The wonder-filled life of a single older-ish mom.

Archive for the category “Monday’s Wonder”

Helmet Heart … and other thoughts on Valentine’s Day

The other morning, as sleep slipped over the cusp of consciousness, the words “helmet heart” echoed in my head. I tried to grab bits of the dream, wondering what this meant but was left only with those two words and the memory of taking off my bike helmet in the days when I used to bike long distances.

The helmet would have invariably pressed my wavy hair to my head, and I’d run my fingers through the strands to give it some life. On the morning of the helmet heart dream, it occurred to me I’ve very likely been keeping my heart under tough guard the past few years, without fully realizing it. I wondered if it’s time to fluff up my heart a bit, to let it expand to its natural state, even though I have no idea what this means.

No doubt I’ve shielded my heart from romantic relationships since the divorce, but I also wonder how I’ve helmeted it in other ways that I haven’t seen—such as not posting writings because they’re not fully formed yet (like this one) … or not intentionally planning joyful play time as I might define that, not just how Nina would. I don’t know yet what it would look like to fluff up my heart, and that’s ok. Maybe just taking the helmet off will oxygenate the answers.

So, that’s what this quiet Valentine’s day has me pondering. Nina, meanwhile, has been asking all month what this day is supposed to be about anyway. At the age of eight, she is straddling those days between innocence and awareness on so many levels, including what it feels like to have a crush, but this year she is strong in her stance that Valentine’s Day is a downright creepy celebration. She’s asked repeatedly, “Who celebrates a holiday where a baby flies around in a diaper shooting people with a bow and arrow?!” I don’t have good answers for her, either, on that one. I only know that, like most holidays certainly including Thanksgiving, love and gratitude should be daily practices and not relegated to one day of recognition.

My only other wish regarding this day is that some things remain immune from modernization, and that I finally wake-up and break-up with Pinterest.

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Leaning towards love —

love>fearI saw this bumper sticker some time ago, and have been thinking about how it applies to so many choices we make, or don’t make. Today I’m especially thinking about how it applies to parenthood, and how love and fear aren’t “one or the other” options. The two core emotions are intertwined like the helix’s of our emotional DNA,  each weaving through our hearts, minds, and decisions from conception on. The love is fierce, and the fears — whether real or imagined — can drop us to our knees.

Yet when the worst fears for our children become our reality, don’t we instinctively lean just a little harder into love than fear? Eight years ago, when Nina was admitted to NICU for evaluation of the hole in her tiny heart, we leaned into love although fear pulled at us like quicksand.

Today, I lean with all I have into love for my spirited friend who has rocked motherhood and lives life-out-fiery-loud, all while refusing to let years of countless and painful cancer treatments define her, or her family.

And today, I also lean with all my force into love for my friends, whose 8-year-old son will undergo surgery tomorrow to remove a mass in his brain.

I wonder if this is one of the most essential paradoxes of parenthood that we will never learn about in a guidebook.

There will be immense, breathtaking, love,

There will be immense, breathtaking, fear.

Sometimes they will coexist, each with such ferocity that we can hardly bear the weight. But then the burdens we thought we’d never face as parents — learning the steps required before entering a NICU room, setting up a Caring Bridge sight for a child — become things for which we’re most grateful. We whisper “thank you” for the safety of NICU, we whisper “thank you” for the outpouring of love that floods the child’s Caring Bridge site.

And maybe it’s the best we can do as parents to grab on and nudge one another towards the “greater-than” guiding force of love, rather than crumbling into fear.

For today, I’ll go with that.

Earth’s Valentine

On the heels of Valentine’s Day, Hallmark has nothing on Mother Nature.
earth valentineStones, nuts, shell. — By Amy Rawe

Monday’s Wonder

Or maybe it should be called “Monday’s WTF?”

It was Nina’s bedtime, and she said she had to take care of something in the kitchen first. When I checked on her a few minutes later I found her spreading a massive glob of grape jelly on a PBJ sandwich. She had already made three sandwiches, and had them stacked one on top of the other.

“Why are you making so many sandwiches?!” I said with exasperation. “Are they for bed? For lunch tomorrow?”

When she didn’t answer but instead added the fourth sandwich plus a toy crown to the stack I shrieked, “What are you doing?”

She turned to face me and said proudly, “It’s for the History of Sandwich-Making Museum. I guess you’ve never been there if you didn’t know that.”



Slowing Down

blackberryI was impatient this morning as I watered our blackberry bushes from the hose attached to the rain barrel. The water oozed out lazily, slow to relieve the cracked dirt parched from four days of ninety-degree sun.

I moved hastily from bush to bush, and my thoughts slipped easily into the mucky rut of shoulds. “I should paint the deck, clear the clutter from all the cabinets and drawers in the house, be a better example of flossing for Nina, iron the kleenex, blah blah blah.

Then I saw the first ripe blackberry — my benchmark for the first day of summer — and I felt lit up by simple, peaceful, joy.

I laid down the hose and let the rivulets seep into the soil around the bush, imagining the water caressing the tangle of roots underground. Every summer I am amazed by the resilience of these bushes and how they bear fruit despite a temperamental winter, despite my inattention. Once again, Nina and I will begin each day with cups in hand to collect the berries and we will joke about how we will surely turn purple if we eat one more plump berry.

As I picked that first berry, I realized that I’ve skidded into this summer harried with anxiety over how I’d manage the long ambling days of motherhood while trying to find more work and finally finish writing that book.

But in the moment that I tasted the berry, sweet with a tinge of tart, I wondered if the most important thing I can really do is be open to joy. Lighten up. Slow down. Savor.

I will always have a to-do list, and it will never all be done. If I accomplish only one thing today let it be the humble acknowledgement that a full rain barrel and an embankment of blackberry bushes is a luxury in this war-torn, impoverished world — and I am grateful.

Monday’s Wonder

dying flower dressI have been studying how flowers die, such as this clematis. Each flower surrenders through its own slow-motion dance with grace, and often the final bow is as breathtaking as the opening blossom.


Monday’s Wonder

purple tulip 2

It wasn’t until after I took this photo of the inside of a tulip that I saw the white angel pattern. I’ve decided to begin looking for more marks of grace in unexpected places.

— Amy Rawe


wingI found this in the yard yesterday, just one torn wing. It reminds me that nothing is guaranteed, and that all the time I spend fussing over the future may be better spent being resilient in the fragility of this one single moment.


Monday’s Wonder


While creating a photo folder of the past several years on Sanibel Island, I came across this throw-back from 2009. Nina was about 18-months old . . . this is her reaction upon seeing the ocean for the first time.

Monday’s Wonder

say thxI walked past this beauty in a parking lot.


Monday’s Wonder

back of dahliaThere’s an amazing place in Camden, Maine called Endless Summer Flower Farm, where owners Phil and Karen Clark grow more than 200 varieties of dahlias. While the “faces” of the flowers are certainly stunning, it was the “backs” that intrigued me the last time I visited. What was once the green outer petals of a tightly-clenched bud unfurl to reveal the inner beauty.
— Amy Rawe

Monday’s Wonder

apple tree seedsWhen Nina was three, she scattered bird seed in the yard so she could “grow birds.”
Here’s hoping the seeds from her Gala apple produce better results.

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