Changes–Not Good, Not Bad

Sunset in January

I had a colleague who, when talking about the stages of growing children, insisted that one stage was not better then the next–just different.

I, as a young mother with my first child, disagreed. I loved the playfulness of 2, the personality of 3, the independence of 4, the self-assertiveness of 5. Then I had my second child and saw the wisdom of her words.

My second child’s milestones feel bittersweet. Crawling means more fidgeting when I hold her for too long. Walking means the end of baby snuggles. Every stage is just different.

I think about 2020 in the same way. We are changed by it. We will be forever changed by it. Not necessarily or wholly good and not necessarily or wholly bad.

Yes, in 2020, we were greeted with death in ways we have never experienced, but I think that has also made us think more about our health and well-being. Financial challenges have made us think hard about how close we are to needing underfunded social programs. Social distancing has put our relationships into perspective. Who are we including in our pod?

We have also had some difficult conversations that we have been avoiding as a nation. We are talking and learning about racism and how we must be anti-racist to dismantle systematic racism. We are examining our broken healthcare system where millions of Americans are un- or underinsured during a pandemic.

We have also been innovative. Companies, schools, industries took steps to address safety and promote sanitized work environments or work from home options. This happened in days or weeks, instead of months or years.

We are looking at our education system and the role it plays in delivering key social services to students and their families. We can see poverty in ways never seen before.

These are rough highlights. I am not sharing anything new. We will be changed by 2020–not good, not bad.

Ice in January

Ice coated branches crash against
the roof of a house where
a baby is sleeping.
a child is playing,
a man is resting, and
I am writing.

The crackle of fallen ice,
twigs and sticks fill
the gap between
crashes so loud I look
at the sleeping babe.

Every crash,
every boom,
every forceful noise
outside this house brings forth
the most terrifying scenes.

In my mind,
one of the timber giants
leans too close to
the roof and
loses its balance.

In my mind,
every ice shard is
large enough
to announce its
hostile entry.

In my mind,
the branches rage
from their ice prisons,
falling fast against
the fortress of home.

The intruder is wood and water
that steals warmth and comfort.

All this while
the candle burns,
the child plays,
and the baby sleeps.

Candle on table in front of window
Candle on table in front of window

Tummy Time

Little baby cries on the floor of our small blue house. Trying to calm the tears of tummy time, I join her on the floor. This does not help and instead she firmly places her face into her mat and screams as if she has been abandoned to the elements and will never see her family again.

Deciding that this is enough, I scoop her up, my hand greeted with tears, spit up, and baby boogies, and place her in my lap. In the safety of her mama’s arms, she lets out a few sneezes and some excited coos as she flexes her fingers over my arm.

Notebook, pen and baby feet

Pumpkin Spice Lattes: A Poem

A picture of a coffee mug that says, "pumpkin spice everything" surrounded by pumpkins

My daughters are pumpkin spice lattes.

October-born with cloves and cinnamon, they fill autumn with change. A new birth, another year older, the anticipated benefits of age–“When I’m five years old–”

Leaves the color of nutmeg and ginger shower their heads as they play in festive canter. They laugh as they gallop around the yard, chasing their youth like squirrels stashing acorns.

Fall in New England is a caffeinated season. Eagerly awaiting frosty celebrations, they sparkle with excitement as they snuggle in warm blankets and drink from warm mugs.