>> Monday, November 9, 2009

I climb down from the top bunk, placing my foot on each rung, stealing away from the quiet whispers, secrets from the day tucked under hand-me-down quilts and buried under pillows.

He shares his snapshots in these stolen moments. After the Goodnights, the Go to sleeps; before lids fall heavy. After X marks the spot (with a dot, dot, dot) and before the chest rises and falls to the steady rhythm of dreams.

He tells me his stories. What he pulls from his day, the truth that he gleans is only a shadow and it’s all I have. How would it measure against the color image? Would I recognize the day from his telling? The unfolding appears differently than it would to my eye. I wonder which silhouettes the other children take home, projecting them against quiet walls in dark bedrooms, lit dimly by the glow cast through a door ajar?

I’m grateful for these whispers, the songs sung in hushed tones, the inaudible prayers uttered from barely moving lips, heard only by the ears to which they were intended.

The nights are work. I bend over water, washing them clean; over naked skin, diapering, dressing them fresh and swaddling secure. We dim lights, sing lullabies, and pace with cradled arms. They call out – with thirst, for warmth, a craving for affection; the prolonged delay of my coming lost on them as I shift the baby to my hip, offering a cup, a hand, a touch. I’m coming. Another minute, and I’m coming.

I bend again, deeper, and the baby finally rests, slumbering safely in his crib; and I straighten and turn, finally returning as promised. One breathes the telltale rhythm, burrowed into pillows and under blankets, having lost the battle in wait, in vain. I straighten and tuck and kiss before climbing the rungs to the restless one tossing in the top bunk.

He rolls the day like a stone, turning it over, finding the treasures and the bugs; making sense from the chaotic order of his day. We lay in the quiet, and I inhale his scent, wrapping my arms around his slender frame, marveling at his metamorphosis. He turns, gazing up at the stars dangling above his pillow. I can make out his profile in the dark, and I listen intently to his stories; straining, sharpening my focus – his words are all I have to piece together his time away, his separate sphere where he clearly thrives and grows, where he creates a world all his own, to share or not.

At the most subtle of invitations, I enter; and I’m grateful for the telling. Grateful that the way he makes sense of the world is through stories, through words. It is a process I understand.

I could listen for hours, bits and pieces settling out from the reaches of his mind, pictures bubbling to the surface when he stills himself. But it’s time for sleep.

And it’s time for me to uncurl myself, to straighten from the bending, to ground my feet and stretch my arms skyward, to still myself and let my stories surface.

Because it is in the telling that I find it, projected on the wall where I can step back or look closely, examining the details and the whole.

* * *

Five Star Friday

Honored to have this post featured on Five Star Friday's Edition #79. Thank you!


Melissa Dominic November 9, 2009 at 9:17 PM  

I wonder which silhouettes the other children take home, projecting them against quiet walls in dark bedrooms, lit dimly by the glow cast through a door ajar?

best bit of written word i've read in a while. lovely!

Heather of the EO November 9, 2009 at 9:18 PM



really, lady. You can WRITE. So write. Keep writing.


Corinne November 9, 2009 at 10:18 PM  

I knew there was a reason I tried to save reading this until tomorrow - I can't come up with a decent comment. This is just splendid. Yes yes yes is all I want to say :)

Jo@Mylestones November 9, 2009 at 11:17 PM  

I stayed up past my bedtime to read this. So so worth it.
I love it. Every word of it.

Emily November 10, 2009 at 3:45 AM  

My favorite moments in this were in the fifth-to-last paragraph. My breath left at the description of your focus. You are doing so many things, Elizabeth, SO many things and yet you strain on his words and hover like a thousand lovers never could--this is motherhood at its finest!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing.

Dawn November 10, 2009 at 5:50 AM  

i feel lulled by your voice... not to sleep... but to peace! beautiufl pictures you created in my mind.... beautiful words.

Graceful November 10, 2009 at 6:59 AM  

Wow, this is spectacular. What an inspiring way to start my day as the sun rises over my backyard. Thank you!

emily November 10, 2009 at 7:13 AM  

I could listen to your mama voice all day long. Thank you for linking...and for unwinding those stories enough for us to see them, too.

cIII November 10, 2009 at 8:49 AM  

Yea. So this? Outstanding.
Well done.

Grumble Girl November 10, 2009 at 9:02 AM  

Very nice, babe. You're a good mum...

Mommy Melee November 10, 2009 at 9:05 AM  

You are doing this so very right.

togetherforgood November 10, 2009 at 11:16 AM  

This is breathtaking. Thank you.

deb November 10, 2009 at 11:57 AM  


Jami November 10, 2009 at 12:48 PM  

I really have nothing to add to all the comments already left here. I hung on every was beautiful.

Thank you for sharing...I needed to read your words today.

Kimberly November 10, 2009 at 7:18 PM  

Such truth here. So beautiful. I love when you say that "it is in the telling that I find it". Yes!

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters November 10, 2009 at 7:47 PM  

"He rolls the day like a stone, turning it over, finding the treasures and the bugs; making sense from the chaotic order of his day."

Beautiful imagery!

krista November 11, 2009 at 12:28 AM  

i have no idea how you did it but you actually made me contemplate the beauty of having another baby.

Ivy League Insecurities November 13, 2009 at 3:07 PM  

This is gorgeous. I am thrilled to have found your blog. I will be back.

Lee of MWOB November 13, 2009 at 3:29 PM  

Oh I wanna write like this sometime. So so beautiful. I love this.

My Bottle's Up! November 13, 2009 at 7:12 PM  

*standing ovation*

congratulations on five star friday. i will most definitely be back.


slouchy November 14, 2009 at 8:02 AM  

this is so evocative and lovely. i miss those days.

Sarah November 17, 2009 at 2:00 PM  

This is beautiful. And? It feels like me and my life. And yes, knowing that you, too, have three boys instantly makes me feel closer to you. It is a crazy kind of life. Having three kids is such a full kind of life. This piece made me feel calm about all the usual aggravations in my efforts before bedtime. I should read it at 6:45, just before we go up for baths, and books, and bed. Just before the kids reach for my comforter again so they can HIDE after their baths. Just before I'm searching yet again for a blankie or a doggie that's no doubt tucked in a corner or under a chair. Just before I am cursing under my breath again...because I want rest. Peace. Bliss. If I read this, maybe I will more often remember that I have it. In all the details I just described. As much as that I have it when they are still.

Thank you.
Where have you been?
Where have I been?

The Gypsy Mama November 18, 2009 at 11:53 AM  

Wonderful lyrical writing and mothering. Just beautiful. I feel like I need to say "Amen" when done reading it.

semicrunchymama December 5, 2009 at 6:57 PM  

This...was stunning. I really have no words that could even do this justice. This was one of the most incredilby beautiful things I have ever read.

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I'm a realistic optimist who relies on raw honesty and plenty of humor to navigate the boystorm that is my life. I am mother to three and wife to one. These are my stories.

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