Separate Travels

When I was a new parent, I mistakenly searched for our family life to even out. Oh, so this is what being a mother is like —  as if our family would steady into evenness. Maybe family life does work that way for some people, but I doubt it. Our life kept changing, because the infants grew into round-kneed babies, who grew into curious toddlers, then little girls who made houses from blankets, and teenagers who rode bikes and shared secrets with friends. Because the very heart of life is change.

And yet, we’re still us, who like to play card games and take walks at night. My daughters are on a trip to the southwest, the two of them on cusps in their own lives, one beginning young womanhood, the other her adolescent years. In the intensity of young motherhood, I never imagined our lives would not so much diverge but widen.

Someone asked my younger daughter if she was afraid to go so far alone. She answered, I’m not alone. I’m with my sister. 

Here’s a (perhaps unrelated) few lines from Tod Olson’s terrific kid’s book, Lost in the Amazon:

Even the naturalists, who spent years studying the plants and animals of the Amazon, never understood the jungle as well as the men who paddled their boats. Richard Spence, the Englishman who marveled at the size of the rainforest, once overhead a native man talking about him behind his back. “This man knows nothing,” he scoffed. “I doubt he can even shoot a bird with an arrow.”

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Burlington, Vermont