For my first born…

I watch you grow

Become a person with a mind of your own.

Your successes are a joy to watch.

In school

In relationships

At home

You are amazing.

Your smile radiates as you walk in the room.

Your spirit is wise beyond your years.

And yet…

Your struggles break my heart like they were my own.

Sports, friendships, and academics-

I wish I could make them all disappear.

Your sorrows are my sorrows.

Your challenges- mine too.

My hope is one day we will look back and be nostalgic over these times.

My hope is one day you will succeed in all that you choose.

My hope is one day this will all be small in the grander scheme of life.

But for now…

I am here

With love, support, and guidance.

 

Penny candies & Pepere

He sat in the window seat of the store.

As sure as the sun would rise in the morning and set in the evening, he was in his spot.

The other men were gathered around.

Standing by the soda machine.

Sitting on the window sill.

Leaning against the coolers.

Every evening. After dinner. Before bed.

They would gather. They would talk. Slow, easy conversation.

The weather. The harvest. The fishing. The paper mill.

Anytime mom needed something from the store during those hours, I was the first to volunteer. ANY opportunity to break into that coveted circle of men, was an opportunity I wanted.

I would walk across the street as quickly as my ten year old legs would go. But as I approached the front door, I would catch my breath and nonchalantly open the door.

I would glance up at my dad who would give me a wink.

I would steal a smile from my uncle who stood behind the counter.

I walked over to the milk cooler with purpose. Grabbed that gallon jug and walked back towards the front of the store. I would reach down and grab the bread from the bottom shelf and make my way, confidently, to the counter.

His hand would reach out slowly. I knew it was coming, but somehow it was unexpected.

“Fille.”

“Oui, Pepere.”

“Pren c’est vente cinq cent. Cherche des bonbons pour toi. Juste pour toi.”

“Merci, Pepere.”

I would gently take the quarter from his large, weathered hands and scurry around the side of the counter to the penny candy. What would I get?! Every time was like a new and exciting moment. I gathered five Squirrels, five Fireballs, five Bazookas, five Tootsie Rolls, and five Bit o’ Honeys.

I placed them carefully on the counter for my uncle to count. I placed the quarter in his hand. He grab the tiniest of brown bags and placed the 25 pieces of candy inside of it and carefully folded the top down. I took the bag in my hands and grabbed the milk and bread in the other hand.

As I turned to walk out the door, my Pepere gave me a wink and a small, sly smile like we were sharing a secret that no one else would know. I leaned up and gave him a kiss on his wrinkled cheek and scurried out the front door of the store.

As I walked back home, I wondered when my mom might need me to go back to the store for her.

 

Small town life… big time joy

I grew up in a small town.

Not just any small town, but a small town far away from a major city.

Not just far away, but REALLY far away.

So far away… that the closest city was in Canada or four hours away.

Throughout my childhood, we rarely left our small town. We may go visit family in Montreal or travel south for a shopping trip to Bangor. We had what we needed even in a time of no internet or Amazon!

During my childhood, I did wonder what was out there, but I was quite content with my small town life.

Small town life… where you know everyone and everyone knows you.

Small town life… where you go to school with the same children for 13 years.

Small town life… where most of your aunts and uncles all live within one mile of your house.

Small town life… where your cousins are some of your best friends.

Small town life… where your mom sends you out the door in the morning and you return only for food at lunch and dinner (unless your best friend’s mom feeds you) and for bed when the sun goes down.

Small town life…where your best friend is your neighbor and you have known her since you were born.

I never knew how much my small town life gave to me until I left that small town for a big city. But that small town continues to be my north star. The place I go to regroup, to find my center, to rest.

I’m happy for that small town life for 18 years. It has made me realize that the small town moments are the most important.

Charley Girl

So if you had told me, just a few short years ago, that I would have a dog… I would have told you that you were sorely mistaken.

You see my boys… ages 12, 15 and 40+… have been working on me for a dog for years. The answer has always- without hesitation- been NO!

Not because I didn’t want to get a dog for them.

Not because I didn’t think dogs were wonderful.

Not because I didn’t think everyone would love a dog.

No. Not at all.

Rather… it was one think… the only think that I could not get over…

I thought it will be ALL my responsibility.

I thought I would do all the work.

I thought this would be yet another ‘to do’ on the massive ‘to do’ list.

But then a dear friend said, “If not now, then when? Don’t wait until they are grown and getting ready to leave home.” And I just couldn’t argue anymore.

So we got Charley… yes… a girl named Charley.

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Yup that’s right… my Charley girl.

And if you are a dog owner or dog lover… you know exactly what happened.

She chose me. Yes she did… she decided from that very first day… that I would be her favorite.

She would choose to follow me around.

She would choose to wait for me at the foot of the stairs every morning.

She would choose to sit by the sink every morning and every evening while I pack lunches, make dinner, do dishes, and pray for a drop of a morsel.

She would choose to make me a dog lover. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Snow Day

 

Yes, one of the great benefits of being a teacher is the beloved snow day. That giddy feeling you get when the TV scrolls through each town and finally gets to your letter… and there it is… CLOSED.

You see, as a child, we didn’t have snow days. I grew up in northern Maine. If we stopped school every time it snowed, we would have never finished out the year!

One such snowy day (that would have been a minimum of one snow day… perhaps two!) was during high school. My mother worked at the high school so we had an early dismissal… an uncommon event. We went out to the car and found it buried in snow so high that we knew, in that instant, that the car was not coming home with us.

We bundled ourselves up and off we went. Through knee deep snow across the parking lot. We anticipated a bit of reprieve as we approached the street… but that reprieve was not coming.

We turned on to the road and proceeded to move towards the center where the snow was ‘less deep’. We walked side by side down the hill without a car in sight. As we rounded the bend to our house, we could see past the snow covered houses, past the driveways with a least a foot of snow and continued down the middle of the road towards home.

These moments, with my mom, from my childhood, are some of the fondest memories I have of home, my mom, and snow  days.

 

The Start of Something New

Years… it has been literally years that I have said that I would start writing publicly. You see I have been writing privately for as long as I can remember. My first journal was a Holly Hobbie Diary with lock and key. A gift I have never forgotten and, I believe, set me on my path of writing across my life.

Writing publicly is scary. It’s daunting. It’s putting yourself out there for all to see. It makes me wonder do I have anything to really share with the world. I think I do and I hope that this will be a way to track the moments of my teaching life, my family life, and my personal journey through life.

Thanks to Melanie Meehan for helping me take the plunge by starting (a little late) by joining the slice of life movement from Two Writing Teachers.

Stay tuned…