Oh. My. Goodness. Hello; it’s been a while. I’m not only back from a recent trip to the east coast, but back into the rhythm of usual island days. I took a break & a long one at that. I barely replied to emails & kept my laptop zipped up for weeks. It was everything I needed, with hands in ink & paper, face outside and turned towards the sunlight. There’s been great laughter & tears, unexpected events like Luke’s knee surgery & the welcoming of sunshine season back to the pacific northwest.
photo credit::sara parsons photography
Attending a birth is an honor, a privilege and a downright amazing experience. Writing a narrative alongside an artist and wonderful friend like Sara is an honor, a privilege and a downright amazing experience.
It’s an honor, today, to be featured on Freshly Picked.
And, today, a bit of unedited writing joining Just Write:
Reality in a Shopping Cart
Hi, I’m Olive. I’m half-big girl and half-baby. I don’t use markers, Olive squawked from the grocery cart, hardly meaning to startle the lady just trying to reach the crackers we’d stopped beside. It’s just something she often does, saying exactly what’s on her mind to anyone near.
She’s been begging for her own package of markers and processing the wax and wane of naptime and eating without a bib. She’s discovered the newness of buckling herself in the stroller, zipping up her own footie pajamas while needing my hand to cross a street or listen to a scary story’s page. Olive longs to be elementary school cool like her big sisters, but wakes each morning sandwiched between us from some late night sneak snuggle mission into our bed.
Most days, she covets the box of big girl art supplies in the bedroom her two older sisters share. She’ll often come down after sneaking in to create with Sharpie, oil pastel and glitter glue. Proud, she stands in the kitchen door until a sister spies the aftermath of marks on a carpet, colors on clothes and fingers. I intervene when the tears come as one of her sisters says something out of the pain from a mess they feel they now need to clean up: Olive, you’re just a baby. Stick to the big wide crayons and colored pencils in your baby art center!
It’s hard to watch three sisters so close in age who at times want to be triplets and other times want to be only-children in a far away land where life is fair and toys left in a secret spot remain safe from the hands of others. And it’s hard to watch Olive stumble along to big girl activities, some she’s ready for and some that come too soon.
I spent the week leading up to Easter talking to Olive about all the things she could draw with markers. I think I’m ready, Mama. I won’t draw all over myself or the pretty carpets of our home, she said. She spoke of elephants and eagles and baby sea otters. Clearly, she had a lot to draw.
Mama, where do markers even come from? asked Olive. I had to laugh, since this is such a testament to the tiny island we live on where shopping mostly means our local grocery store. I bet the Easter Bunny brings them in baskets, I said.
Olive said, smiling, I think the Easter Bunny would want to be my best friend.
So, three and a half years old is magic in make-believe voices, sneakers on the wrong feet and now, for Olive, it’s markers new in a box, first names written in bold Crayola purple, over and over. She’s got a new tag line to use in the grocery aisles, this time hanging from the handle, Hi, I’m Olive. I’m three and half years old. I use markers because I’m a big girl.
Six years ago I carried you for way longer than I had anticipated. Inside, you swirled for what felt like a lifetime on full bed rest and then, as your wit and determination would later show, when the timing was your way, you made your way. You were born on another island, on a prairie, in a kitchen, in a pool, within our Victorian home. Minutes before midnight, with music loud around and our pets looking on, you floated to the top both perfectly and slowly. All this you know; we tell you of this first journey over and over. I know, I never tire of your story of our worlds coming together.
I’ve started to tell my daughters that I’m beautiful. I look in the mirror and with them by my side I say, I look good. Saying so is part of believing so. And when I slip on a bikini to take them to family swim night, I say, I like the print, the shape of the strap and I like how it feels. I still can’t say that I love how I look in a swimsuit, but I’m getting there. Three girls later and the map of lines left on my body speaks to me more than just how I grew to offer them a home inside. I’m far from loving these marks of a changed self. But they trace to my heart and all of what I know is true about worth and confidence.
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A little before halfway through the day, I figured I should do something I’d always been meaning to do. Outside, little wind, full sun and pouffy clouds. Inside, I packed an Olive picnic, knitting project and sunglasses. A usual circling of our minivan for errands and a mocha before I turned down the music and told Olive my plan, Hey, Olive. Want to picnic by the west side lighthouse?
it occurred to me right after I heard, Go!
I wasn’t running just the 10k and not the whole half
as I’d said over and over in the parking lot when asked
I was running the whole 10k,
like last year when I said I was running the whole half marathon
so I ran, proud
like, really ran the whole time
& got my best time ever