Category Archives: Raising a Humanist

backyard magic

There is an ancient oak tree in my back yard.

At its base, it looks to be over four feet in diameter.

Six or seven feet up, there’s a hole.  A hole, if it were slightly bigger, that would prompt me to look about for a large toadstool and place my rump upon it in hopes it would be so hot that I would just know the lost boys were down there cooking their supper.

Today, in that hole, was a squirrel.

Rooting around for grubs and nuts no doubt.

It made me realize that until today, I had never witnessed in real life, that quintessential image that fills the illustrated pages of children’s books:  A squirrel peaking out from the hole of a large tree.

I’m not sure I realized that it was an image that happened in real life.  Just in folk tale pictures.  But there it was, out my window.

Next, I expect I’ll see a fairy living in my birch tree ring.

I would Die for You

I walk around with fear in my heart.

It can’t be helped.  I’ve tried.  I can’t get away from it.

Of course I’m happy and spend many joyful days, but I’m also anxious.  I worry.  And I scare easily.  Just Monday, walking home from the local Memorial Day parade, two fighter jets flew so low that my heart stopped.  The last time I heard that sound was the day after 9/11 when the skies were supposed to be quiet, and all I heard were the jets at midnight and I raced to the window hoping it wouldn’t be my last moment on earth.  I worry.  It’s what I do.  So when these jets flew over head, my heart stopped.  And then they flew on, and I laughed with my mom, and hid the tears bursting from my eyes.  I was so scared that I cried.  Over a couple of low-flying planes on a bright summer day.  And don’t even talk to me about the last time I went on a log flume.  Like I said, I get scared.

So, yesterday, I worried a lot.  With Do-bug at school, a dark sky, and tornado watches in an area I thought would never see such devastating storms, I barely got anything done.  The fear was too strong.  I worked intermittently, with one browser window glued to the storm tracker, and I’m not sure I was productive in anything.

To ease my tension, I joked about the unexpected along with everyone else.

But I also had run to the grocery story for water and cans of food and checked with Do-Bug’s dad to make sure he had a plan for shelter for the two of them.

Then, an hour later a friend posted this video.  My heart didn’t stop.  It raced.  And I raced to the phone.  I knew my dad was at a meeting somewhere.  And sometimes his meetings are in Springfield.  Springfield, where a Tornado had just touched down.

I got him on the phone at a restaurant at the exact same moment that my mom logged into facebook to find me:

We were all okay.  For now.

Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending for my family.  We’re all okay.  Our homes are too.  They never touched down on the North end of the Pioneer Valley.  And in Nashua, well, we barely even saw rain.

But this morning I heard about the mother who sheltered her teenaged daughter in the bathtub.  Her daughter is alive although in the hospital.  Her mother didn’t survive when their house collapsed.  I was driving when I heard this.  I cried.  It was hard to drive.  I cried tears of relief that we are all okay.  Tears of grief for this family who is not okay and the many others who are not okay.

And then I realized something incredibly important.

I would die for my child.

I never knew this before.  It is a relief to know this.  Because I can’t stop her heartache with a hug and a nurse anymore.  And I can’t predict that she will remain as healthy as she is now.  And I can’t predict that the U.S. will remain a country where I can walk down the street and be 99% sure that I am safe.  But if the time comes when I need to protect my child’s life with my own, I will do it without hesitation.

There is comfort in this knowledge.

That love can give life.

f**king fire alarm, oh how i love thee

i love the way thy little green light blinks to say you will sleep safe tonight

i love the way thou dost blend in so well with my off white ceiling

i love the way thy battery only dies at 5 in the morning

i love the way thou dost bleep every twenty seconds to tell me thy battery is dead

i love the way thou didst wake up my daughter with thy bleeping so she decided she needed to nurse which means i had to spend an entire nursing session listening to thy ear-piercing bleeps

i love how scary it is to pull out thy battery because if i don’t pull fast enough thou wilt do much more than bleep

i love how no matter how many homes i’ve lived in and how many times thou hast done this to me, i never think to have batteries in the house that are sized just for thee

and most of all, i fucking love how thou dost interrupt my sleep

originally written and posted on my momblog in October 2007.  given last night’s wake-up call and the ear-piercing chirping to which i dozed for the next 4 hours, i thought it was time for a re-post.