New Beginnings

For my firstborn, Kate…

I have this very distinct memory of being in the hospital, nine months pregnant with you and about to give birth. And I was, at that moment, both so very excited to hold you in my arms that I could barely breathe, and unsure that I was ready to be your mother (I believe I actually said “I’m not sure I’m quite ready for this…”).

Ah, but a babe cannot be kept inside, close and warm and protected forever, now can she? And so you were born on a beautiful day in November, nearly nineteen years ago. Today I find myself in a familiar place, these old familiar feelings bubbling to the surface as I prepare to launch you from your place here with me into a new, albeit somewhat familiar, world. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for this…my heart alternately springs up and plummets as I’ve watched your childhood draw to a close. I have been preparing for this moment for years now…ever since I read this awful little piece about how many summers remain that literally left me in a panic. Here I am with zero summers remaining, and I wonder why motherhood has to be filled with so many moments that knock the air from my lungs, so many new beginnings that really only feel like endings to the prettiest story I’ve ever read.

Have you ever watched a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis? A couple of days before she emerges, the chrysalis begins to change. The butterfly’s pattern and color are visible…you begin to see how beautiful she is. The butterfly may struggle but eventually, she will break free. She will warm herself in the sunshine, pump blood into her wings, and then she will fly.  She will catch the wind and float away and be a thing of beauty, a gift, for everyone that is lucky enough to glimpse her. And that is her beginning.

I meant it when I said I was proud of the beautiful human being you have become. I have little to do with that, and you have everything. You have been my gift all of these years. Now I will watch as you go, catch the wind and fly, Kathryn Sunshine. For this is your beginning…

I love you to a depth that words cannot express,


PS At this very moment you are in the room next to me, packing and organizing all of the things for your new life. I hear you say things like “Mom, I cannot get over how cute the pom pom basket is” and “I got  tissues!” and a wave of happiness laps at my heart. I could not be more thrilled for you.

Yet you have the unfortunate luck of being the first child.  I had that same luck. My mother cried, as she left me in the same little town in which I will leave you, in almost the same spot, exactly thirty years ago. I didn’t get it then…to me it didn’t feel like the end.

I get it now.

I will try really hard not to cry.

New Beginnings

There is Always Laundry

It’s the first full day of summer. I’m sitting alone listening to the rain quietly patter the roof and the windows in the kitchen. Sipping hot coffee in the dim light. Poppy is snoring. David is in the shower and the kids are all still asleep.

We don’t have any plans today but Ella is sick so that kind of limits things. They will probably watch movies all day. But they did that yesterday. And the day before. Summertime colds are the worst…

My mind is pregnant with ideas…things I should do…things I need to do…things that would be fun to do…but I feel a very distinct lack of direction. And a very distinct sense that the sand is pouring through the hourglass at an alarmingly fast pace. Only two summers left until Kate leaves…and then William. And then Henry. Poor Ella will be suffocated with my love and affection when she hits high school (which is coincidentally just about the time she’ll start rolling her eyes at me with a fervor that only a teenager can master.)


The rain is coming in more steadily now. I think I’ll sit and listen to it for a while and fold a load of laundry. No matter what, there is always laundry, isn’t there?

Every day is a gift…make it count.

There is Always Laundry

We were together.

I honestly don’t remember a day when I wasn’t in love with you, David Paul.  Some days I wake up and think

Oh my God, he is still here 

because I can’t even imagine why you would stick around with me…and yet there you are.

And for twenty years, you have come back home to me every night. I can believe there were times that it didn’t seem like an entirely desirable option. But you came home anyway, poured yourself a bourbon and walked straight into the fire. Sometimes I think I may have even heard you whistling…

I guess this means we’re really stuck with each other. We’re actually going to make it.

I guess I always knew we would.

Happiest anniversary David.  I would marry you all over again.  Every time, without fail, I would choose you.



We were together.

I forget the rest.

–Walt Whitman

We were together.

Silence Like a Boom

Kate Summer 2016 kjk

It rained last night. The trees bear that in their color…the trees, the grasses and the fields full of blue Chicory flowers and Queen Anne’s Lace.

I turned off, onto the old winding road and drove slowly, trying to avoid holes and making my best attempt to find the smooth patches of dirt among the rippled gravel. She was beside me, but quiet.  The early morning sun flickered through the canopy of trees, and I could feel emotions swell within me.

We aren’t the way we used to be.

We aren’t the same.

When we got to the barn, she began to put her boots on.  I touched her hair, swept it behind her ear and said

“I miss how we used to be.”

And she said nothing.

There was silence that felt like a boom.

I remember once saying that she would outgrow me, but I would never outgrow her.

I think it is happening.

She is outgrowing me.

I didn’t know it would feel like this.

Silence Like a Boom


Kate 15 kjk

I remember those days, those halcyon days, wrapped warmly with you and that big, gentle dog…sitting by the fire…dreaming as you slept.

I remember them like they were yesterday…the sound of the fire…the smell of your downy hair…the way your fingers unfurled when I touched your cheek. The way my heart felt…as though cannons were fired from within.

You are almost grown now…it was not yesterday.

Today you are fifteen years old. You’re better than those dreams I dreamed, you know.

And the cannons…the cannons are still firing, Kate.

Happy fifteenth birthday baby girl…


The Lower Ring

“It will probably be the last lesson in the upper ring.  It’s getting too dark.”

“Oh” I said, a little inquisitively. “I’ve never been to the lower ring.”

“Me neither. It has lights.”

I hadn’t expected the contemplation in her voice. I had expected her to tell me what the lower ring was like, or where it was, or to say that she had been down there once or twice.  I had expected her to be happy about this new experience, however small the change might be. But always, with her, there is a hesitancy…a tentative posture, almost as though she is waiting for me to react before she does.

She left to tack up her horse.

I sat in the quiet, watching the wind ruffle itself through the trees.  Watching the leaves spin to the ground, catching flickers of the early evening sunlight. Watching her graceful figure walk to the upper ring for the last time, until the light shines in our favor again.

The Lower Ring