It’s been happening more and more over the last year. He shakes off my arm a little bit sooner when I put it around his shoulders. He rolls his eyes a little bit more at my silliness. He doesn’t need as much of me as I need of him.
This weekend the girl and I got a little bit more of him than we’re usually allowed at one time as we set out to hike Lower Macleay to Pittock Mansion. Just two kids, the dog, a mom and time.
Time for the two of them to talk uninterrupted for hours with no noise, no devices, no distractions.
Time to start low in the fog and then break out above it.
Time to wander 100 feet to our right and get the view that they had worked so hard for.
Time for that 12 year old boy to grab my hand a couple of times during our slippery walk…like he wasn’t even thinking about it. Like when he was my little boy. I guess some habits are harder to break than others.
I brought along some friends with me as I start my walks of Portland stairs. Two of us don’t like climbing stairs…can you figure out which two?
The girl and I made our way down and back up 131 stairs at Mount Tabor’s Reservoir Stairway…
…before heading on over to Laurelhurst Park for some more steps…88 to be exact.
As we journey from here to there, up and down and around, I wonder where do the steps that we take lead us?
I had one plan when Ki and I left in the pouring rain for our hike: Let her lead. It must be frustrating to know there is something to your left that you want to smell or pee on, only to be yanked by your human to the right. She checked with me the first few times to see which way I wanted to go, but eventually realized it was her day to make the decisions. Several times she surveyed the situation and seemed to realize that although it would be easy for her to go barreling down and through some obstacles…
…it was not an easy option for an upright, so she stayed mostly on the trail.
We slid our way through some mud pits…
…that led us to a very big bird…
…who let us get much closer than I had hoped for before he decided we looked like trouble…
…and as all dogs will tell you…if you leave it up to me, I’m never leading you back to the truck, let’s keep playing!
So, eventually I had to take over and directed our way back, but I’m better for having let her take over for the day. Sometimes we get so caught up in doing things our way that we need to take a step back and see if another way might be better. It’s hard to loosen the reins…whether it is in walking the dog, raising our children, how we keep our house, the path we think our relationships should be heading down, the way we think other people should behave…
We seem to be most comfortable when we have some perceived control over the situation, when in reality that control is often a jail. I offer this thought today – think of one thing in your life right now that you feel the need to control. Now loosen your grip…even just a little, but as much as you possibly can…and see if you don’t start to see some peace that you didn’t expect.
There once was a woman named Julie.
She got grumpy with people’s tomfoolery.
To the river she ran,
Rocks and pebbles in hand.
To find birds acting peculiarly.
Today seemed just made for some foot stomping and irritated pouting, so rather than let the ball of frustration choke me, I headed to the river to sit on a rock – and with the prompting of my friend, Kaylea, to throw rocks. And that was my plan…aggressively throw rocks until I beat away the grumpies. But then I got to the river, found the perfect unpooped on sitting boulder and proceeded to be amazed as two geese came zooming in from my right to absolutely and beautifully skid to a stop on the water directly in front of me. The perfection and the timing and the lighting and the way the sun sparkled off the spatter took my breath away and I never even thought to pick up a rock after that. I am certain I must have intently watched ducks and geese at some point in my life, but their ducking and bobbing and chasing and take offs and skidding had me completely mesmerized today. The longer I watched their odd ways the more I realized it wasn’t odd to them at all, they just were the way they were. Just birds doing their thing. My people…they’re just people doing their thing, too.
I needed to be reminded of that.
Wrapped up like a burrito in my oldest softest most threadbare quilt this morning and warming my hands with my hot mug of ink black bean water, I stared out the window as the sun gently woke up. As she lightened the sky, it was confirmed. Today was not to be a staying inside kind of day. It was a get out and get chilled kind of day. A stay out of the shady forest so the sun can try to warm you kind of day. I had heard there was a river otter and some egrets down at Oaks bottom this past weekend, so that is where I headed, husky in tow.
We made our way back to a swamp viewing deck where I called out rather too loudly (to his liking) for an old guy to tell me if the water had any treasures for us today. He motioned me to shut the bloody hell up and then welcomed me to quietly join him and we spent the next 20 minutes watching a very active river otter doing his thing. Mostly somersaults. Then hanging out on a log.
Ki tired of the quiet sitting rather quickly, so off we went again to follow the sun…
…as it led us to the mural…
…and eventually turned around…
…to head back home to the warmth of that quilt and to dream of what tomorrow might bring us.
As I embark on my third week of this quest to use alcohol wisely (meaning I have chosen to give it up for now), it hit me today that the reason I’ve never abstained for long periods of time before is because life is simply too heartbreaking to not occasionally numb it in some form or another. Food, drugs, alcohol, busyness – it’s all to take away the burdens that pile on us daily. I know this is nothing new – everyone knows this to be true in their own lives in one form or another, but this weekend hit especially hard. I had become so anguished at the horrendous behavior of fellow parents, that the tears flowed and my defeat set in at the hands of this cruel world. At first, just a heavy weight of knowing this world is so very messy forced my shoulders to hunch over in sadness as if trying to protect my heart from further attacks. Then it became anger and self righteousness as I saw the people involved as pure evil and could not venture further to think of them as anything but the situations they presented.
So today…I walked and walked and walked. And on this journey, the trees and leaves and dirt and all the forest smells calmed my ragged breathing and cleared my head and started to erase my self righteous point of view until I remembered that sometimes the emotional burdens placed on you by witnessing humans hard at work in their own burdened lives are so heavy that only nature can bring you back. No alcohol required.
My daughter has been a mama’s girl from the start. Where I go… she goes. Where I sit…she sits closer. Where I go to find peace and quiet…she joins me. Some days that is hard, but most days it fills me up. What she really wants is my time and attention.
All of it.
Some days I’m giving of that time and attention and other days it almost feels like an unbearable pressure. Remember those hard days when your kids were toddlers and you could barely comprehend that you would actually make it through the day and then it’s night and they fall asleep and you stare at them and your eyes fill up to overflowing and your heart feels like it will explode because you love them so much and finally you get to go to bed and hopefully sleep at least a few hours and then you are ready to start all over again the next day?
It doesn’t end…I’m thinking… until they leave the house at age 18…or 30. And you know what? I’m so very ok with that, because the truth is that nothing amazes me more than my children and how much they just want my time…my attention. They want to be with me more than anyone else in this world. That truly amazes me.
So even though I didn’t really want to drag out the bikes, pump up the tires and take my precious child to the vicious streets of crazy texting-while-driving Gladstonians this evening, I did it anyways. And I was given the gift of finally being able to say hi to the old man on the bike. From my car, I’ve watched this man ride his bike what seems to be every single day for the last year or more – through the Fall colors, through the cold temps and wet days of Winter and now into Spring again. There he is – no helmet, a determined look on his face, and not following a single rule of the road. I always want to yell out my car window “Hello there, Sir, what a fine day it is for a ride!”, but I am always afraid I will startle him, so my window remains rolled up and I just stare as I drive by, wondering about his story. As we approached him from behind today, again I was worried we would startle him, but Mai gave him a firm “on your left” and I pulled up beside him and said, “Hello there, Sir, what a fine day it is for a ride!”…
and I meant it!