When working with grief, there is a tricky balance between allowing for your experience, and letting it color your whole world. If I can stick with just the emotional energy of loss, in the moment, there is a release inherent in the process. However, when I begin to THINK about what it is that is passing on, the story builds, the pain amplifies and sticks, and daily witnessing is tinged with waiting for the other shoe to drop. I confess, this has been happening for me lately in regard to my daughter, and her passing babyhood.

At first just caught in glimpses out of the corner of my eye, the little girl Fern is becoming is now visible at all times, and it is her babyness that whispers by in a momentary glance. As if I actually could, I have been willing time to slow, for little hands and toes to stay small, for words to still tumble off an infant tongue in the language of a babbling brook. I have been trying to grasp at ghosts, heart tumbling down, my eyes following the descent and blind to what is right before me.

Then I read this post recommended by another writer who’s unabashed gushing over the present moment is infectious. Her reflections on the toddler years and how, unbelievably, it just keeps getting better, felt like a reprieve. Like I could somehow banish the dread that Fern is doomed to grow into a grumpy, sassy teenager who hates me and the rest of the world. More on point…it’s ok if she’s grumpy or sassy but please don’t let it be because I screw up as a Mom. Suddenly I am jolted awake and disentangle myself from an imagined future that evaporates. What do I see?

~ I see a 22 month old who just learned how to jump, both feet 3 centimeters off the ground, her joy leaping even higher.

~ She is playing with blocks, still knocking them down, but now stacking them up too. She balances the small ones end on end, with a dexterity that takes my breath away.

~ I hear cackling and I look over to see that she has figured out how to put plastic playskool chickens on her fingers, waving them around in gleeful triumph.

~ Each morning, I am awakened by a little face peering over my shoulder saying, “Mom. Hey Mom. Mom. Mom. MOM.”

~ We try to pick blackberries but they have yet to ripen. I look in my purse and discover six dollars. I say, “We have six dollars Fern. What should we get?” and she replies, “PIE!!!!”. That’s a girl.

~ Somehow she has figured out the universal signs for “MEN” and “WOMEN”, because in any public space I can ask her, “Fern, where are the bathrooms?” and she will lead me straight to one, even if I didn’t see it when we passed by.

~ In the blackberry patch she stands, transfixed, watching a butterfly. I say, “Do you see the butterfly?”. “YEAH! Bly bly! Bly bly!” She points to a bee, “And Zeez! Zizz. Zeez!”

Now she wasn’t a little caterpillar anymore, she was a big fat caterpillar. She built a cocoon around herself, and when she came out she was a beautiful bly bly.


I will give you a boost and you just keep on climbing. I will try to keep up, but when you take flight from the highest branches, I will stay on the ground and I will always watch the skies for a sight of you.

(I am so excited for those who have already signed up for the Bioregional Swap! This is going to be wonderful!)


5 thoughts on “Flutterby

  1. This has so totally expressed so many of the feelings I have towards my little guy growing up! I try so hard to catch glimpses of baby that still linger, but as the days go by he just seems more and more like a little boy. Oi, but I do indeed look forward to our adventures ahead, and I am so excited to see the wonderful person he has yet to become!

    I love all the pictures of Fern, she’s such a sweet little lady, and I’m sure she is delighted to have such a wonderful and lovely momma watching her grow.

  2. perfect expression of this experience in letting go, and having fun while throwing our arms up to the nature of it all. not easy. not easy, but surely the preferred way. olive just asked me this morning if i wanted her to be 3 again. i said no, no way. i want you to grow. if you weren’t growing, i’d be so sad, and have to take you to the doctor to see what was wrong. you have to grow sweet thing. perspective. all perspectives rolled into one 6 dollar pie. yes.

  3. That post you linked to sums it up so wonderfully. I love her description of walking back to the campsite with her daughter: “I feel her fingers in mine, the full moon rising up into the pines like a cosmic lantern, the squirrels chuckling to themselves in the branches above us, and I want only now. The glow that lasts beyond itself. And I have it.”

    Those types of moments get even more plentiful and meaningful as they grow into their own little people, in my experience. I must say, I wouldn’t trade toddler Clover for baby Clover anyday! I think it really does keep getting better 🙂

    Also, I couldn’t agree more when it comes to the hypocrisy of Harmony. That combined with the fact that I thought the photo turned out decent was why I included the headress hipster shot (I knew clever ladies like yourself would pick up on it ;). I was trying to capture the full experience, both positive and negative.

    We’ve gone every year for the past four years mostly because the festival is only a couple of blocks away from our house so it’s pretty fun to be able to just stroll down there and even quickly run home if we need to. My strategy is to just not attempt to take it at all seriously. There’s usually a good band or two playing, Clover likes the hula hoop garden, and the people watching is pretty excellent 😉

    No plans for the gaia festival for us. I think we might be doing the fair on Sunday (also an easy walk). Some friends of ours are putting on a cool bicycle-themed art and music event up on top of a downtown SR parking garage on Saturday which should be fun: https://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=224819504225564

    Hope you guys have a fun weekend, whatever you do, I just wish it would warm back up, I can’t even imagine what it must be like down there in fogsville!

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