The Long Haul

After work, it’s too dark to go running, and I’m home in a foul mood while my daughters cook dinner. While cleaning out a closet that afternoon, they discovered a box of photographs and claimed the photos were evidence there was little adult supervision in their early childhood.

I insist there was plenty, but I had always seen wildness as more of a virtue than a vice.

The three of us are wise enough to let that lie, and dinner conversation winds into the details of the day. After, the girls wash the dishes and I carry in firewood. Then my oldest and I walk through town. There’s no one out these days. It’s dark; the cold is beginning to staple down around us.

Coming home, we stand on the knoll outside our house, watching the creamy, waning moon rise. As we stand there talking about hard deep things — how we carry the past around with us — I remember myself as a brand-new mother, believing that the wildness of imagination shapes our lives. I no longer believe that; I know that, but I also know what a long hard haul this life can be.

I call into the house for my youngest to come out and see the moon. She walks barefoot through the snow. We stand there, the moonlight on our faces, soaking up that ethereal light, before we head back in.

Worn Cleats

Feeding the wood stove before bed, my eyes catch on my daughter’s duct-taped cleats drying beside the wood stove.

Two decades ago, I first became a mother to this girl’s older sister, and an accompanying stream of beloved things have passed through our lives, too.

Beloved Sleepy Bunny — now worn threadbare — colored stacking cups, babydolls, a teddy bear my youngest clutched on her lap as we drove around the Southwest the summer I removed my wedding ring and threw it into the desert. When she was three, this girl draped over a blue swing in the front yard apple tree on her belly and dug her toes in the dirt, dreaming.

Now, she’s 15, teen as teen gets. I study that silent sign of what’s beloved to this girl. Then I turn out the light and go upstairs to read.