reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


1 Comment

clear as day. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

it’s a little foggy. childbirth is like that. cloudy memories.

in the stunning way of time – and how it flies – it has now been thirty years. today.

my baby boy was placed in my arms thirty years ago. it’s astonishing. i remember everything and i remember practically none of it – it is all blurry.

what i do know – just as i knew in 2020 on the thirtieth birthday of my daughter and the thing that i knew in 1990 my very first day of motherhood – is that it changed my life.

both times.

and every day since.

there is little that can color all your days, for most things are fluid and we roll with it all, hoping there is a next day – to right things, to stand back up, to move on. but motherhood doesn’t play by these rules. if you are worried about your child – regardless of their age or stage – it stays with you. it is – for me – one of the first things i think about when i wake and one of the last things i think about before sleep. it is that which will keep me pondering in the night. it is that which will find me deep in thought in the day. there is really no stopping it.

so, my sweet momma, now i get it.

all that worrying you did, all that championing, all that abiding silently by and waiting, all those pompoms – i get it.

the last time i saw my own sweet momma she was sitting on the edge of her bed, a little later in the morning than usual, still in her nightgown, going slowly, but – mostly – concerned we were not yet on the road, driving I75 and I65 and I94 back home. i don’t know if she knew that 18 days later she would be on a different plane of existence. she just worried about me…all grown up and, yet, her little girl.

i get it.

these amazing children – now both in their thirties – are still the same people about whom i have always wondered – about everything – from the tiny to the gigantic – if they need snacks, if they are healthy, if they are happy, if they are feeling valued, if their work feeds them, if they feel reciprocal love and care in their relationships. they are forging their way in the world – making a difference that only they could make – shining their own stars – with their own brilliance and their own wit and creativity and humor. life is fluid clay in their hands, fresh silly putty out of the container, playdoh with the most extraordinary cutters and fun factory presses. they are right close to the ages i was when i became their mother. in a foggy blur of time. how does that happen?

the tree seemed to be alone in the field, nothing beyond it. but because we pass that field and that tree often, we know that is not the case. it is just very, very foggy and so we cannot see.

i look back and back and back. i can’t see it all; it is foggy and very foggy and very, very foggy.

but i can feel it.

all of it.

clear as day.

*****

happy birthday, my beloved son.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


1 Comment

12 for $1.00 [two artists tuesday]

they were 12 for $1.00.

but have no illusions. you cannot purchase them in december. at no time – when i have gone searching the stores in december – have i been able to find them. for they are already all gone, scooped up by zealous ornament-gatherers, present-wrapping-embellishers, holiday-magic-creators.

so if you want them – these delicate snowflakes that sort of resemble the ones people used to make of string and flour or glue and glitter – you need to plan ahead. you must be ahead of the curve, at the front line of festivity-planning, your dollar bills in your hand as you troll the stores, scooping.

i purchased numerous packs of these one year. it was a time of transition for me. i had realized that i, actually, didn’t really like tons of bright red and green together and that christmas was fraught with all kinds of stress for so many people, including me, and i just wanted to simplify a little bit.

it started years ago when i decided not to ornament-decorate the tree. we kept it a little more natural with just white lights and it felt serene when – late at night – we’d turn off the light fixtures in the living room and just sit, keeping vigil with the tree. we are still trying to keep tranquility at the center. i’ve added tiny pine trees – sans anything. we’ve added branches and white lights. and we’ve added snowflakes and silver balls.

one of these days i would like to have a big retro tree. i’ll add all the ornaments of history to it – a tree full of salt dough stars and bells and paper mache snowmen, treasured gifts from family and friends, former students and choir members, memories to spark stories for hours. though i haven’t hung it in years, i can see the rogers christmas house ice skating ornament clearly in my mind’s eye. and small pine, a reminder of the sweet story my children and i loved.

and one of these days i would like to have another big retro tree. it will be decorated with old delicate mercury glass ornaments of my sweet momma’s and poppo’s. i remember these, as i take them out of the box, like it was yesterday. i remember decorating the tree on abby drive and my dad painstakingly adding tinsel, one strand at a time, christmas carols playing in the background. i was a child and lots of it was magical, but even then i could feel the holiday stress, expectations, frenetic energy.

the last time both of my own beloved children were home together for christmas was 2014. they have been living far and wide on mountaintops and in big cities and, with limited time off, haven’t been able to make it. we’ve celebrated on the phone, on facetime, on zoom, and we watch them open presents from our couch. a couple times we had real-life moments in chicago with our son and last year we sat with him on a restaurant patio, clustered under gas heaters in 17 degrees in january, having dinner and watching him open gifts in a time of pandemic. it is with great anticipation we wait for his arrival later this week, an opportunity to hug on him and his boyfriend.

sometimes i wonder if my children would both be more likely to be home here together if their dad and i were still married. i know that holiday magic might be far less magical in a less-than-perfectly-perfect household. the thought brings sadness to my core. i struggle, just like so many, some who are living “traditional” lives, some in unconventional lives, some in times of challenge and some with everything they ever needed. nevertheless, i – like moms everywhere – want the magic to continue, want the dreamy holiday and the warm cocoon of love and celebration. i want to create the quintessential stuff of snowflakes and big family dinners and gingerbread and sugar plums. and i – like moms everywhere – know that i can only do the best i can.

the stats on a blogsite show the individual blogs that have been read. this morning – the day i am writing this for today – there was a post from 2018. i talked about roots and wings and children and yearning. i quoted my daughter stating that i was “high maintenance” and laughed it off back then, comparing myself in my mind to other moms through the years whose behavior i have witnessed as indeed much higher maintenance. for, though the words of desiderata ring true for all of us “do not compare yourself with others, for you will become vain and bitter….for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself” we still do it. we still compare and measure and wish and feel ourselves come up lacking. i also wrote in that post that if wanting more time with one’s children was high maintenance, then i supposed that the adjective fit. que sera sera.

joyce maynard used to write a column – called domestic affairs. she shared a 1985 column on sunday, writing about the attempt to make christmas perfect and the bitter reality of its imperfection and its crazy-making. it is a roller coaster of emotion – this holiday season. and there are times that i sit and wonder, trying to magicalize it for my family, for my children, now adults, who i love with all my heart. i have wanted to help the universe dazzle for their holiday, to make each christmas perfect. yet i know that they won’t be. perfect, that is.

i look around me, around our life. sometimes i think that the raucous sounds of holiday music and cookie-baking and a turkey in the oven and wrap all over the floor are the only things that would make it ideal. and sometimes i know – deep in my heart – that all i want, really, is to love and be loved, to share a little time and know that my presence makes a tiny difference – in the unique way of a snowflake – in the lives of all those i adore.

12 for $1.00 isn’t really all that much. simple.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


1 Comment

the old deck. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

the old boards creak. and, at night – when it is bitter cold out – they pop, like the sound ice makes under your feet on a frozen lake, only not as treacherous.

in the summer he replaces the deck screws that have risen, stubbed-toe-tripping-hazards, worry about dogga’s paws. in the winter it is clear of all summer amenities. with just the old wooden glider and chair left, it is sans wrought iron, sans outdoor rugs that define its space, sans umbrella shielding our eyes from the sun while we dine, sans old door and happy-hour two-step ladders that hold wine glasses, sans fire column, sans record player, sans lavender and lemongrass. to look outside at the deck – even without snow – it is obvious that winter is approaching, the starkness is blatant and a little sad. we speak of a tree for out there and, if we go to the forest to cut one down we may cut down two and place one outside so that we can see it – lit – from the window.

the old deck has gone through many iterations, first built – by a dad and a grandpa – to help keep tiny toddlers safely playing – a railing all around and gates. a bright plastic little tikes picnic table anchored one end, with a round wrought iron table and chairs on the other end. back then, it was a place for snacks and bubbles, matchbox cars and babydolls, a turtle sandbox, and children dancing to a fisher-price cassette player.

the toddlers, past toddling, grew fast and, eventually, the railing and the gates were removed and the deck, still with the same wrought iron table, was open to the backyard, easy access to the swingset and the fort and, then, the basketball hoop.

years later, with the addition of the stone patio, it would be the place people would gather – for fourth of july barbecues, for the-big-dig day of the pond, for slow dance parties, for pre-wedding gatherings, gatherings for any reason. the old wrought iron table, another coat of rustoleum black paint, still holding vigil for food and gaiety.

and then, since it had no railings, it became the perfect place for ukulele band. folding metal music stands and bag-chairs, edge-of-deck-sitting, clothespins and laughter, there was no stopping the fun, the music-making and community, and, after, all would gather around the old wrought iron table and gnosh on schnibbles everyone brought along, to prolong time together.

during covid the deck became a place of comfort, a necessity for peace of mind. we slowly researched and watched for sales and added pillows and rugs and an umbrella-that-made-all-the-difference for dinners around that old wrought iron table, a little decor and some clay pots and plants for our outside sanctuary. we took refuge there, from cold days to the return of cold days – outside as much as possible.

and now, the deck is blank again, save for the snowflakes. the old wrought iron table and chairs are carefully stored in the garage and we can hear the boards pop and crackle from inside the sunroom and from here, sitting on the bed, writing this – the grey day outside begging for sun, the old deck waiting to see just how we might holiday-it-up.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


1 Comment

this. a happy swiss cheese plant. [d.r. thursday]

there is a magazine i look at most every day. it is a simple-magazine publication and features container gardens of all sorts. each time i page through it i see something new, get ideas, wonder about unique re-purposing, changing old typewriters or baskets into succulent planters or large-animal feed scoops or galvanized tubs into fence pots. the photography shows beautiful plants in all seasons of growth and it makes creative juju pick up pace.

we walked slowly through the daniel stowe botanical garden with our daughter and her boyfriend, enjoying every second. the greenhouse was steamy and we got misted as we walked. gorgeous orchids punctuated the tropical plants. we stopped to read information, take pictures, admire textures and the colors that looked like dr seuss had taken crayons to everything.

the monstera deliciosa (or aptly-named swiss cheese plant) captured our attention. nature has a way of making sure that rainwater and dew are properly retained yet the leaves are not perpetuating algae or molds, fungus or disease. amazing. instead, waxy fronds or holey swiss-cheesed leaves let the droplets roll off, keeping them open to sunlight. each plant has its own system for balance, all depending on its ever-changing circumstances.

the day at the garden was over too soon; visiting is like that. there were only a few days and it’s hard to fit months and months of not-seeing into bits and pieces of 72 hours.

i now know why my sweet momma always had lists when i called or visited with her. there were things she wanted to know, needed to know, that she didn’t want to forget to ask. there were tiny and big questions about my daily life she wondered about – the extraordinary and the mundane, my feelings about things happening in the world, curiosities she had about my comings and goings and adventures and challenges and transitions. she just simply wished to hear my stories, have a window into my life. without being too invasive, without crossing the ever-changing-invisible-tightrope-line, she wanted to share in it, be a part of it. i get it.

kc, my bonsai gardenia plant, is difficult, “one of the most loved and challenging plants”. i never know if i am watering her enough or too much, if her brown-edged leaves are due to too much attention or too little attention. she has not had a bloom, though she did have two hopeful buds. she is not easy, but she is beautiful and particular and i am determined. charlie, my heart-leaf philodendron, the other plant that was also a lovely gift from my beloved daughter, is easy. she grows no matter what. she is healthy and thriving. she is green and lush and i can practically see her smiling. charlie is the opposite of kc. treasured plants on our garden table in ever-changing light and seasons as they grow, so much like the diversity of real living, i talk to them every day; i appreciate and adore them. they are lessons.

and it occurs to me that these two beautiful plants, both on the table in our sunroom, are – indeed – the spectrum definition of motherhood, the nature of every single cherished relationship, the easy-hard, the fragile-resilient, the holding-on-letting-go, bursting blooms and foliage or the missing of blooms, the learnings, the balance of unconditional love. perhaps a good addition would be this happy swiss cheese plant, a reminder to let it all roll off and keep on keeping on.

no wonder my momma had so many plants.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


1 Comment

wishes. [k.s. friday]

right now – in this quiet early morning – i can hear the chippies at one of the birdfeeders. there’s a certain metallic sound as the seed, disbursed by scrambling tiny feet on the edge of the feeder, hits the metal chipmunk-squirrel-prevention plate below. i’m pretty certain the chippies giggle every time they jump from there to the edge of the feeding trough. there is an abundance of seed in this feeder and they know it, returning time and time again to fill their adorable cheeks, run off, run back, jump, giggle, gorge, run off, all on repeat.

that is what i wish for my children, the imperative: an abundance of seed. to know that there is always more out there for them: more possibility, more to learn, more adventure, more challenges, more successes, more love. to always know that they are rooted and capable. to always know acceptance and compassion and support and fairness. to know that they can be confident in the world, always. to know that, whether they need it or not, i will always be their biggest fan and will always hope for their biggest and littlest wishes to come true.

i knew, even as an adult, that my parents were cheering me on. i knew that they did the hard work of letting go as i moved away. i knew that they were ever-present – and still are. i knew they wished all good things for me and held steadfast during all hard things. their love was a perennial birdfeeder, infinity-abundance-filled and there whenever i needed it.

i used to text both of my grown children every night to say goodnight. somewhere along the way it was brought to my attention that this might be a tad bit annoying. though i, personally, would adore hearing from my sweet momma every single night – especially now – i realized that she would also have respected it had my desire been for her to not continue this practice.

i stopped my goodnighttext practice, but i didn’t stop my goodnights. they are now just simply silent kisses blown in their direction, like dandelion fluff on the wind. infinity-floating and always here.

*****

I WILL HOLD YOU (FOREVER AND EVER) from AND GOODNIGHT ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

download music on my little corner of iTUNES

stream on PANDORA

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


1 Comment

a beginning. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

no book on menopause or post-menopause – that i have read thus far – really prepares us. i haven’t found a steponesteptwostepthree-handbook on how to sort this. the phases of a mom’s life intersect and overlap and are messy and as full of emotional upheaval as they are full of gratitudes for blissful. every piece, in my own messiness-of-this, is sticky and pulls at every other piece, like marshmallows in hot-off-the-bonfire s’mores. no matter the professional pursuit, the hobby, the exercise, the diet, the zen-yen, it is all interwoven with the loss of mom-identity, the constant babystep-by-babystep redefining of relationship with one’s children and one’s self.

of early days of motherhood, anne morrow lindbergh in “gift from the sea” wrote essays sparked by seashells, “eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace, to let the pitcher fill up to the brim.” she is the “still axis within the revolving wheel of relationships, obligations, and activities.” in a metaphoric nod to the shell argonauta, anne paints the picture of the mother argonaut floating to the surface and releasing the young, then floating away to a new life. sailors, she says, consider this shell “a sign of fair weather and favorable winds”. yet, she muses, “what does the open sea hold for us? we cannot believe that the second half of life promises ‘fair weather and favorable winds’.”

it is a total reorientation. it takes time to re-find the center of gravity. true center. even with a child of 32 and a child of 29, i find this not to have been or be instantaneous. one does not click off the light-switch, or touch the base of the 1980s brass touch-on-touch-off lamp, turning off the questions of identity. it’s the yarn of a new cape, from mom (and all the other titles) to woman (and all the other titles).

“whether we’re talking about giving up baby clothes, toys, artwork or schoolwork, the issue is not mere sentimentality. it’s about letting go of our children. […] we think that keeping all of those things will let us keep a little of each child who left us.” (claire middleton – “the sentimental person’s guide to decluttering”) i would guess that, even in my intentional attempts to set wind for their sails, my children would cite my fierce hanging-on to them. at the least, they would attest to my quiet weeping at their leaving, each time they leave.

i clean out the house, clean out one thread of four decades of career, glance at my piano – always whispering to me “don’t forget this is who you are too”. i write, i cartoon, i write more. and then, more. i think about composing – new simple feathers of music, pieces that would float in breezes and find center. i sit in quiet. i wonder.

is this an identity crisis?

“but there are other beaches to explore. there are more shells to find. this is only a beginning.” (anne morrow lindbergh)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


Leave a comment

vine-climbing. [merely-a-thought monday]

the 1977 graduating class of john glenn high school chose this song as our theme song. before the decision and ever since, it has remained a favorite. seals and crofts dominated our senior variety show – the one for which i wore a full wet suit including fins and played a piano duet -, our graduation, our prom, our yearbook. they played over and over in my bedside cassette player, on radio, on stereo systems throughout elwood and, likely, everywhere.

“so, i wanna laugh when the laughing is easy.

i wanna cry if it makes it worthwhile.

i may never pass this way again,

that’s why i want it with you…”

(jim seals, dash crofts – we may never pass this way again)

just last week jim seals died. he was 80. and suddenly, again, time flashes in front of us.

because somehow, listening to their music, i am back at 17 or 20 and they are in their early to mid thirties. but the years come and go and the journey keeps journeying, faster and faster it seems.

and so the moments and presence become infinitely more important and the stuff becomes less. the grand illusion of foreverness becomes foggy and we learn – little by little – sometimes, though, with ferocity – that we must be-here-now. we graduate and grow and regress and grow again and start to see that full spectrum is not so bad – that belly-laughing and weeping are both, indeed, necessary and that as we vine-climb from dirt to sky we are only really here to be with each other.

our beloved daughter was here for a couple days. any time we see her or our beloved son are those kind of rare-gift moments. we giggle and poke fun and talk and reminisce and ponder and there’s eye-rolling and i am astounded by them and, always, i cry upon their leaving or upon our parting. it is the hard part.

i know that we just never know. life has a way of teaching us that – again and again – though it is easy to forget, to push it aside. but the further up the vine we get, the more we recognize it. it is all so fragile. we may never pass this way again. simple. true. a calling, an imperative to say the stuff, to be vulnerable, to experience, to love, to acknowledge, to laugh, to cry, to be-with.

good choice of song, jhghs.

“all the secrets in the universe

whisper in our ears

and all the years, they come and go

and take us up, always up…”

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


					
		
	


1 Comment

spirograph on deck. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

we are surrounded by people with grandchildren. there are tiny babies, toddlers, pre-teens, teenagers. we are ‘of the age’. it would seem that each and every day there is yet another announcement on social media of a new grandbaby-to-be, a gender reveal party, a baby shower, a birth of a tiny being into this great big world. my biological grandma clock is pokin’ at me, but, alas, this is not within my control. at all. these are important and very personal decisions; each of us has to decide what is individually right for us. and so, we’ll see. no matter our age, we celebrate our children living their lives.

and so, we watch others as they enter the glee-filled world of grandparenthood. they amass toys and sleeping provisions and high chair options and read books about the newfangled ways small babies learn to eat food and they post adorable videos of all the extraordinarily ordinary moments we – as parents – didn’t have time to notice. they go to the closet in the hallway or in the family room and gaze up at the tinkertoys and legos and trouble game and candyland and the saved baby dolls and barbie dolls and matchbox cars and crayons and stickers and markers and coloring books and they get dreamy looks on their faces as they ponder all these – once again – in their lives. ahh. what perfection.

we have all that stuff too. it’s mostly in the hall closet, where we’ve always kept it. games and puzzles and crafty things and bebop and a jumprope and jacks and egg coloring kits and pumpkin carving tools and those squishy balls you get all soaky wet to throw and frisbees. all the crayons and colored pencils and markers and glue are upstairs in the cabinet in the office. and stickers. lots of stickers.

there is really no reason we can’t just revisit all that stuff now anyway. i mean, if we are going to practice snack-time, we can spirograph first.

he is such a boy. SUCH a boy. any – and i mean ANY – time i ask him if he’s hungry, he always replies with an emphatic “yes!” like he’s been starving for days and days. snack-time is a driving force, a dominant priority, something he has already perfected. but, hmmm….yes, a carrot easily dangle-able.

i’m guessing spirograph is in our future.

happy mother’s day.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


Leave a comment

the view. [two artists tuesday]

in an effort to grab the moments and store them away so they will be retrievable, i take photographs. i want to remember the physical surroundings, the way it feels, the way it tastes, the way it smells. pictures help me recall the visceral. they are prompts in a memory script. the “remember …” cue.

i didn’t take a picture, but, because there is nothing like an unexpected call from your adult child, when the phone rang in the middle of costco and i glanced at it to see that it was our daughter calling, the moment is indelibly ingrained in my mind. walking toward the exit, standing and chatting near the tires-for-sale, shielding the phone’s microphone from the wind as we walked to littlebabyscion, sitting in the parking lot, dogga in the back wondering what errand adventure was next…these are all part of this wonderful rambling conversation, a joy that topped off my week – a perfect friday early evening – in a way that nothing else can.

the neighborhood eatery was not far from his apartment and as we drove over, our son was in the front, directing me, nagging me about going too slowly, instructing me how to properly drive over the humps in the residential streets of chicago and getting out to check the damage when we were rear-ended at a traffic light (luckily, no injuries and no apparent damage). we discovered the joy of lobster deviled eggs, had the skinniest delectable french fries, sipped mimosas and laughed over brunch. we went to his new place, took measurements, talked about decor. i took many, many photos, my iphone always at the ready. the best belated birthday gift – this time together. nothing else can top it.

i don’t take these moments for granted. our children are adults, with busy, consuming professional lives and significant people to share time with. there’s not a lot of spare time and i get that. they don’t live in town and i don’t get to see them as often as many of my friends see their grown children. “the moment they are born the separation begins followed by a life-long balancing act,” a dear and sage friend wrote about children and motherhood. the perils of parenting.

it is often the people with children in their own town who remind me that we raise children to be independent, wingèd and free. though well-intended, these are easier words, these wisdoms, and less painful when one does not have to tamp down the embers of longing that missing beloveds creates.

i try to “think of life…in all its small component parts.” (anna quindlen) it is, truly and after all, about balance.

so i save every one i can. every moment and conversation, all eye contact and every hug. i take lots of pictures – of them, of me with them, of us with them, of the surroundings, of what is right around me when i am with them. it is a storehouse of riches that i may go to in a self-absorbed minute of feeling scarcity, a reminder that, indeed, life is full, nevertheless. a springboard of deep appreciation.

“exhaust the little moment. soon it dies. and be it gash or gold it will not come again in this identical disguise.” (gwendolyn brooks) glory in either, for we learn the lesson over and over: you can feel it. and they all count.

i “try to look at the view.” (anna quindlen)

the view – that must be why i have twenty-four-thousand-seven-hundred-eighty-eight photos on my phone. twenty-four-thousand-seven-hundred-eighty-eight views of twenty-four-thousand-seven-hundred-eighty-eight moments.

and this one – the open-beamed ceiling of cherished brunch with my son.

gorgeous, in my view.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY