The Year We Went To Forest School
I wake at 5am these days. The baby needs me, and I need my time. The space between night and light is confusing. The windows are still black, the clock rhythmic, and the fake candles in the fireplace flicker, unwavering. Baby is warm on my lap, and I write.
My coffee is cold by the time that you, my second son, join me on the loveseat at 6am.
“Are we awake in the middle of the night?” you ask.
“No,” I say. “Just very early morning.”
I can only experience your childhood with my adult eyes. I often feel trapped between who you are now, and who I see in the future. Will you remember these early mornings together, when your outstretched legs could barely meet the edge of the couch cushions? How will the memories be shaped by your faulty consciousness? For, we all see things through a smudged lens.
Today we are talking about “morning hands” because you are furious at the food wrapper that won’t open. You rebuke my comfort so I offer resistance instead, allowing your feet to push into my belly, mindlessly.
I remember to smile at you. A simple smile is sometimes all we need. We are quiet and smiling as the room slowly lightens. I am unready. I want to stay suspended here, balanced on the tightrope between uncertain evenings and daytime demands.
“I got something out of my eye that was bothering me,” you say, arms wrapped around my leg now. “And I’m hugging you because you give me medicine every day.” I soak in your love, gifted with abandon that is as wild as your anger, and say a silent ‘thank you’ to the magic of Zyrtec.
Our little box is unfolding and opening into the day, as the dogs paw impatiently, the third of my children yells from his bed, the first of my children predictably drums his feet thump, thump down the stairs, and the baby needs me again. This year, our box got shaken like a snow globe and we landed in a space of face masks, endless hand sanitizer, and school in the forest. We begin.
So, I’ll try again today. I hope in adulthood, when you remember these moments-if you remember these moments-I hope you know that every morning I woke by 5 and did my best to mother you.
Written by Melissa Lipnick, a writer and artist in Cleveland, Ohio.