Sunday, March 14, 2010

Contemplations On The Back Forty

This is the path down to our literal "Back Forty." It is where my kids have often been disappearing to, as of late, and it is farther away than my holler can reach. And while it is majorly inconvenient for them to get that far away when I have Things For Them To Do...I am reluctant to fetch them because, quite frankly, this is about the only time of year that they can enjoy roaming around down there. In the fall and winter I am fearful of hunters and in the summer? Too hot.

Right now we're hitting 80's - perfect Spring Break weather (not that my kids know what a spring break is - they just think it is the time of year I won't take them to museums or parks because I refuse to do recreational activities with the masses) but in another month or so it will be so hot that we're letting the chickens out before dawn so they don't bake in their hen house. If this summer is a repeat of last summer (and I really hope it isn't) we're talking days and days of 100+ temps and no rain (or grass) in sight.

So yeah - now is the time for them to disappear down this magical path through the Texas mesquite trees (still haven't budded) and scrub brush and prickly yesterday I headed down the path to meet the kids for a little pasture/tank party.
After walking for a few minutes the path turns into a cow trail.....who can resist one of those? Not me!

I saw their bikes first (look to the right) and then some tiny figures waving to me from the other side of the pond. See them way over there?

I set up a little spot under a Not Terribly Shady mesquite tree....called them over for a mid-afternoon Texas Tea.

Jasper heard all those dang frogs but just couldn't catch any! Man - they were LOUD. There are some big boys in there for sure. No tadpoles, yet.

Anyone care for some Roobios tea? We also had sandwiches, fruit, yogurt and kippered herring ('cause we are weird that way).

What is Jasper thinking about with that little scowl? Who knows. That is a wound under his nose, by the way...not something worse....little stick injury from earlier in the week. You might also check out his bangs - he cut them, himself. He initially denied doing it until I told him it looked rather nice and then he just beamed and said, "I did a very careful job!"

And look at this all you Charlotte Mason-y types! Jules is drawing in his nature journal. SO THERE.

Camille picked flowers for Ranger's hair but couldn't figure out how to get them to stay behind his ear....
It was a perfectly lovely Afternoon Tea....or Pasture Party....or whatever you want to call it. I missed my two big kids, however. Ellie was at an art festival, Joel was sleeping in after having stayed up all night at a friend's house (playing poker). That is getting to be my theme....Missing The Big Kids.

Half the time I'm missing them in advance because I am constantly anticipating the Big Exit. Ellie's Big Exit is coming up soon....she is in 11th grade. Initially she was going to stick close-ish to home, but now she's talking east coast conservatories :(. I tell her I can't believe she'll be leaving me and she's like, "Gosh, Mom! You make it sound like I'm breaking up with you! I'm not LEAVING YOU. I'm just LEAVING."

"Will you miss me?" I ask.

She smiles. I know she'll miss me. But she's so excited at the prospect of her new life taking off that she can't fathom the possibility that she will. She's a terribly independent kid.

I find myself to be quite paradoxical, at the moment. I'm constantly feeling the need for my two youngest (8 and almost 6) to GET OFF OF ME. They are both very physically affectionate kids and since there has been no forced separation through school - they are still very "attached" and I mean that both in the emotional sense and in the stuck-to-me-like-magnets sense. So on the one hand I'm needing some serious personal space from my two Cling-ons, while desperately wanting to reel in my two big kids.....force them on my lap and the whole bit....even though they are both bigger than I am.

Joel is a hugger. If I hold out my arms he comes straight to me, bends over ('cause he has to do that now) and gives me a big, strong hug. Ellie is more of a If You Insist Half-Hugger sort.

Where is Jules in all of this? Where he has always been. Right in the middle. He is my little orbiter - he just orbits around - in and out - always a tad bit on the outskirts. Some of this is birth order and the fact that, unlike the other four, he doesn't have anyone within two years of his age. Some of it is Asperger's. He's pretty fluid, though. At times he enjoys being a follower. At other times, he really digs being the leader. And in his position he has opportunities to be both on a regular basis.

Parenthood is a strange path. In the beginning, the child is literally part of you...enveloped in a womb. This was a comfortable part of the path for me - both physically and emotionally. Pregnancy? Totally dug it. Then there is the part where the child starts moving around and kicking a little and you get this small inkling that maybe this thing isn't actually a part of your body - it seems to be doing stuff on its own. Then the labor and birth comes....exciting and painful....the first separation. But gratifying. The baby continues to surprise you by reminding you it isn't "yours" like your foot is "yours" and like you thought it was "yours" when it was in "your" womb. This is an odd realization. And it is followed by more separations. More little losses....but each one replaced by a gain. Still....those little losses.....they all leave a little mark, don't they?

Every first is also a last. The first time to do one thing often signifies the last time to do something else. Something you'll miss. But always - the child is there; entertaining you with whatever is "next" and so you don't mind the losses so much. Sometimes you don't even realize there's been a loss and you find yourself wondering, "When was the last time she held my hand? When was it that he switched to showers from bubble baths? When did she stop calling me into her room at night?"

Little losses all adding up to the Big One. They grow up.

If their needs have been met for attachment and love and guidance, they head off with seemingly little regard for all that they're leaving behind. Because that is what they're supposed to do. They're supposed to always be looking ahead, forging forth, heading off and moving on. The looking back? The mourning of lazy childhood days of summers past? That is left for me.

I think I'll stop tossing the little ones off of my lap. Stop chasing the big ones. Just let everybody be where they're supposed to be; including myself.

From where I'm sitting I can hardly see my own path ahead. But I'm sure it's there. Wonder where it will lead? I can't imagine walking it without little feet scampering after me. But then again, there was a time I couldn't imagine walking it WITH little feet scampering after me. Amazing, huh?

Signing Off as a Sardine Mama of Increasingly Bigger and Bigger Fishies


  1. It's so exciting to see them grow... but not so exciting to know that they will go.


    Love your picnic and that your younger ones have so much fun together.

    Duct tape helps hold flowers on dogs. I know this because Lyssa once duct taped an azalea to Maggie.

    You're welcome.

    Matt's still in college and living at home. After graduation, I know he'll find some great job on the other side of the moon or somewhere.

    Good for him.
    Bad for me.

    Lyssa has been saying for years that she's moving out when she turns 18.

    But I don't think she will.

  2. Sitting here crying reading this entry of yours.... My own daughter & I are in the midst of the separation dance right 'bout now. It's so hard on both sides; to know what to do. But you're right: 'If their needs have been met for attachment and love and guidance, they head off with seemingly little regard for all that they're leaving behind. Because that is what they're supposed to do. They're supposed to always be looking ahead, forging forth, heading off and moving on.'
    Just have to keep remembering this and make it my mantra..."It's what she's supposed to do; it's what's she's supposed to do".
    Thanks for making it clear(er) to me ;}

  3. Duct tape! Works for everything DUH.

    Dee - good mantra, let me know if it actually works...ya in better than breathing into a bag, etc.

  4. What a sweet post! I hope your kids read it one day when they are all grown! I laughed a lot at the Charlotte Mason-y type comment. :)