The home we carry with us, renovated (by additions and subtractions), and pass on to our children

07 Sep
The home we carry with us, renovated (by additions and subtractions), and pass on to our children

I’d like to go to bed now, but there’s a pile-up there–my husband and our two youngest, whom he enticed with stories to rub his tired shoulders and feet. The older one, on her way to bed, looks semi-content, but says Daddy promised stories and mostly all he gave toward the end was, “Oh, a little to the right…” These two children especially are cuddlers, need that touch, and I have to remind myself not to give and receive just words. It’s not enough for all of us just to be heard, and spoken to.

A few years ago there were four in the story bed, before that five, when they could all fit, and it was always with some taking the best spots next to daddy. I would try to catch up on kitchen jobs as the stories and cuddling proceeded. He made up a series about Jack and Sally and the magic forest, where all one’s gifts and abilities became enhanced, and good prevailed over evil. His stories always had lots of action, while in mine we’d get lost in describing the places in detail, ll colors, smells and growing things.

Out in the kitchen I am hoping to divine some Quotidian Mysteries. I watch over the tomato sauce, now thickening on the stove. An excellent tomato year, from seed to table. Cucumbers flourishing too, and beans, though the vines are loosening their grip, and there are no more flowers for the bees. I should have planted more greens by now, but at least there will be winter broccoli, chard and volunteer spinach and leeks.

Later I’ll nudge our little boy and sleepwalk him to bed. Put his hand on the ladder up to the loft, and up he goes, on auto. Then I’ll lie down in his leftover warmth beside my lightly snoring sweetheart in his once pressed business clothes.

I’m trying to write a poem, but got as far as I will tonight. Became too self-conscious, lost the smells and images I was telling in the lines, started trying to sound “poetic.” I have no training in poetry (perhaps I will yet), but cherish memories of my father and his brother’s recitations at my grandfather’s fishing lodge. My uncle had tears in his eyes, and my father’s voice was different.

How many of my interests, loves, longings to know came from my parents? Perhaps all of them, or at least the seeds. We are to be always planting, sowing, on our children’s behalf. Not shoving things in front of them, or making them take the same lessons, play the same sports we enjoyed, but living ourselves, in front of them. When I was young I resisted the direct approach (beyond a certain age), but was profoundly affected over my lifetime by the true attachments my parents demonstrated to principles, kinds of work and play, ways of being in the community, ideas, and the beautiful earth itself. I had the freedom to pursue my own interests (outside of school hours), and so I did, but there’s a remarkable similarity now in the pattern of living to which I gravitate, to their pattern. And a feeling of not being centered when I wander or am pulled away from it. And of course my husband carries his pattern around too, so we mesh and meet, combine and choose, sometimes differ–let the children discern what good they will in our approaches to life. In some aspects I purposefully, or necessarily, take a different tack from that of my folks, in the hopes of reaching beyond what they were able to achieve, as I hope our children do as well. But there is a home that I still carry around in my heart, and in it are my mother and father. I can see them even now, and they are washing the dishes, talking and watching the birds at the feeder outside the kitchen window.


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2 responses to “The home we carry with us, renovated (by additions and subtractions), and pass on to our children

  1. Kate Oland

    September 7, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Sitting here at work with tears running down my face, Gillian. Thank you for the wisdom of your words, and for taking the time to watch, and to wonder, and to write.

    • toesinthedirt

      September 9, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Thank you, Kate. I’m so glad you took the time to visit, and it’s special that you actually know my home and parents, can picture things as I do. And you and Brooke have a beautiful pattern of enduring value to pass on to your children, in spite of all the pull toward the generic cultural norms of today.


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