Saturday, March 19, 2011

Of Fish and Paint

The last time I painted by daughters’ bathroom, I armed myself with a quart of baby blue and another of sea foam green, a mish mash of assorted bright colors and set about converting the space into an indoor seaquarium. Handmade, cartoonish and frankly, quite amateur. But I lovingly painted rainbow fish swimming among green kelp and rolling waves for my girls to enjoy. In the last few years, the fish have faded and the waves seem created by a 5 year old. The talk of the family is when – quick!- can that corny bathroom be painted.

Today, the bathroom is being painted moss green with white trim. Serious. Modern. And oh so grown up. I still refer to it as the girls’ bathroom although only one daughter lives at home. But in some ways, it’s the last vestige of an era gone by.

I suppose it signifies yet another turning point in my life. In all our lives. And today, tired little rainbow fish are painted over by intense moss green. They’re not gone. They’re hidden. And only they and I will know they once were welcomed by two little girls oohing and aahing over mommy’s cleverness. And I will treasure all these things in my heart…

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Still Mom

Last Wednesday morning I was awaken by a phone call from my 24 year old daughter. She wasn't feeling very well and would I mind going with her to the doctor?
I quickly looked at the calendar on my cell phone and mentally ticked off all the appointments, meetings and projects I would cancel because - truth be told, my first obligation today, 20 years ago and 20 years from now, will be to my girls.

Since that day, my child has been tucked into bed in her old room. The walls still have her art work on display; the bookshelves hold her old yearbooks, awards and photos. I can hear her talking softly on her cell phone, and every so often her younger sister and her chat about this or that. My heart soars to hear these familiar sounds once again. Her humming in the shower. Her belly laughs as she watches some quirky online show. Her cough in the middle of the night, which still gets me to rise and go check in on her regardless of the hour.

Yet her body seems to be too tall for her twin bed and every so often she mentions how badly she wants to "go home". I catch myself from correcting her. And I have to remind myself that I already let this one go, saw her fly away before to create her own nest elsewhere.

So I return to guard her sleep; make sure to keep the fever in check, a pot of homemade broth simmering on the stove, gentle reminders to hydrate. And remind myself that I walk on holy but temporary ground. She will soon feel strong enough to pack up her overnight bag, give me an appreciative kiss and disappear back into her grownup world, with the coolness of my hand on her warm forehead a vague recollection.