Friday, July 31, 2015

Starbucks Prayers

Today I sit at the high bar of that purveyor of caffeine where the outdoor seating is full of bright green umbrellas. I quickly picked the spot on the far left, next to the electrical outlets since my 18 month old Dell is already a little needy and doesn’t like to work without being plugged in. There are five spaces and the other two customers at the bar have spread out evenly. On the far right a gentleman is working steadily with his shiny Mac and stack of books. He’s writing something and he sips his Grande Americano as his fingers fly, only interrupted by the occasional conversation that seems far too loud for a coffee shop. In between is a gentleman I’d guess is in his seventies wearing a tightly woven fedora with the smallest feather in the brim. He sits with his gently worn, yet meticulously cared for leather satchel. He is reading a photocopied and stapled article about German refugees as he makes the occasional note in his composition book. It’s labeled by hand, “Book #4” and he keeps his place with a small binder clip. He reads, he writes, he sips the espresso in the small white mug. He stops only to use his article to swat at the fly which does not want to leave the window. He checks to make sure it didn’t fall on his bag and goes back to reading. I desperately want to read what he’s writing, but if I peek anymore he will notice. Me, I’m writing but I’m listening to Mumford and Sons, I’m gazing at the unbelievably blue sky, and pondering why people are so bad at parking.

It’s my last morning without the kids. I’m trying hard to write though it’s hard to admit I’m feeling so rusty. My mind isn’t settling quickly as it should. I’m fascinated by all the life outside the window. The mom and her two daughters on their coordinating bikes with matching baskets, the tag still in the smallest. The family driving their beaming daughter in a Mini Cooper. The detective who has been here three out of five days this week.  The Northwestern fans in their purple polo shirts. And “open up my eyes, tell me I’m alive” rings in my earbuds but I can still here the families gathered behind me laughing at the videos they are sharing on their iPhones.  The street is charming and I remember why so many leave Chicago for the city north of us where the trees are yarn bombed and everyone seems so happy.

There is a lot I want to write. I want to tell you how living in the city has changed and shaped me more than I thought possible. I want to tell you how I struggle between wanting to write more while simultaneously wanting to wrap my arms around my girls and never let them go. I want to tell you sending my kids to public school is an act of faith. I want to tell you what it’s like to have your theology and parenting questioned. So much to write and all I can do is sing along “say something, say something, something like you love me.” And I know the words I type go out as prayers I don’t even understand but the more I hear the clacking of the keyboard the more I hear my heart’s cry go up and there is something holy even in the corner of a loud Starbucks.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Five More Weeks

They look like summer, at least the way I imagine summer should look like, their blonde hair lightened by the afternoons of chlorine and sun. Tan lines despite the layers of sunscreen put on repeat. They smell hot, a mix of sun and sweat, and their feet are constantly dirty. We are at swimming lessons. We are jumping on the trampoline nonstop. We are riding bikes. There have been hours of gymnastics a day trying to perfect that cartwheel followed by attempts to walk across the living room on her hands.  Dance class learning the difference between ballet first position and jazz first position. The joy of swimming under water with goggles and high fives from swim instructors. Just one more roller coaster. One more spin in the teacups. The books. Oh, the books. Reading into the late hours of the night. Weekly visits to the library to swap out their haul and log their minutes. Audio-books: The Indian in the Cupboard, fairy stories, and Encyclopedia Brown. Evenings on the sofa with the fan blowing on us as we watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, again.

Target is screaming at me that school will be starting soon with its piles of black and white speckled composition books and Ticonderoga #2s, but I am trying desperately to remember that we have five full weeks of school before our everyday is altered and two of my three will be gone all day long. I take all three to VBS this week and as I watch them sing their Jesus songs I stop myself from sobbing, stuck somewhere in the beauty of kids learning and happy and the wondering of what I am going to do when I grow up when it is three leaving me all day, just one year from now.

They tell us not to blink, before we know it those baby years will be gone and we will wake from our exhaustion induced stupor and look into the eyes of children who are far older than we realized. That moment hit me in the first few days of summer when I traded in a tattered six year old diaper bag for just a tote, emptied of pull-ups and anything that could easily identify me as the mother of young ones. My cupboards don’t hold a variety of sippy-cups and everything feels fast and too soon.

These are the days sprinkled with magic. Three girls. My ride or die. Hands, much larger than I remember, tucked inside mine as we walk across streets on search for one more summer adventure. Jumping on the trampoline at dusk with glow sticks flying and Stevie Wonder filling the air. Counting fireflies and asking for just five more minutes. Days when it’s fun to play with the friends we miss but mom and dad are just as good, if not better.

This is the summer I don’t want to end. The one I’ve tucked inside my heart and not on Instagram. Here’s to five more weeks of laughs and learning. Five more weeks of sticky fingers from melting ice cream and overripe peaches. Five more weeks of dirt under fingernails and van floors full of sand and woodchips. Five more weeks of lazy mornings and late nights. Five more weeks of soaking in the goodness.

Five more weeks.