On our back deck yesterday, my 19-year-old and I talk about the crickets, how their songs are lengthening and yet quieting at the same time, their strength slowly leaking away with summer.
The sunflowers are high in our garden.
This summer has been one of the daughters coming and going, and myself mostly staying put. The younger daughter’s suitcase is packed again, as she happily heads to Maine with friends. The older daughter has been working mixed-up nursing home shifts — most recently the graveyard hours. Her bags are packed, too, as she anticipates returning to college.
We’re busy, sure, but not that busy. In the midst of all this, we cook dinner together when we’re all home, and in these long dusky evenings, we go for walks.
Last night, we were in the town’s community gardens, taking photographs in the pink-leaved echinacea. I remembered that very first year I was a mother, and I kept trying to grab some stability — Oh, this is what being a mother is like. This is how our life will go. But my baby kept changing. She slept, or she didn’t sleep. She crawled, and then she ran. She babbled. Sometimes, she cried fiercely. She was radiant and fierce and deeply loving — a babyhood version of who she is as a young woman.
But she grew and changed all the time, which is — and I really don’t know why this came as such a shock to me — the essence of this earthly life. But the deep down elements of our lives haven’t altered: her eyes are the same curious, merry upside-down crescent moons I first saw on the night she was born.
All this, I suppose, means that I intend to swim in the nearby pond as long as possible. The water is warm yet, and the banks are brilliant with goldenrod.
I had to learn that I was a better mother and wife when I was working than when I was not.
— Madeline L’Engle, Walking On Water