second baby was born surrounded by soft words and tea lights
For snowpea in her tutu and the realization THIS was what my 2-year-old self meant all along when said I wanted to be a mommy ballerina someday
For the knowledge that this is the hardest, messiest job I could possibly have but the feeling in my bones that this is what I’m meant to do.
For the many times I have dreamed of taking my two babies to Paris and walking to the river to picnic on macarons and fresh baguette
For last night, when we all sat on the floor with our tea party of chocolate cake and my sparkling wine and Peter Rabbit and for that feeling — however fleeting — that this right here is enough.