{PHFR} – These Lovely Fall Days

~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life, as inspired by the women at Like Mother, Like Daughter~

Buckle your seatbelts, folks, because this one’s a long one. Even though the world seems to be ripping itself apart around us – or, perhaps, because it seems to be ripping itself apart – I’ve been savoring the small things around here, treasuring up these ordinary moments of everyday life.

{Pretty}

 Our rosebush, given to us by dear friends when we lost our first daughter, typically begins to bud in March, has lovely blooms through April, May, and June, begins to wither in July, and has lost all its flowers by August. This year, however, it surprised us with late blooms. Aren’t they lovely?

{Happy}

Jonathan was out of town all last week for work (that isn’t happy – but bear with me). Him being gone is pretty rough on two little girls – Katie, especially, whose favorite person in all the world is her Daddy – and last week was no different, BUT we had activities most mornings and visits most evenings, which helped to distract. One friend came to babysit one afternoon to give me some time off (thank you, Becky!), and Alison came one evening to play with the girls before bedtime and catch up with me afterwards. I’m ever-so-grateful to have such quality people in my life.

Also happy: Katie’s budding imagination. She’s constantly devising new scenarios, creating pretend friends, reenacting various things she’s observed or participated in. In the top photo, they’re in a car, driving to the park. (As Jonathan observed, Abby isn’t big on car safety). In the bottom two, she’s playing “BSF,” and she’s the teacher. It’s quiet time, so each kid has a “towel” spread out on the floor, until Katie starts singing. She carefully gathers each towel and places them in a pile on the table, and then they’re off to play on the “playground” in my bedroom, singing all the way.

Happiest of all is the growing relationship between these two girls. They don’t always get along (see {Real}, below), but when they do, it’s precious indeed. I love watching the way they interact, the way Abby wants to be a part of whatever her big sister is doing, the way Katie notices what her little sister needs and rushes to help.

In this photo, they’re watching a tree-climber and an installer upgrade our line-of-sight wireless Internet equipment. We’re now paying the same monthly fee for 8-12 times the speed. Add that to the happy category, for sure!

{Funny}

These girls and their facial expressions. The one of Katie is what I get when I say, “Hey, sweetheart, can you give me a real smile?”

Also funny: this kid with her spoon. She is a big kid, by golly, and she does not need help eating! And so, I balance whatever we’re eating on the tip of her spoon and place it in her hand. Sometimes, she lets me help guide it to her mouth, but just as often, she insists she can do it herself. For being pre-verbal, she has clear desires, and is becoming ever-more proficient at letting us know what they are.

(We have the opposite problem with her big sister: despite wanting to do pretty much everything else herself, Katie often insists she needs help eating.)

Katie’s an imaginative kid, but she’s also practical. We’ve had conversations in which, after a series of questions about the world she’s conjured up in her head, I’ll ask one question too many and she’ll respond with an all-knowing voice, “No, Mama. That not happen cuz this all ‘tend.”

Her practicality often necessitates tangible items for her play. She can’t imagine a bottle – she must have some physical object to use. She can’t nurse Baby while wearing her footie pajamas, because Baby can’t get to her nipple. And, if she’s going to take proper care of her assortment of animal and doll friends, they all need diapers. That require regular changing. I found this stash in her room recently (which I covertly unfolded and put back in the nursery for future use). Each one had a cloth wipe carefully folded inside.

{Real}

I give to you, “Sisters, A Series”:

Like I said, I love watching their budding relationship. But a part of any sibling relationship is learning how to share, and me-oh-my can that be a difficult process. Turning Abby so she couldn’t see Katie’s toy seemed to help a bit, but it wasn’t long before the entire series repeated itself.

Also real: some (many?) days with littles are … challenging … and you send your husband text messages like the one above, just for the sake of garnering a bit of sympathy and maintaining your sanity. On such days, you might herd everyone (even the dog!) outside for a walk, despite the five million things on your to-do list. Your three-year-old might throw a tantrum when you ask her to put on her shoes, and the one-year-old might join in the yelling for solidarity, but you’ll eventually make it out into the beautiful fall air. Along the way, you’ll collect leaves and rocks in a little wagon. You’ll sing and you’ll laugh and you’ll marvel at how very big and how very little your daughter is as she runs down the path in front of you. You’ll take some deep breaths and remember that this, too, shall pass. You’ll try to forget the chores and the lists, the tantrums and the frustration, to just be present with these girls on this path under this sky, and, for a moment, you’ll succeed. You’ll return home, cajoling the three-year-old up the big hill by playing a game with her shadow, narrowly avoiding a disastrous end to a lovely walk. The baby will fall asleep as you turn into your driveway. You’ll enter the house, still with its lists and its chores. More fussing and more tantrums will happen, but somehow, those few moments of beauty, of peace, of connection, will pull you through.

And, in the end, this is what real: these days are a mix of hard and of easy, of good and not-so-good. They are moments of peace and joy all jumbled together with moments of frustration and exhaustion. Motherhood – life – is not all one thing or another, not all beauty or all loveliness or all enjoying every moment, not all tantrums or diapers or loneliness. It is all these things – and more – together, simultaneously, overlapping each other, weaving through and in and around each other.

Those are the {pretty, happy, funny, and real} moments around here this week. How about you? Capture any contentment lately?

Family and Parenting, This Thing Called Life

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2 Responses to {PHFR} – These Lovely Fall Days

  1. Jamie says:

    That picture of Abby in the butterfly shirt is priceless! Thanks for sharing those real moments! Also hoping the fires in Northern California aren’t too close!

    • Jenn says:

      Thank you, Jamie! None of the fires were close enough to threaten our home, but they did affect our community (though not in the same ways that those in Napa/Sonoma have been hit). Thankfully, those in our area seem like they’re mostly under control at this point.

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