“I wanna watch mommy play rocks,” C says, making my husband laugh so hard he starts coughing. C is referring to the times I often sit, meditate, and yes “play rocks”—hold in my hands the various healing stones I have collected, such as rose quartz, amethyst, and a smooth, heart-shaped rhodonite stone. Sometimes I lay on a yoga mat in shavasna and place the stones on my stomach for healing. It is weird, I know. But it helps.
I start working with a clinical hypnotherapist/shamanic practitioner who helps me journey into my past and integrate. As a psychotherapist myself, this time allows me to be the client so I can re-charge, connect with my inner strength, and clear away stuck energy that needs to move along. However, unlike the traditional talk therapy I offer to my clients, this modality I have found for myself involves feathers and drumming and whistling and spirit animal calling—and I am not going to say much more about that, because, like “playing rocks,” it is hard to really describe in a way that does not sound, well, crazy.
J gets invited to a movie playdate and has entered the age when I do not attend all his social events anymore. I cannot tell if I am excited or devastated about this. Probably a little of both. A few minutes before the friend’s parent picks him up, I cannot stand the anticipation any longer and erupt into a cleaning madness—spinning through the house like a whirling dervish—as if tidying up the house can somehow calm my chaotic mind. The doorbell rings, J’s friend collects him at the door, and they go skipping down the walkway together. “Bye!” The other parent waves from her car window. “Bye! Thanks again!” I say and just like that, they are gone.
A friend of mine, who is very close to my heart, is getting married, so I spend a weekend away from the family for her bachelorette weekend. I feel light and excited, thankful that I have cultivated and maintained nurturing friendships, a life outside of my children, which is not easy to do. Each day is filled with laughter and sweetness and relaxation. The bride-to-be is a best friend I grew up with, who has always been there for me as a solid force of unwavering light. We have shared so many heartbreaks and celebrations and milestones that now, seeing her this happy makes me teary-eyed, like sailors undocking into the wind, gulping that fresh salty air as the seagulls swirl high above, chirping and wailing in celebration.
The second night away, I have a nightmare that I am standing alone at the post office and cannot find J. I am crying so hard in the dream that I wake up with tears in my eyes, feeling disoriented. I fight the urge to get in my car that instant, pajamas and all, and drive straight to my kids, my heart feeling like a coconut cracked in half. That same morning, C is turning three years old. In addition to the nightmare, his birthday also pulls me home, in an almost violent way—perhaps the spirits who helped bring him here, demanding to be honored. I hug my dear friend goodbye, who understands these things, and make a beeline for home.
When I open the front door, J and C run to me, and I drop to my knees for a hug, my heart steaming with hot glue joining the pieces back together again. I let out a cooling breath. We settle into the living room and C plays with a new fire truck. I mention to my husband that I rushed home a bit to be with the kids, and C looks up from my lap where he is playing and says, “Thank you.” This startles me, his constant observation of life around him—and his sweet gratitude a surprise party, filling me with aliveness.
C’s grandparents give him a trampoline for his birthday and he jumps with glee until his cheeks turn red. Before naptime, he wants to take a warm bath and brush his teeth. He curls up with Blanky and Bunny and asks if he can snuggle with his brother. I call down to J, who hops up the stairs, humming a song to himself. They embrace in a hug and C laughs. “You’re so cute,” J tells him sweetly. J makes his brother a Lego creation for his birthday and wraps it in paper he colored in with little stripes.
Later that day, C asks me if we can go for a walk in the rain, so I get out our umbrella and rain boots. He stops at a large storm drain, watching with fascination as the water whooshes down the grate. Soon, hail starts to ping our umbrella and bounce all around us like popcorn, coating the earth with white specks that disappear as our footsteps crunch along. Thunder startles us from the sky and he turns to me with wide, curious eyes. Thunder, I tell him, and he says, “very loud.” He asks me if we can run now and I say yes. He laughs aloud as he moves his little body in a sprint, holding on tightly to a little orange kazoo in one hand. I try my best to keep up, feeling bubbles of lightness as this moment, his birthday—this life—continues to unfold and freeze and rewind and charge forward into the water.