4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
It was that kind of ride north, Tim in the driver’s seat, a crew of children glued to a National Geographic documentary on volcanoes or polar bears in the back, and me a passenger in the minivan, at last. A bag of pants and jeans to be patched lay across my lap, but I was totally absorbed in my iPad instead. From blog to Facebook to blog to news to e-mail, I roamed.
We exited the highway, through the tolls to ever smaller, curvier, hillier roads until finally, we were driving across an unbearably narrow bridge and the water on either side was dead calm.
“I wish I could go paddle boarding,” I murmured.
But it was dinner time and I had already run. We arrived and somewhere between making a deal with my husband and fully unpacking the car “the parents” in this story may have used the word “jerk” a few times. So then the 7-year-old pointed out that technically something dad did made him a “jerk”…
And on that uncertain note I threw on my salt-crusted swimsuit, grabbed my paddle, and slipped out the door.
As I set my board in the water, I looked across the cove to see the sky pinkening, heralding sunsets approach. Still the voices in my head from that ride north, voices of such strength and unbridled potty-mouth humor, brave parents and crafty Mamas, friends with news and countries at war, went buzz, buzz, buzz through my head.
From cove to inlet to ocean, I was paddling through the ghostlike puffs of chilly salt air just settling on the water for the evening and then through the dry, sun-bleached air of a hot Maine day already spent. The clouds of chill and warmth skittered like ghosts in tandem across the inlet, and the voices in my head slowly dropped away.
Just as I turned to tuck into the next cove, where the ocean meets the inlet meets the cove, the place where I always think, “Jesus, Jen. Pay attention. You could fall off the board,” just then I heard actual voices, the bell-like chirp of children. I turned almost losing balance and I could barely make out my husband, with my daughter on his shoulders and the other three at his knees, right up on the top of the bluff in the private driveway of the last house on the spit of land. They waved, and I waved my paddle in return, staggering a step to stay standing.
And as I dug my paddle back into the water, gliding into the cove with the scarred lobster boats with names like Jocelyne K, Miss Holly and Adrea Hannah, I looked to my right to see a breathless full moon as big as my fist rising over the trees.
I am between sunset and moonrise, and all the voices have quieted except the faint echo of my children, raining down from above.