Tag Archiv: voices

Grace. Latest Installment

Purple flowers

After a 4.5 hour drive home from my grandparents, the girls and I arrived home stiff, a little hungry, weary, and grumpy, to find that the apple trees I ordered had finally arrived. If I wanted help, it was time to pick up our order. After lunch and another hour in the car, we had nine trees.

Once upon a time, apple trees lived happily on bedrock in the middle of our pasture, but according to the internet, nowhere on our property met the many qualifications required for ideal planting of apple trees. Nervous, I’ve been waiting for the trees to arrive for weeks now. The weather was pleasant. I tried to be joyful, but voices were in my ears.

“Not enough drainage here.”

“Soil’s not good enough here.”

“Here’s too close to that tree.”

Were these sounds just my fear or were they the last ditch attempts of the robed wizards of appledom to save us from doom?

“We chose the best of what we had. We just want to try,” I squeaked back.

“That’s a lot of money gone when they all die,” came the reply. I pictured somber head shaking.

Planting was a team effort (minus Boy one who was away). I was tense, but my hands were full of life whispering maybe. The voices couldn’t ruin it all, it was fun. Still, they kept the joy of the trees from trumping the weariness of the morning. I headed into the house irritated that there was no way to have dinner made on time. The war of apple hope vs. no apple fear raged on.

The kids had taken off a little earlier. “She’s here! She’s here,” rang out, as I approached. I was escorted up to the girls’ room. A bedspread refashioned as tablecloth, covered the table (made of two stools with a large book bridging the middle gap) the tea kettle sat in the middle. Miniature teacups were all around, except my favorite mug sat at my place. Everyone sat on the floor except me, who was given a bean bag. A plate of crackers and raisins was on the table. “Surprise!” they said.

Girl one put a tiara designed for me on my head, Girl two handed me a bracelet made from all of the new beads they just received from their great grandmother. Boy two handed me a card, “Happy Early Mother’s Day,” it said (in beautiful cursive writing).

I could remember lots of clipped directions and signs that mother’s fuse was growing shorter through the day. I couldn’t remember very many reasons for a surprise, early Mother’s Day celebration.

My tea was served bag in. I smiled. They jumped up and down to give one last surprise. What delighted me most about it was how much I would have hated it, had I not known that they expected me to like it. With love, messy, incorrect, unstable and misdirected, they won me over.

In case you only see ripped up boxes, tape and mess, this is actually a newly designed kitten play maze, with love from the younger three. :)

In case you only see ripped up boxes, tape and mess, this is actually a kitten play maze, designed to be left in the middle of floors everywhere, with love from the younger three. :)

Growing a voice

Young Girl Wearing a White Muslin Dress. By John Singer Sargent, 1885.

Young Girl Wearing a White Muslin Dress. By John Singer Sargent, 1885.

I picked Girl one up from school in tears. What was wrong? I asked.

“I like to sing. None of my friends like it when I sing. I hum a lot when I work. My friends tell me to stop. I like to sing but Boy two hates it. He tells me to stop any time he hears me. Even the teachers are telling me to stop.

I love to sing, but now I have to stop doing it.”

The words came with intermittent sobs and much sniffling.

I just don’t want to stop singing,” she whispered through more tears.

Whatever the facts from the others involved, Girl one was in pain. What to say, I wondered. I believe in the importance of voices. Finding them, using them, celebrating them. I also like to work in silence. No sound (unless it is happening live in nature) is my idea of perfect working space.

When Girl one was two and three she would talk non-stop, especially in the car, no audience required. If she wasn’t talking, she was singing, making up ballads that told all kinds of stories. Now that she is older, she writes some of her songs down. On scraps of paper. In torn up notebooks. We don’t have them all collected. If I could find one, I’d count it a triumph, but I’ve seen a few. Little verses with chorus. At eight, Girl one has a beautiful voice. Other people have noticed it too.

What to do?

I told Girl one about my working habits. How, unlike Daddy, I NEVER listen to music if I writing, or thinking, even though I really, really love music. And how her friends might be like that too. Being asked to be quiet, I suggested, is not the same thing as people hating your voice. Whatever the answer is, it is not to stop singing. The answer is to know when to sing.

We like to read together, what if we start looking for times to sing together? Learn new songs? I have a few minutes right now if you’re interested, I said.

Girl one’s eyebrows touched the top of her head and pulled the rest of her up on tiptoes. I thought she might pirouette.  “I would love that,” she managed. We went to the piano and got out my music. We sang one she knew and worked on two others. I sang the verses with her but let her have the choruses to herself. She poured on her vibrato whenever possible. Fifteen minutes later, I had to get back to dinner. She walked away with little spins.  Her toothless smile began at the torn out- earring- redesigned ear, and didn’t seem quite finished when it hit the other side. “Thanks a lot, Mom,” she said coming back for a hug.


I mentioned being tormented yesterday. A sorry state that. No easy rock to climb out from under. I am of the firm opinion that most all of those who claim to have overcome all demons and arrived on that blissful shore, should be quickly escorted to a cliff and advised to test their theories immediately via a leap (or a shove if need be).  This isn’t that.

I can’t say I don’t hear the voice that says I’ll never make it, it’s hopeless, or whatever other poison it feels like spouting. I have figured out how to keep it at bay (most of the time) but I’ve never found the lifetime mute button. The voices have had all kinds of experiments tried on them. (I either have boredom issues or an ideas generator on overdrive.)  Ignore. Drown out. Divert. Debate. Refute. Redirect. But honestly, my trump card to date has been agreement.

I was keeping this little tidbit to myself (it being absurd because it shouldn’t work) but then I accidentally saw a documentary on changing habits (it is scientifically possible!) and well, you know. I am aware that people with science on their side are the only people more potentially obnoxious than people with religion on their side, but I’ve got to say it anyway. (The voices, see, they have been REALLY aggravating all these years. It’s kind of like a teacher finding a classroom management strategy that actually works. Sometimes you just have to tell someone.)

So, yes, here it is . . .

Scenario 1

Voice: Wow. Tough day. You definitely deserve some serious dessert.

Me Before: Maybe a little.   OR  No, forget it. I’m not even looking at them.  

Result:  A minute later first cookie is nibbled. Twenty minutes later I decide to finish the plate. It is the only way to guarantee that I will stop eating them.


Voice: Wow. Tough day. You definitely deserve some dessert.

Me/ Current Approach: Some? Are you kidding me? I deserve all that and a bottle of wine. I’m starting one hour from this second. 

Voice: It’s sitting right there. What’s the difference between then and now?

Result: Scary soul haunter sounds like nagging children. So toss in a box of ice cream, I’ll be there in an hour, I say. Enough already.

Scenario 2

Voice: You’re such a pathetic excuse for a mother/woman/wife/person/writer

Me:  It’s probably worse than that. I’ll book in some self flagellation later today. At the moment, I’m a little tied up.

Science says that the part of our brain that considers and works towards long term goals needs a little time to kick in. It doesn’t arrive first at the scene. If we want to access the brain segment of good decision making, we have to find a way to buy it a little time. Laughter’s not a bad companion along the way.


Winter is never going to end, says droner.

Indubitably. The sun may also cease to shine.


Yawn. The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be.