Trees and Tracks

So how am I doing with the Jonas Leaving part? I’ve been getting asked this question a lot. But I guess it’s not so sudden for me, since I’ve been processing it already for about three months. Actually, now there is almost a sense of relief—he was accepted and the decision has been made. The hardest part was not knowing what the outcome would be, the stress of amped up focus (on wellness, on all the hoops for jumping through), the worry for “what if he goes?” and “what if he doesn’t go?”It hits me in the car when I am driving alone. This year, we share a commute to school together: such a gift. I have my own private DJ every day, who tortures me with Michael Bublé (hilarious, right, that this crooner is my form of torture?), but will also choose songs he knows I like in equal measure. And we always pull into the school driveway on a pump-up song, played loud. We also talk.So when that passenger seat is empty and I’m driving my usual route alone (rare, but it happens), and I have to pick out my own playlist (no one is selecting music by request), and there’s no one to talk to or process with, and no one to tell me about a computer simulation he was doing online to balance the national debt, or about how I could be parenting Sylvan better or differently, or about the conundrum of separation of church and state yet it’s OK to swear on a holy book (why not swear on the Constitution, if you please?), it’s in those quiet, boring moments that sometimes just a few sobs come out.        When we visited the school, I was almost crying too, being there and recognizing a place that seemed so right for this boy. How will it feel for our family to be suddenly three? How will it be for Sylvan to be our only? I can only take just the one step at a time right now. But since I’m a trusting sort of optimist, I think it will be like our life is: mostly great, with occasional bumps. We’re lucky. So lucky. Spring Walk Poem

I started the day resentful of the cold, the dark, of the getting up part.

Sleep just kept pulling me down like drowning back into the seductive warmth of my bed.

It was also a take-Sylvan-to-school-with-me-extra-early day — another body to feed, prepare, nag, jolly and mobilize on time.

So thank god he wore his Superman socks because we needed all the help we could get.

23 degrees felt nearly tropical, so we had that going for us. But I forgot my hat.

The afternoon, however, was gentle.

When I got home, all I wanted was a walk.

The air was fresh, the sun was warm,

and the ground eased under my feet with spring mud-softness.

In the shadows there was still that snap on my neck,

and back to hard brown ice, crunching and slick.

Every step had to be mindful, nothing certain or expected about the surface of the earth.

My feet were leading, a sensory organ,

and I was observing fine details:

the brown lace edge of a puddle

and the lazy swirls of mud water trickling in a crack.

It looked like solid ground, but with one confident step forward

my boot squished deeply into brown frosting

—a trick!—

so airy and light that I wanted to sink my bare, pale winter foot right into it,

up to my ankle,

wiggling my toes into that smooth, cold wetness.


~a little story about a princess and her foolishness~

~#1 birthday knitting project completed, the jenny/brooks chevron scarf~

Once Upon a Time

When the prince left town,

the princess had to start her own fires and make her own coffee.

And thank god it was warmish because the prince also starts the princess’s car each morning.

The joke, however, was on the princess

one very dark morning,

when she was so very very far away in dreams:

morning yoga was out of the question

and just getting out of bed

was a triumph.

She made her own coffee in the dark, cold kitchen.

It was quiet.

She made sure both boys had smoothies ready for them, with lunches in various stages of preparedness, little notes where necessary:




Only later in the day did the ridiculous headache start,

a certain lack of focus like moving in thick water,

and a complete plummet of perkiness

ensued after lunch.

The princess begged the school nurse for some almond butter on a cracker—

perhaps her healthy salad wasn’t enough for lunch?

Driving home,

nauseous from the headache that was alternatively sharp and dull and everywhere at once,

she recalled the prince saying something about putting the coffee in some blahblah new place blahblah.

But since she was the princess,

at the time it didn’t really concern her,

not being the one who makes the coffee after all.


The princess had unknowingly reached for the jar of decaf and made herself a cup.

~st. patrick’s day brooding~
~this is what they really look like: smiley, handsome, delightful~



I guess I could already see it coming after all, even though I tried so hard not to look. Back in October, along that beautiful autumn wall, the future was already moving towards us. And Jonas was already stepping forward to meet it.

DSC02883I thought I had signed up for an 18-year first tour of duty (2017), but as it turns out we’re winding up early, in 2015.

IMG_0747[**Let’s be clear, the motherhood tour will never end until I die, of course, and probably not even then.**]


The week before winter break, in December, he decided he wanted to check out boarding schools for next year. “SURE!” I said with enthusiasm (hiding shock), “Um, when’s the deadline…?” It didn’t come out of the blue. It’s something we put forth as an option in the spring of 8th and spring of 9th grades, and both times the offer was barely across my lips before there was a definitive and very swift “NO.” The truth is, his high school experience has been good and he’s been happy; the school has been supportive and open to the ways in which he has already customized his learning experience (skipping into Honors Junior English, an independent study on Forms of Government and Social Structure, and an online AP US Government class this spring). So he entered into the application process knowing that he would be fine staying where he is.

SONY DSCOur month of January included 3 school visits. The closest was 3 hours away. All three interviews coincided with two prolonged nasty cold/flu illnesses for Jonas; he was in equal states of not-quite-100%-healthy for each one, but well enough to go. I sat in admissions offices with families from Florida, New Jersey, California, and one from Beijing. I saw the country’s largest high school library. We drooled over history elective courses that sound like college courses, each description like a special chocolate to savor. We worked through possible interview questions, questions for the interviewer, and special things to “work in” if possible. We had our pump-ourselves-up playlists for the car rides, snacks, toothbrush, water, cold medicine, tissues, thermos of tea, etc.

SONY DSCAnd at almost the 11th hour, coinciding with school vacation week, the discovery of a missing recommendation that we thought had already been submitted. And by some sort of grace, that teacher was reading his school email at 11:30 at night, on his vacation, and found it in his heart to write and submit (again?!) a digital copy the next morning. ON HIS VACATION. I was mortified to make this request. (Did I sleep that night? Nope.) And P.S. that dear teacher is a colleague that I see every day at school. And he even still talks to me at lunch.

SONY DSCHanging over it all was the sense of not getting too excited or attached to any outcome. Being cool, OK with whatever happens. Whatevs.



But I’ll admit that many times I had to take myself to task and remind myself that whatever was going on was decidedly NOT ABOUT ME and all about Jonas, on his own trajectory. Not my circus, not my monkeys. If I’m honest, it felt like I was offering up one of my masterpieces, someone amazing, one of the best humans I know (if I might say so), and what on earth would it mean if that wasn’t good enough and they didn’t accept him? How could they not?

SONY DSCSo, flash forward to this week.

SONY DSCHe got into his top choice and will be going away this fall. When he got the email, because that’s what they send out first, it came in a day early. A surprise! And he had to send it to me to be sure, because somehow the words “We are delighted to offer you admission…” were overshadowed by a photo of a bunch of celebratory teens in school colors, and he thought it might have been some sort of spam. “HELL TO THE YES #momscrying” was my reply. I knew that either way, it would be devastating; heart is both bursting with pride and excitement for all these doors wide open, and breaking into little bits and pieces as I start to imagine the space he will leave behind.

SONY DSCI have to fast-track the rest of my Mom Curriculum and the clock is ticking. It’s pretty minimal, just some polishing, really. Self-care skills will be high on my list. And I need to ponder what to put on his Mom’s Recommended Reading List for summer reading. Mr. Crafty is taking over the Movie/Film List. These four most important phrases, from my favorite author Louise Penny, are going to figure into the curriculum somehow:

  1. I was wrong.
  2. I’m sorry.
  3. I don’t know.
  4. I need help.



From your first breath,

your eyes were peeled,


As if,

by the amount of eyeball exposed,

you could consume more

of the world,

your oyster.

You never snuggled in my neck,

spaced out,

sucked your thumb,

or needed a break.


When you were awake,

the moment your eyes were open

your mind was alive, active, curious.

You had ideas, demands, plans,

articulating your visions immediately,

while I was still trying to pull myself out of sleep.

In those early years,

you came home from school exhausted every day:

your brain never stopped,

you never let your attention wander,

never missed any social exchange.

You remembered everything



and you made up even more

so you would retell stories you’d heard

with more details than the original text.

You were always eager to do the next thing,

unconcerned with perfection,

but enticed by the exploration of something new.

Curious, open, willing.