the boy has started a comic book club and i have a tooth in my front pocket. the girl smiles at me. both of her front teeth have gone missing.
things go missing sometimes, like whole summers, entire years even.
a new friend and i talk about how we’re subject to the seasons – how fall can make you downright introspective. she points out that it’s time to harvest, it is time to see how well you prepared for the winter ahead.
i start to feel a little nervous because i’m pretty sure i haven’t planted like i should have.
what exactly am i going to be reaping?
i take eleanor to the water before school. sometimes you need to hear ducks quack prior to spending eight hours in a classroom. we walk the muddy shore while stealth fish jump.
when joshua and i were first married, i would walk the three blocks from our apartment in chicago to lake michigan. i’d watch the sunrise and pray. slowly the idea started to occur to us that we could have a baby and so i started to talk to god about it. i made certain promises about how i would raise any child that he gave me. but this is maybe the one i’ve kept best:
i promise to show them wide-open spaces.
even when i’m not the mother i could be or should be, i can still take them someplace beautiful.
i think the wide-open spaces we see out there resonate with us so because they’re a reflection of the wide-open spaces in here. in our hearts, in our souls.
i didn’t plant like i could have this summer. i wasn’t vigilant in weeding or in the removal of insects. i take a look outside at my crops expecting to see very little return this year.
but wouldn’t you know it – it seems i’m not the only one raising these kids.
it seems fields were planted when i was at yoga class or out with the girls or just grumpy and impatient or being plain, ordinary selfish. it seems like father and grandmother and aunt and uncle and jaja and papa all had a hand to the plow.
and those wide-open spaces that i brought them to out of habit, they do their part, too. they speak. they instruct. they make their own promises – of goodness, of a good life that waits for each of my children, of fun and of startling beauty.
these prayers and promises are kept. and they are best kept when they can’t be kept at all. when i’ve got to bring out the thresher to take down wheat that i didn’t work for, i see then that my children really aren’t my own.
and it’s then that I begin to pray for them.
i slip my fingers into my pocket and i feel the tooth pushed clean through by new bone, permanent, little replaced by big.
child replaced by grown-up.
and i listen to this rushmore boy of mine who is telling me about yet another club he’s created that didn’t exist before.