Decade (on turning 40)

On Sunday I turn 40. Since turning 30 I have:

Lived in Flagstaff, taught middle school, run a 10-k, played in the snow, walked in the desert, touched a whale, wrote a dissertation, earned my doctorate, become a professor at NAU, gone ice-skating, taken a snow-boarding lesson, snorkeled in the Caribbean, started a family with the love of my life, experienced a miraculous pregnancy, earned a lovely 6-inch scar on my abdomen, breastfed for twenty months, changed many hundreds of diapers, taught many hundreds of students, graded thousands of papers, and experienced an unexpected degree of kindness and generosity from family, friends, and strangers.

I have mixed feelings about turning 40. When I was a kid, that age seemed so old, but now it feels full of possibility. The gift of being a late bloomer is the knowledge that the best of everything lies ahead of me, not behind.

“You are as young as your faith,
as old as your doubt;
as young as your self-confidence,
as old as your fear;
as young as your hope,
as old as your despair.”

~Douglas MacArthur


This is Oscar on the couch with his beloved blankie.

Mornings are my favorite time (even though I’m tired). It’s a time when the day has not yet solidified and become a to-do list. It’s a time when Oscar likes to snuggle.

The memory of a cozy bed still lingers.

The house is quiet and still somewhat orderly.

We have a little ritual with the first diaper change (although I wish we could put this off until after my first cup of coffee).

He shows me his belly button.

And I show him mine.

Breakfast: toast, strawberries, yogurt.

On this particular morning Oscar also ate a bowl of granola and a plate of cheese and crackers. Sometimes he eats more than a grown man. Sometimes he eats one bite of food before declaring himself stuffed for the day. He doesn’t actually say these words, he just shakes his head, hands me his plate, and insists I put it out of site immediately. He won’t allow there to be any food in his site that he doesn’t want to eat.

He also won’t allow there to be any food on his fingers.

If I don’t drop everything and wipe his fingers on demand, he will wipe them on me. Or cry at the injustice.

Once breakfast is over (it can last minutes or hours) Oscar usually settles in with his toys. This is my absolute favorite thing, watching him play and imagine and think and create.

Sometimes he’s content to play like this for a long time. Other times he pats the floor next to him impatiently, wanting me to join in. Sometimes I get some work done. Sometime I have to leave him, which is the hardest thing I do on any given day. Sometimes the morning blurs into afternoon and I wonder where the day has gone.

He is my morning. He is my life.

For you…

I want to blog every day, no matter how small.

A photograph or a thought.

I’m getting ready to move into a new decade,

and it’s time to start living

a little more.

I want to be

a better mother

a better writer

a better photographer.

More present,

more aware,

more grateful.

I want to do this for me,

for us,

and mostly

for you

my son

who has given me everything…

Letter to Oscar–Month 24

Dear Oscar,

It’s been a long time since I wrote one of these for you, because I had no idea that being a mother would be so all-consuming and that it’s near impossible to be a mother and be anything else at the same time.

Every day you make you me happier than the day before. How can I express this? It’s like climbing a mountain. Each time I reach a new peak and see a new breathtaking vista, you take my hand and lead me to a place that is even more beautiful.

In the 37 years I lived before you were born, I had no idea that I could laugh as often, cry as hard, fear as much, or sit so still, inhaling your scent, which to me is life itself.

I love nothing more than closing my laptop, putting away my books and papers, and sinking to the floor to help you with your puzzle, watch you mull over your flashcards, or sit unmoving as you drive cars and airplanes up and down my arms. Every time I have to walk out the front door without you, my heart is cracked in half.

You don’t say many words right now, but you are so smart you take my breath away. I love watching you find the letters on refrigerator that match your flashcards. I love watching you concentrate while solving problems and I love watching your face light up as you laugh at something on tv.

I quietly mourn the loss of your chunky thighs, baby roundness, sweet lightness, and your once ability to curl in a compact bundle against my chest. You now want to walk instead of being carried, but you still want to hold my hand.