Leaving the New Year dinner tonight, Max had a meltdown.  He was crouched in the back of the car, on the floor, sobbing, his big boy seven year old body shaking from the force of his sorrow.  He was crushed, laid out and completely undone because he was unable to hug our friend Jeff goodbye tonight.  Jeff was busy helping with the cleanup and helping our hostess get her own kids upstairs to bed and so Max was rushed out of the house without his customary hug.

On an ordinary day, this might have been fine but Max is suffering from a cold that won’t go away.  And he was up way past his bedtime.  And he is feeling a little like the world is spinning out of control.  Our dear Odette has been holed up in her room now for over a month, recovering from surgery and has been unable to play with him.  There are rotting vegetables in the kitchen, and dirty dishes piled up very high in the sink.  And all around him the adults are murmuring things about bailouts and stock accounts and layoffs and while he doesn’t know exactly what any of that is he is sensing that it is probably not good.

It is in moments like these that we most need to hold on to the ones who give us security, the ones who make us feel safe.    We deeply long to be seen, to be hugged, to know that in the end, at least we have each other.  Not in an intellectual way, but in a physical, real and tactile way.

I know what Max was feeling.  These days, I am feeling a kind of new fragility that comes from being somewhat new.  While it is generally good, there are moments when life, the sights and colors and bright lights and intense emotions can be a bit overwhelming.  There are days when I am acutely aware of how little I understand, how little I can really grasp.  And I am aware of how, like a newborn child, I have no words to explain it all to those around me.  In these moments all I want to do is to crawl up into the lap of my loved ones.  I want to be passed from one lovin’ set of arms to another.   I don’t want to have to be big or grownup or understand about commitments.  I want to be seen, and have that seeing acknowledged with real, tangible physical assurance.  I need to know in a way that is neither intellectual or abstract that they are there.  And when they can’t be, I can find myself in a metaphorical ball on the floor of the car.

It was for all these reasons that I was able to stifle my sighs and turn off the car and go inside to get Jeff.  While it was true that Max would see Jeff tomorrow, and Wednesday and Friday too, the truth is sometimes, when it comes to love, all we have is now and promises of tomorrow aren’t enough.  And while I hesitated a second, thinking that this was really just attention getting behavior  it occurred to me that sometimes attention is really what is needed.

In the dark, Max crawled off the floor and into Jeff’s lap and lay a weary head on his shoulder. His little boy/big boy body relaxed out of the tight tight ball into a mushy kind of puddle.  He was able to go, knowing that he was seen, that that seeing was real and that love finds a way, even out to the dark car.

And this not only comforted him but lifted him and made him laugh.

It made me laugh too as I turned to wrap my own arms around Jeff and just for a second lay my own head on his shoulder and breathed in the tangible, the solid, the real love that is my friend.

Saturday afternoon found me in the country.  I sat in the breezy sunshine with an amazing and powerful woman and I watched while horses ran about in a pasture and Max and her children climbed trees and swung on swings.   I was there as the first step of my year’s quest to explore what it would mean to become a healer.  We talked for awhile about tuition and student loans, grad school schedules and homework, the difficulties of working while going to school and the financial viability of setting up an acupuncture practice.    The data was useful but I still felt adrift, a little scared and completely at a loss for how I am going to make this dream come true while working and being a mama.

I asked her how she decided to become a healer.  She told me that she was sitting on the couch one day, praying, meditating and wondering what it was that she should do with her life.  And then, suddenly, and she just knew it was something she should do.  She said that day she just opened her heart to it.  She didn’t question or fuss, even though it required moving halfway across the country.  She just heard her heart whisper its dream and she obeyed it without question.  There was no process.  There was just a decision.

I am always amazed when I meet people who listen to their inner wisdom the very first time it bubbles up.  Who take the dreams in their own hearts seriously.  Who don’t think but act when their heart, their soul, their own inner voice of God starts to nudge them.  I am in awe of those people who know what it is that their hearts were meant to do and can just fearlessly leap into the void and trust that if they only do it, all will be well.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I just leaped, joyfully instead of hemming and hawing, weighing facts and figures.  I wonder what it would feel like to just run, spread my wings, open my heart and let go.  I wonder what it is to just trust that voice inside — to know it is stronger, smarter, wiser and truer than any of the other facts, opinions and experts I seem to want to consult.  I wonder what would happen if I could float in that place of radical trust and not question the how or the why or the when but just to go with what is.

I wonder what would happen in this world if we could all feel free to leap so joyfully into our dreams–the things our hearts somehow seem to be calling us to do.  I wonder how the world would be if we could all just recognize our bliss and follow it, unafraid.

I rose this morning after hours of not sleeping.  I lay in the dark in silent meditation.  In peace.

Long hours of silence have a way of settling my heart now.  They used to rattle me but I am no longer fearful of looking into the dark parts of my heart and seeing all the ways I am messy, and flawed and unkind and selfish.  If I can stay long enough with these pieces of myself I learn something true.  Something that lets me stop beating myself up and instead find the wounded part of my heart and kiss it and put a bandage on it.

I have been having a hard time with people who need me.  I am unable to embrace their neediness, unable to reach out with compassion and dive in fearlessly.   Instead I conserve my resources and hold it all close and give what I can, but not too much, and with a forced smile, sometimes.  I leave as soon as I can and retreat back to my place not wanting to give too much away.  I am tired.

Truth be told, I don’t like that smallish, tired, exasperated person much.  Its not who I think I am, or rather who I think I want to be.  I want to be selfless, and giving, and most excellent in my generosity.  The smallish me who resents being asked to help who stomps her feet doesn’t feel like me at all.

In the hustle and bustle of the day I can punish that person when she shows up.  I fuss at her and tell her to get over herself and resent her resentfulness because of what it does to my image of the me I want to be.  But in the quiet of the night, in the meditative space between dreaming and wakefulness I can just sit with her and sometimes when  I am listening with a quiet quiet heart she tells me things I know are true.

Those who are needy, who ask for help so fearlessly, who expect it to come so freely can make me uncomfortable sometimes because they highlight just how hard it is for me to ask for help myself.  I so rarely let it all fall apart.  I so rarely say I can’t do it alone.  I so rarely cry uncle and just let my needs be taken care of like a newborn baby.  I am scared to be that needy. But I know that when I break through and whisper the word help there are hands there to catch me, hold me, pull me up.  To throw their arms around me and stroke my hair, to wipe away my tears and type me love notes.

What do you learn when you allow yourself to be sit silently with your least favorite version of yourself?

My dearest Jackie, who breaks all the rules, brought me a birthday gift tonight.  This rockin’ Celtic T-shirt fits me like a glove, and resonates at exactly the same frequency of my little Irish soul. I am never taking this shirt off!
The words around the heart say:  Like all things that are precious to us, we tend to keep our emotions under lock and key.  Love itself is far too beautiful a gift not to share with everyone.  

After a dinner of perfectly grilled kebabs, kick butt fish stew and the best carrot salad this side of north Africa, after a homemade ice cream cake that beat any other I have ever tasted, we sat in a circle and they, my beloved tribe helped me to create my list.  My list of things to do before I turn forty.  What’s beautiful about this exercise is that in adding an item to my list they pledged to do something (big or small) to help me get it done, to be my a co-conspirator, an angel to assist me, to hold my hands and jump feet first with me into the wild and messy river of my life.

In the spirit of love for them, in the spirit of my love for this life, I embrace this to do list, this plan.  I hearby pledge to wrap my heart around these items and sink into the joyfulness of them.

  1. Take a kayak lesson on the Potomac
  2. Learn to throw a pot
  3. Perform at an open mic night
  4. Sing a duet with  sweet Andy McD
  5. Learn to Irish step dance
  6. Go see Step Afrika
  7. Take Max to see Sweet Honey in the Rock
  8. Start to build my Goddess garden I have been dreaming of
  9. Paint my living room and hallway
  10. Create (and dare I say perfect) a gluten-free pizza dough recipe.  (Homemade pizza and Eric’s homemade bread are the only two things that will tempt me off my healthy gluten free path.  This gets me 50% of the way there! )
  11. Explore acupuncture and my calling as a healer
  12. Start that girls’ (age 8-11) knitting club I have been talking about
  13. Ride a roller coaster
  14. Stay a night at the Purple Fiddle
  15. Learn to swim
  16. Run a 10K
  17. Learn to count to ten in three African languages
  18. Finally master the f’in F chord
  19. Teach Max to knit (my sweet boy added this to my list, saying he would help by doing the learning!)
  20. Go out to hear live music at least ten times (this is an easy one which just makes me feel productive!)
  21. Figure out how to live migraine free

Wanna jump in with me?  What do you think I might do in this crazy wild messy year before I turn 40?  Lets do it together.

Thirty nine years ago today, with the gentle brush of an angel’s wings,  I was shepherded into my mother’s arms.    I have been held ever since.  Passed from one love to another, handled with care,  handled roughly, given space to move and wiggle and grow but always held.  When I am at my loneliest, and I sink into empty silence I can feel the web of hundreds of hands, the ones who held me then, who hold me now, who I hold keeping me afloat.

This year I have learned many things but most of all this:  My life is not a landscape to be overcome, nor is it a mountain pass to survive.  My life is a wild and rushing river, but it is not meant to be forged or crossed;  there is no “this side” or “the other” there is only in, as in with both feet, swept away.  Sometimes it is wild and rushing, sometimes it is calm and peaceful, often it is murky, usually messy but always it is exactly what it is at that moment–nothing more, nothing less, until it changes again.  And it changes, around every bend it changes.  I have often waded in the shallows, clinging to the shores, searching for a bridge that will carry me over but there is no over.  There is only in.

Last night at the stroke of midnight in the arms of music and laughter I was carried again into another year.    The current will carry me away some place wild and wooly or unexpected I am sure, no matter how I cling to the scenery I just passed.   

The other day a friend looked me in the eyes and said, “Trust your life”.  What other choice is there? 

So here’s to jumping in with both feet, to getting wet, to stopping attempts to cross and instead to lifting both feet up, laying back and trusting the water.

Ten years ago this past July Juan and I moved into our house.  Compared to the one bedroom English basement we shared in Mount Pleasant it was a palace–expansive and huge and wide open.  Of all the things we loved about the house, the most magical were the closets.  In Mount Pleasant we had only one closet in the whole damn place–one closet to store his clothes and mine, the shoeboxes full of memories, the rollerblades and iceskates and winter boots and summer sandals.  Here we could have his and her closets.  A closet for coats.  A closet for out of season clothes.  A closet for linens.

In the front of the house is a den.  The real estate agents call it a bedroom and I suppose it could be one in a pinch.   It is large enough for a desk, a chair, some shelves.  Even though I doubt a twin bed would fit in comfortably, the real estate agents can call it a bedroom because it has a closet.   This closet was most wonderous of all–a deep bonus closet in a bonus room.  I dubbed it “the knitting closet.”

In my younger days I had three or four knitting projects going at once.  The projects were always scattered around the apartment in their half-finished glory, shoved into one basket or another.  And then there was the yarn I would buy at wool festivals or on sale from my favorite shop.  And the yarn that was left over from the projects I had finished–the yarn that was too beautiful to throw away even if I had no idea what to do with it.  It littered our apartment and drove Juan nut–all that wool.

And so, ten years ago, as I stood in my grown-up house, I knew that all the collateral clutter that came with  my creative outlet would finally have a home.  Its own special closet.  A place where I could put all things creative.  The place I would stores the pages and pages of patterns, the unwieldy piles of books, the hooks and the needles and the bags of wool and cotton that would one day become sweaters.

******

A few days ago I found myself on the phone with a friend of a friend.  She is an astrologer and an intuitive and a woman of power.  I had never had my chart done and I thought it would be a fun thing to do–an early birthday present for myself.  I had heard so much about Charlotte from our mutual friend and I had a feeling she was my kind of sister.  The chart reading gave me an excuse to support another mama in her  business and to finally connect with someone I had longed to meet anyway.

An hour into our conversation, I was in tears.  I wanted what she was saying to not be true but deep in my heart I knew she was right and it reduced me to a puddle.  I don’t know if it appeared in my chart, if she felt it as a clairvoyant or if she just figured me out in the first hour of our friendship.    But she nailed me.  She said that I think I am done letting go but I have so much more to do.  She said I want to move on, but I am still stuck.  She said I think I am in touch but I am missing the mark.

She told me that I am the type of person who wants to box things up in neat little packages and declare them finished.  I want to draw bright lines around the events in my life and proclaim them to be done. “whew…what a journey…So glad I learned from THAT experience….so glad I am OVER that…so happy to have crossed the torrential river to have found safe ground.  No looking back now.  Its done. ”  I want things to be tidy and linear.  I want to move forward into a place that is neater and less complicated.    I pack up my experiences in little boxes and shove them into closets.

Now wonder this line from this song has haunted me all summer:

You pass through places, and places they pass through you

and you carry them with you on the soles of your travelin’ shoes…

I box it all up and shove it in a closet.

*************

Yesterday, the three day long migraine started to let up and I was finally able to get up and move about.  I could move but I could not really think or read or look at a computer or even a TV.  I couldn’t stand to sit in bed more more moment and so instead I decided to clean my home office.  Mindless work that would allow me to move my body gently.  All the better if I couldn’t think.

My office has become a junk room.  I never work there anymore, instead dragging my laptop to the dining room table and work here at the end of it.  I know it would be so much more serene if I just had use of the closet.  The knitting closet.

Over the years, the knitting closet has become a cartoon version of itself.  It is so stuffed full of crap that you have to open it only a quarter of the way and shove something in quickly lest the whole mountain of stuff fall out on your head.   Really.  The closet was filled with half-finished knitting projects and half-finished scrapbook pages, bags and bags of yarn, candle making supplies, and paper and toys Max no longer played with.

I have attempted to clean out the closet in years past.   I sometimes made small progress, sorting the yarn into bins and the unfinished projects into piles.  Baby projects, gift projects, things I started for myself but never could complete.  But cleaning out this closet was always a frustrating experience because I could never allow myself to throw anything but a few errant pieces of paper away.

Each unfinished project represented a dream to me.  A small dream, maybe a dream I forgot I had, but each project represented a piece of my history, a piece of my heart.  There were the pillowcases I bought in Mexico and had started to embroider that I swore would one day decorate our marital bed.  There were the girly-baby sweaters that I had abandoned when Max was born, deciding instead to pick them up when I got pregnant again.  There were gifts for friends I had long ago forgotten.  There was yarn I bought when I was poor and ambitious–yarn I had intended to make into things to sell, yarn I had intended to make into things to make the house pretty, yarn I had intended to make into things to make me look sexy when  I lost that 10 pounds.  There was the half completed barnyard animals that I had started for a friends child but kept because maybe Max would someday have a child would appreciate them.  There were the patterns for the jackets I had intended to make as a way to supplement my income.  Each one of them representing hours and hours of hard work I couldn’t dare declare to be in vain.  Each one of the things shoved half finished into the closet reminded me of some unfinished business I might just come back to, a dream that perhaps had not quite come to fruition, but maybe, possibly, one day might.  Better hold onto it, just in case.

*************

There was nothing to do but throw it all out.

Half-finished dreams shoved in a closet, even when they are disguised as trite metaphors, have a way of being sticky.

*************

I went through it all, the yarn, the needles, the projects half knit.  I stopped weighing the hours that had gone into each piece and asked myself instead was I really going to finish it?  The answer to every project but one was no.  And so, I  salvaged what I could, collected the needles and the stitch holders and notions in my tool box.  I saved the most precious, luxurious and wonderful of yarn that had not been made into anything–that had no dream attached and gave away or threw away the rest of it.

As I struggled over throwing away the partially completed projects I realized it was not all my work that I was still attached to but rather whatever the half-finished project represented to me–a sibling for Max,  a Christmas when I would surprise Juan, a life where I knit and designed things for a living.  Dreams I had thought I had let go of, but maybe only half way, dreams that were still half complete and shoved in the back of my heart.

************

I want so badly to be done with loss.  I am really anxious to come to the place on the other side of the river when grieving is not necessary.  I don’t like coming back in circles to the place where I stood before, the place where grief feels raw and fresh.  I want to be Polly Anna and all aglow in gratitude for the life I have made in place of the life I thought I would have.  I want to get to the other side and be DONE WITH IT ALREADY.

But there is no other side.  There is just my life.  With the closets that need emptying, one by one.

Maxidoodle hugging  Stephen:  Because he is brilliant, because he is my friend, because he would be flattered for me to post a photo of him on my blog, because he gave me inspiration for my perfect birthday present…

My 39th birthday is just a week away.  Thirty-nine feels big and heavy, more so than even 40.  Perhaps because it is a “last”–the last year I will be in my thirties.   I relish being in my thirties.  Thirty-something felt like the perfect age–young enough but still perfectly grown-up.  The lesson of the last years have been poignant and real and messy and wonderful.  This last decade has been an amazing adventure.  It was like nothing I expected and yet I landed exactly where I needed to be.  I love being thirty-something–I admit it and truth be told, I am mourning letting this decade go.  And while I am still 12 months away from that inevitable moment, I find myself sighing and imagining how it will be to have a year of lasts.  Just like I faced my senior year of college wistfully, knowing it would be my last as a full-time relatively irresponsible student, I feel I am embarking on the last year of a decade so sweet.  I know that there is nothing to be gained by holding onto this past, but I am still feeling strangely well…wistful.

I think that this wistfulness is highlighted because I feel like I am standing on sort of threshold, in some sort of transition, as though I am on the verge of some big kind of shift in my life and it just happens to be happening at the end of this decade.  Perhaps that’s why 39 feels so big and heavy to me.  My age has become a symbol for me–of being at the end of something and at the start of something else.  It feels like that last leg of this journey before a new one will start.  And maybe I am feeling a little afraid.  And a little bit as though  I want to cling to something comfortable, even something as crazily comfortable as my age.

Yesterday, on our way out to get lunch I shared this with my friend and brother Stephen.  We were talking about the little dinner party that my friend Cathy is throwing for me next week.  Stephen can’t keep secrets and has shared with me every bit of news he gets about the affair.  I told him about how this birthday feels so pivotal to me.  I shared with him why.  I told him that it feels like one last dance of  being thirty-something (for whatever that means).  Stephen is well past thirty-something so he rolled his eyes at me but one of the reasons I love him so is that he gets me so deeply and fundamentally.  He recognized my need for ritual not ridicule.

I expected him to make fun  of my youthful silliness and to tell me to get over myself.  But instead he was thoughtful.  “Since you feel this way,” he remarked, “you need to honor it and celebrate it…go with it–don’t fight it” And then he got excited.

We had been talking about how I didn’t want presents for my birthday but about how Cathy had mistakenly emailed them all that I did want presents which he thought was bold and brave and refreshing–so much so that when she corrected the email and told them that I DIDN’T want presents, he was terribly disappointed.  He has been on the quest to get me to ask for a present ever since.

“Aha,” he said, his eyes lighting up.  “I KNOW what we can do for you.  Its a perfect non-present present you can ask for AND it will help  mark this pivotal year.”

“You need to task us all with coming up with coming up with 40 things we are going to commit to help you do/experience/see or live before you turn 40.  We need to be your conspirators during this year of transition.  That can be our present to you. ”  What a lovely idea for the keeper of lists… I wear my dreams on my sleeve.  I keep my list of 100 things to do before I die pinned to my desk.    Every year I make my Mondo Beyondo list and share it shamelessly with anyone who is interested.

We both stood in the September sunshine for a second and basked in the brilliance of his idea about the perfect birthday present.

“For instance…you want to skydive–who is going to volunteer to go with you?”  Now it was my turn to roll my eyes at him.  Stephen is sometimes as insane as he is brilliant.  I am going no where near an open door of any plane.  “OK, OK…maybe not skydiving.  But you get my point.  And we can help you.  We can suggest amazing adventures or things you might not even think of…And you don’t have to do it all if you don’t want…you can CHOOSE what to do but the point is it can be a year of no excuses because you will have help in getting it done.”

I love this idea.  The idea of making this last year of my thirties about choosing how live lusciously, full and bravely with the help of my friends and community.  I love it so much I haven’t stopped thinking about it.    I wonder what kind of good habits will it spawn and support–a habit of choosing adventure, a habit of asking for help, a habit of not waiting until a better time, a habit of living in the present instead of the future, a habit of saying WHY NOT NOW?

And so I told Cathy to correct her email once again and to hint about the present I wanted most.

And I throw this open to you my friends, those who stop by here and who have listened to the whispers of my heart…Can you contribute to this present?  Do you have a suggestion for me and are you willing to be my conspirator if I wish to follow through on your idea?  If you want to help…leave a comment here or email me at meg (at) megcasey (dot) com.   Next week on my birthday (or maybe the day after) I will share my list (created by Stephen and our gang along with all of you) here.   I can’t wait to unwrap this one!

Dear Maxidoodle-

Last month in the car you asked me how old I was when the best thing that ever happened to me happened.  I was 31, almost 32.  In fact it was seven years ago today–at exactly 10:07.  That was the day you were born.  That was the day you changed my life.

I can’t believe it has already been seven years.  The time has flown so quickly.  All those milestones seem to have happened at rapid fire speed, first smile, first steps, first words, first friends, first days of school, first lost tooth.  Sometimes I feel that our days together will never end but mostly I feel that you, your sweet childhood, it is slipping through my fingers.  And I want to stop time, or slow it down–all the better to savor these years we get to spend together.

They say that a mother’s work is that of a teacher and guide.  I do my best to teach you about healthy eating and to brush your teeth everyday and the importance of baths.  I try and teach you about saying thank you and good study habits.  I think all that is sinking in–but mostly I am struck by how the roles have been reversed.  How much of our time together I have been the student and you, my precious boy, have been the teacher.

You are my funny guy–the one who is quick with a punchline, who will crack a joke to make me laugh just when I feel the worst.   You are silly and you have a laugh that is infectious.  You will make me hula hoop for hours.  You will beg me to twirl with you on the grass until we both fall down.  You will drag me into the rain to dance with you.  You will turn the hose on me when the temperature climbs above 90.  You have taught me about joy.

You are my compassionate child.  You spend your own allowance on phone cards for O-O so she can call her girls when she is lonely.  You bring me cool wash cloths when migraines ravage my body.   Dogs and cats love you.  You are gentle with them and you seem to speak their language–know just what they need to be comfortable.  You open your heart to the strangers who have become our friends.  You wrap your arms around them and are not afraid to ask them to care.  You have shown me how to love fearlessly.

I admire how you jump into new social situation and try new things.  Even when you are afraid, you embrace the challenges life sets before you and do amazing new things.  You climb mountains, ride horses, jump in with whole new gangs of kids with confidence and enthusiasm.  You have taught me how to live fearlessly.

You are my wild child.  Whenever we are anywhere near the woods, you strip down to your shorts.  You find your perfect stick and within minutes you are running free, your curly hair streaked by the sun.  You pay attention to the bugs, the animals,  the fish.  You notice them.  You have taught me how to be.

You know how to push my every button.  You challenge me.  You make a mess and don’t clean it up.  You talk back.  You teach me patience over and over again.    When I lose my patience you teach me about forgiveness.

Being your mama has been the greatest adventure of my life.  I am privledged and honored to be in this role–the role of driver and washer and cleaner and cooker and to get to spend so much time with a person so wise and funny and loving.

Happy Birthday my boy.   I love you to the moon and back again a hundred thousand times.

your Mommy

One of my proudest days this summer was when I walked in on Max explaining to his friend the leveraged buyout business model and that it was inherently “selfish and mean”.  Ok…Ok…He has had some exposure to my politics over his tender 6 years-he didn’t just pick it up from the air on his own.   But despite his tendency to agree with me much of the time, he is wrestling to come up with his own opinions and that makes me equally proud.  One day when he came into work with me he remarked as he was stuffing envelopes…”Mom…If we won the lottery we’d be rich and then John McCain would give us tax breaks and then it wouldn’t be so bad that he is the loophole king.”  It took awhile for me to explain that I don’t mind paying taxes because I believe that we all need to chip in to take care of one another and our community and that if I was rich I especially wouldn’t mind because we are a “sharing family” and that even if I did win the lottery I would still be routing for Obama.    Max said he would need to think about it.  He was for Obama but it might all change if he won the lottery and wanted tax loopholes.  That’s OK.

On that same day, Max announced that he had discovered Steve Earle and that Copperhead Road was now his favorite album–well maybe it was tied with Billy Bragg/Wilco’s Mermaid Ave Volume 1.  Oh my sweet boy.  He’s political AND he has good taste in music.  I am raising him right.  I pat myself on my back as though his brain and his taste in music somehow have something to do with me.

Last night he had his 4 best buddies sleepover to celebrate his birthday.  I am still reeling from the fact that next week he will be seven years old.  Its one of those odd milestones–not well rounded like 5 or 10 (or 40) but for some reason it feels more poignant.  Six feels young and sweet and still close to babyhood.  Seven feels so grown up.    So much has changed in this last year–His face is no longer round and soft.  He is lanky and sometimes I see glimmers of the young man he is growing into in his eyes.  Seven somehow reminds me that he won’t be my baby forever–that he is becoming his own person.

Truth is he has always been his own person.  When he was born, he would scream if swaddled, despite what the baby books said about how it would comfort him.    When he was two he declared himself a vegetarian, because he thought it was mean to eat animals.  His life was forever changed by Bruce the Shark in Nemo.  “Fish are friends…not food” he would repeat over and over again “…and so are chickens and cows Mommy…”  While we have agreed to disagree on the food thing he still occasionally raises his eyebrows when I am cooking up bacon and eggs or grilling chicken.  One day he even said “I can’t believe you mom…how can a mom who is so kind  be so cruel….”  How indeed.

Yes, its been one big illusion that he is MY baby.     But its been an illusion I have enjoyed hanging onto.  Still there are moments when it all fades and I realize that the beauty of who he is becoming, of who he is RIGHT NOW and that in many ways it has nothing to do with me and I am beginning to think that this fact is more lovely.

Max is here on his own  journey and for some reason I have something to teach him that will help him along the way and that is why he came through me.  But he is not mine.  He will leave sooner than I can even imagine it and our relationship will shift and change a thousand times between now and then.  This morning as I watch he and his friends bounce around to the Clash and Steve Earle,  as I shake my head at the fact that Max doesn’t want these delicious blueberries in his pancakes, this poem runs through my head over and over…

Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but are not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

-Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Hello.  My name is Meg.  And I am a Weeds addict.

Not weed people.  Weeds.  The Showtime TV show.

I am sitting here long after most reasonable people go to bed, desperately clutching the phone, waiting for Jackie to call–like a junkie waiting for a dealer to phone her back.  Must-get-my fix.

In order to keep the habit under control, Jackie and I promise we will only watch TOGETHER.  Its just social.  Really.  But we call each other late at night with shaky voices–“Can you come over tonight?  Are the kids in bed?  Are you up for it?” and we promise ourselves–we’ll just watch one episode.  Just one.  Honestly.  But then we can’t help ourselves and before long we are sprawled out on the couches, strung out on good sh*t brain candy TV,  popcorn and chocolate.  Looking longingly at the DVD of the next season, looking nervously at the clock–can we watch one more and still get up with the kids?  Can we keep living this double life?

Jackie walks into the house declaring, “I think I may be trading in my marriage for Weeds…”  Oh the shame of it.  But I gotta go…My girl is waiting for me.

Tomorrow is another day.