I am guilty, from time to time, of trying to be an architect of memories, thinking that if I arrange the art project just so or if I plan the adventure out with care, then I can slip moments in time in each girl’s heart that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. I work at creating these moments like a puzzle, turning ideas in my mind, sorting options, and then putting my head down until I make the pieces fit. The weight of wanting, needing, to nurture memories can be tremendous. Every once in a while something happens and I am completely awestruck by how the girls are memory tenders themselves.
“Hey mom, can you wake me up early to work on the borrower house out back?” Briar asked me as she slipped her glasses from her face and set them on s shelf.
“Sure, how early?” I asked.
“I don’t know, maybe like 3o minutes?” she was already sleepy, her face sinking into the pillow. I kissed her forehead and said I’d see her in the morning.
“The girls too?” she murmured.
“The girls?” I asked.
“Yes, will you wake the girls early too so that we can play together?”
“Sure,” I whispered.
It felt like minutes when my alarm rang. I padded to her room and crawled into bed with her. I wrapped my arms around her and she turned and pretzeled right back into me. Nuzzling her forehead I told her that it was time to wake up. She burrowed for a bit, before finally lifting her head and mumbling, “Is Ave up?”
I chuckled and told her not yet. “Get dressed and have something to eat and then I’ll get Ave.” She rolled over in bed clenching her eyes shut. I waited. She was still, birds celebrated another morning outside her window and the scent of lilac wafted through the screen. Then it came, a long stretch induced moan as she pushed her legs out, straightened her arms, and swung her body up with a flourish. She stared at me, inadvertent duck face as she pushed away sleep.
“I’m going,” she said as she walked to her closet. I went downstairs and poured a cup of coffee. She came down ten minutes later and set about making herself breakfast. I went upstairs to wake her sisters. Ave was up like a rocket, Finley on the other hand, was not to be roused. A pattern of 3am wake ups had her sleeping hard to make up for lost time. I let her be.
As I walked downstairs I heard them conspiring.
“Ok, so you find the clovers and I’ll bring the goblets and the string. We can make a path and a bathroom.”
“What are you guys talking about?” I asked.
Without so much as a look at one another they chirped, “Oh nothing,” and scooted out the back door. I watched them scurry around, tucking stray tendrils behind their ears and calling to each other. They’d been building, for weeks now, a space beneath their tree fort amid the gnarly roots of the pine tree, a kind of outdoor community for borrowers. They placed “special tools” in clear view for the borrowers—a ten-penny nail, “to protect themselves from predators,” a scrap of tulle “to make a petticoat.” It all took me back to my own childhood and searching for fairy blankets in the morning.
Eventually I had to call them in, “Briar, you need to be at the bus in about five minutes. Come get packed up, please.”
They rushed in and Avery said, “I could go with Briar, she could ride my electric scooter and then I could ride it home.” I furrowed my brow and told her that there wasn’t enough time. As Briar struggled to zip her backpack, I knelt down and offered to help. “You’re going to have to hurry, Briar.” She nodded and promised to run.
Ave looked sad and so I said, “You can still walk Briar to the bus, grab some shoes.” She sprinted to the other room and crammed her feet into Crocs. I held the door and she ran down the stairs. Briar was already down the driveway. She looked up at me stricken. “Run, you can catch her, honey,” I called down.
She sprinted down the drive, but Briar was already around the corner. When Ave turned around her face was crumpled, tears streaming down her cheeks and her mouth open in a silent scream. Lately they’d been sparring so often, I’d almost forgotten the presence of sister worship.
“Ave, babe, it’s ok,” I called and I walked toward her. She made a keening sound. I wrapped my arms around her, “Honey, it’s ok. I’m sorry she ran, she wasn’t running from you. She needed to catch the bus.” Her mouth stayed open as if if hurt too much to close. I rubbed her back and kissed the top of her head.
“Hey, you know what? Can I tell you something?” I asked. She nodded into my chest, then moved her head back to look at me.
“Last night Briar asked me to wake her up early so that she could play out back, then she asked me to wake you and Fin up.” She looked unimpressed. “This morning when I woke her up she asked me to wake you up. She wanted you to be with her, she didn’t want to do the borrower stuff without you. Your name was the first word out of her mouth.”
She looked at me and then back down the driveway. When she turned back to me her face was radiant. “Mom, can I go do some more things? I want to surprise Briar, and maybe you could wake Fin so she can help me.” Her face was streaked with tears.
I nearly choked on my joy. “I can definitely do that,” I said. She ran toward the backyard and I stayed where I was. The birds continued their song and as the leaves overhead rustled I marveled at the unexpected beauty in the bonds of sisters.
Oh! This made my breath catch in my throat. I can totally imagine the devastation at having missed her sister and the keening. Avery’s decision to turn that around and make something sweet and positive out of it is just so, so beautiful. xoxox
My feet aren’t touching the ground.
Everything about this is beautiful – the words, the sisterhood, the Mama – everything.
Thank you, Shannon, Feeling pretty loved up.
I’ll echo what Shannon said – everything about this is lovely. Neither one of my kids have ever been big on playing pretend, so I’m especially moved by the borrowers’ house.
It’s one of my favorite things about them, Britt. Thank you.
Oh how I love this, Amanda. Sisterly love – it’s something special.
Cannot wait to read the adventures of your sister-on-the-way 😉
Sniff. Sisters. xoxoxo
Days of wilderness, of mucking out horse stalls and picking sheepshire, of sitting on the log fence sharing a thermos of milk and watching the sun set, deep and slow. Playing Castle Keep, streamers on horse saddles, crowns of vines atop whipping blonde sheets of tangles.
City kids don’t even know, man. Only kids don’t, either.
Thank you for reminding me that the roots go deep, and they are infused with magic.
We need to trace back from time to time.
Perfect sweetness. THIS. This is the stuff. THE Stuff.
It really is.
I marvel at how present and awake you are in your life. It’s beautiful and stunning because just as there is so much joy there is equal heartbreak. I so love their project but more so I love their sister bond.
I somehow found your blog and was so instantly struck by the beauty of your writing that I am now a follower. The quality of your writing has inspired me to recommit to my own blog where I often write about my two children. For awhile there I wasn’t feeling like I was really writing when I wrote in that space. Anyways, I love your thoughts and the way you express them. I was curious if you might be willing to share how you carve out time for your blog writing. Do you write when the fancy strikes or do you commit to a few mornings a week, or some other way of making sure to write weekly? Interested to know how you find and make the time, if you are so inclined to share.
Thank you, Chelsea. The time for my writing is kind of unpredictable. Some times I do it after bedtime, sometimes I wake up super early (ouch!), other times I do little snippets throughout the day. The biggest thing for me is that when I have something that I really, really want to write, I say that—to my husband, or my girls, or sometimes to myself. Because the time never just opens up, I have to identify that I want it and claim it. Luckily the effort in trying to make the time doesn’t seem to fray the edges of my posts.
Do you have a blog that you can direct me to?
Thanks for taking the time to share what works for you. You are absolutely right – the time never opens up. I have gotten to the place where I need to write but still finding that time in the middle of so many other things that are important and require my time is still a challenge. I know it always will be this way but it matters a great deal to me so I persist even if I am, at the moment, so far from being prolific. I tell myself that I am keeping my writing up for that day somewhere off in the future when I have much more time to devote to the craft. Thanks again for the inspiration! Your writing really speaks to me, as a mom and a woman.