Thursday, December 30, 2010

That Day in May

It almost feels like a sacred day, looking back, like my one, unfettered day of blissful motherhood. It came as a surprise, which it shouldn’t have. It was the eleventh of May, and our baby had been due six days earlier. I had been to see the midwife that Friday, the 9th, and I had heard the little heart pounding over the doppler. My non-stress test was scheduled for the following Wednesday. The truth of the matter, which was absolutely beyond my comprehension, was that sometime in the next week I would be having a baby, one way or another. The journey was about to begin.

When I woke up that Sunday morning, it did feel like a Sunday like any other. I knew it was a special day for some people, but I hadn’t thought to consider myself among them-- not yet. And so it was to my great surprise when I came downstairs and found my husband in our living room with a small, wrapped gift.
Happy Mother’s Day, he said, and handed it to me.

I blushed, smiled. It hadn’t occurred to me that he might honor me on this day. I’d mused about the adorable possibility of our baby being born on this day, but I hadn’t ever actually considered the blatant fact of my own motherhood.

Still smiling, head down, I carefully opened the wrapping paper and found that it was from the jeweler downtown. Lifting the lid on the little box, I discovered a pair of ever-so-thin, delicate gold hoop earrings, about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Right away, I knew they were just the accessory for the busy new mother-- the earrings that could be worn every single day, without ever being removed or changed, comfortable to sleep in, safe to shower in, appropriate for every occasion.

But more than appreciating the beauty and practicality of this well-chosen gift, I was mostly humbled and delighted at the prospect that I had not only been given a gift for Mother’s Day, which most certainly made me feel like a mother, but had been given a thoughtfully chosen, expensive gift from a jewelry store, which made me feel like a very special mother indeed. Rising to my feet, I wrapped my arms around Greg’s neck as best I could over the swollen globe that was our daughter, and I thanked him from the bottom of my heart for honoring me on this special day. Suddenly the reality of my new identity seemed sealed, and I slipped the new earrings into my ears at once, where they would stay for over two years.

You may remember the details of what happened next, about the wonderful walk we took along the Mill River, the conversation I had with Gina about how difficult it would be if this baby were to die after I’d known her for so long, and our trip to the diner for grilled cheese sandwiches and milkshakes.

As the jukebox played our request, and Charlotte kicked along to the beat of the music, our waitress offered me a rose, in honor of Mother’s Day. For the second time that day, I beamed, realizing that this, the best part of my life, had already begun.

The rose was still alive, beautiful and full, on the kitchen table when I came home from the hospital, empty handed, empty bellied, and so full hearted I did not know where to begin. I was a mother, wasn’t I? They’d said I was only days earlier, when it had all seemed so real, and tangible. But now, but now....

I wore the earrings for years, knowing I had birthed her in them, knowing they stood for what I held most dear: my motherhood. I don’t remember when I changed them for the first time, only that after some years had passed I started to occasionally take them out for special occasions, again trying on a pair of antique pearls or a funky pair of African beaded earrings I’d loved in college. It was maybe five or six years later when somehow, somewhere, one of the hoops came loose, and I found myself gazing into a mirror at home one night with only one earring there. I felt destitute, lost. I wanted it back. I had no idea where it had fallen out.

I stashed the remaining hoop in my jewelry box, hoping beyond all reason that somewhere I would find its mate someday. I never did.

Then, several weeks ago, I came across the hoop as I was reorganizing my jewelry, and I felt sad to imagine that I would never wear it again. The flush of pride and love I’d felt upon receiving the gift of those earrings came to me once again, and I wanted it with me. Could I put it on a necklace? I mused to myself, and then it came to me.

Carefully removing the emerald ring that I always wear that marries me to my firstborn, I slipped the hoop on the ring finger of my right hand, like a wedding band, and it fit perfectly. The delicate clasp fit around the back of my finger, nestling in the little space that indents when I bend my hand. I slid the emerald ring back on, and there they were: like a pair that had always meant to be worn together. The circle of motherhood, broken, but symbolic of the beauty of that day, and the emerald ring that will tie me to my firstborn every minute of my life. I worried for a moment about whether the clasp might come undone, and the earring might be lost. Then I thought of the moments when I would look down and see this ring of gold, and remember that warm May morning when everything had been perfect. Better to live with the beauty of that memory for the time the ring stays on, I reasoned, than to keep it locked in my jewelry box to be forgotten once again.

And so I wear the ring, as if it has always belonged on my finger. I look down and am tied to that moment of purity, when motherhood and joy were fused without a wrinkle. It is with gratitude that I remember those brief moment, and that day.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My sister gave the kids an amazing dramatic play kit for Christmas. She's a doctor, and she put together the white coat, the kids gown, and all the bandaids, ankle braces, ace bandages, thermometers, gauze pads and strips, masks, hairnets, and booties you could dream of. We cleared out a corner of the room and filled a little bookcase with all the new loot, and put an old crib mattress on the floor next to it for the patient to lie on.
Then, they asked me if they could take the wooden bedrail off my bed to make the bed more like a kids' hospital bed.
The bedrail, of course, is there to keep Fiona safe when she's in bed with me.
But the truth is, Fiona doesn't like to sleep in my bed. So I let them take it, my heart giving in to the truth of it all: when my baby ditched me in September for her crib, she really did ditch me for good. Since that time she actually hasn't slept in our bed at all. She's come in, but she never sleeps.
I never had this with my other kids. Until they were probably 2 or 3, they would always crawl into bed with me at 4, or maybe 5, and nurse and snooze and snuggle until the sun came up. But Fiona, despite the fact (or is it because?) that she was the only one who exclusively slept with me without ever going into the sidecar for an hour or two during the night, wants nothing to do with sleeping together anymore. For eight months we slept in harmony together, for a month and a half we slept in half-asleep annoyed tossing and turning together, and now when it's time to get in to bed at night, she nurses on my lap for a few minutes, then sits up, and says, Bed. She lies on her tummy, snuggling in as I tuck the wooly knitted blankets over her. And then I leave her there, and she falls asleep, and never makes a peep.
She still wakes up in the night, of course, and there's a mattress on the floor of her room, so we snuggle into bed together to nurse during these times. I always wonder whether she'll just fall asleep with me, and we'll end up logging a few hours together, but we never do. She nurses on one side, then asks for the other, and then wakes up and turns away and starts to sit up. This is my cue, and if I put her back to bed, again she snuggles in and goes right back to sleep. If I try to get her to lie with me, she gets irritated and cries. (how insulting!!) So I always put her back now, and I respect that this is just who Fiona is.
I have to admit that as I anticipate the arrival of a new little one in five months I am almost glad that she's like this on her own, that I won't have to harbour the guilt of a new baby taking over her spot in my bed. I won't have to worry about what to do at 4 in the morning when she wakes up and wants to nurse in bed with me. If she does wake up and want to nurse, I know it will be a 3 minute affair in her room, and then she'll happily curl up again in her own bed. I suppose, then, that her independence is a blessing.
And I laugh, knowing that this is what most people strive for, and to me it seems almost sad! I miss her little warm body in bed with me at night, still, after three months apart. I feel awkward and funny leaving her alone in her room to fall asleep. But Fiona is Fiona, and this is what Fiona wants.
And I do get these little snatches, every night, of the snuggliest love ever as I pull her down onto the cozy, down filled bed on her floor. She curls into me, fat and round in her quilted sleep sack, and her warm cheeks are so delicious and lovely. I bend my head down around her and kiss the top of her little soft head while she nurses, and I always fall asleep for a while, just like this, and appreciate the moment so intensely.

I remember, so vividly, being alone.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Coming clean, just in case

A fellow babylost mother, who reads this blog but also with whom I share a personal connection, wrote to me last week. You seem so organized, she commented, like the house is always tidy, the laundry is always put away. Your kids go to bed early, and you don't yell, it seems. I laughed out loud, and then the laughter faded to a near guilt sensation, because I feel wretched if this is, indeed, the image I portray. I always make periodic efforts to come clean, with a confession of a really dreadful yelling match, or a moment of truth when I acted really childishly. I think the truth is, the areas in which I often get overwhelmed are just really, really boring: they are the piles of laundry, the mess, the never ending meals and dishes, the meetings to keep track of, and the usual ins and outs of being part of a household. These things are so mundane, and to go into the details of not getting them done is simply whining. I am not, by nature, a complainer, but I do derive incredible satisfaction (don't we all?) when these things actually, miraculously, get accomplished.

And so, when this happens, I post photos like this one, which showcase the areas of my home that have my heart singing with the amazing accomplishment of organization, beauty, and creativity. Here we see the children's art table, where they devote hours to artistic endeavors of all sorts. Here, again, we also see the art table. This is probably what the art table looks like about 70% of the time, due to the fact that the children are always playing at it. Organizing markers by size and type and sorting papers for keeping and recycling sometimes evade them, and in fact the greatest contributor to the perpetual mess is my own lack of organization. I never remember to tell them to stop working five minutes before dinner or we have to leave for school, and so there is no time to clean up. The mess builds, and builds, until we see this:
Ahh, yes. This is home, sweet home. I want to be very clear about this. There is a blogger (not babylost) whom I really admire, and I enjoy reading her writing, but I find that she neglects this side of herself: the one where, because she's so busy sewing beautiful handmade clothes and baking bread, the laundry piles for days and days (or even weeks). She doesn't mention about the times when the laundry baskets are all full, so she has to dump out the laundry on the bedroom floor so she can empty the dryer and switch the loads. It's possible, that despite the beautiful, rosy image, her bedroom also might look like mine does today:
Just like it's possible that the tidy, beautiful craft area that you envision me felting in, and sewing the skirts, and making these amazing appliqued shirts, actually looks like this, and I usually end up doing most of the work on the floor because the table is too messy.
Motherhood is messy work, there's no doubt about it. And I never, ever want to give off the mistaken impression that I do it all: the love, the devotion, the hot breakfast, the tidy house, the folded laundry, and the crafts seamlessly and without compromise. Every day I have to decide what gets done and what doesn't. My children always get fed. I should say no more often to the requests, but a little blond head asking for eggs or french toast on an 11 degree morning almost always gets me pulling out the frying pan. Sometimes I try to do too much, and I end up rushed and crying and wishing I was the mom who put the Cheerios out every day, because that's sensible and there would be no discussions or arguments about what's for breakfast if it were the same thing every day. But it is what it is, and I'm far from perfect, and most importantly I'm still learning how to do this. I'm learning now, and I will be learning 50 years from today (God willing) about how to mother these amazing people in the way that will allow them, and myself, the growth, opportunity, nurture, and unbounding love that they deserve.

So this is it, just making sure, that the singing of the accomplishments, of the beautiful, handmade Christmas, the shining two trees, the joy of parenting these four amazing souls (or should I start to say five?) doesn't have anyone thinking that yesterday I didn't sit in the sunroom and cry for a while because I just felt like everything was too hard. These moments still wash over me, sometimes often, and it's the truth at the base of it all: it is hard, it's always hard, and this is the place where I feel I can stand tall and make the announcements about the good parts.

So hurrah, for the life of this country girl. I do have so much to be grateful for and wondrous about, and I think I love the idea of embracing exactly what this blog presents: that we don't fixate on the piles of laundry or the times we lose our patience with our children. Instead, we should quietly try to accept these parts of ourselves, as humans, and have the focus be on the good parts, on the days when we do feel fluid and joyful. Highly ambitious, but a worthy goal just the same.

Monday, December 20, 2010

On giving, and receiving, and gratitude.

This is the time. I have to say, unlike many of you who are reading these words, this time brings less bitter heartache and more joy to my life than I'd imagined it ever could seven, or six, or even five years ago. As my living children have grown I have come into the immense joy I get from making them and acquiring for them things that I know will make their cheeks split with smiles I can't wipe away. As a mother who never, ever gives material gifts to my children outside of Christmas and birthdays, I save up all year with ideas and thoughts of how to make them giggle with delight. It is a culmination of ideas and

love and hope all bundled up. I want to show them how much I love them; show them, and everyone else. I actually love this time now, now that some of the emptiness feels less echoey (this is some seriously creative use of words here, but this is how it feels to me).
As a woman who personally derives great joy out of making things myself, always in the fall I begin concocting lists in my head of what I'm planning on making for whom. I'm going to make Christmas banners for the mothers and sisters and in laws, I'm going to make matching twirly skirts lined with pink tulle for the girls, I have plans to applique designs on t-shirts for Liam. There are things I could

knit, endless creations to be made from the piles of wool felt on my sewing table, and the half-knit blanket for Fiona in my knitting basket under the table in the living room. When I start to plan, it's usually early October, and things feel managable-- it's not a huge list, and I've got time.
This is when, without fail, nine weeks fly swiftly by and I suddenly find myself a week into December. The raw materials still lie ready and waiting, but the clock is ticking.

So I have been a whirling dervish of late; whipping up felt food faster than I can see it coming, appliqueing octopuses and sharks, and making banners until I think I will go cross eyed. I love, love, love all of this-- but I do harbor the hope that some day, I will enact these wonderful ideas before the calendar hits the month of December. It would bring me more pleasure to take my time with these things than to sit with them late at night as my eyes sting with the exhaustion.

Tonight, I said, tonight I am going to begin the wrapping for the kids, and then I'll work on the projects for my mother and sister and law. But when I came downstairs, I realized that what I needed to do was to take some time for myself. So here I am, content on the living room sofa, by the light of the holly-jolly Christmas tree, feeling glad that I am almost finished with my projects and that right now, I'm doing what I want to do.

So there is the giving part, and now there is the receiving part.

Today a beautiful thing happened. I took part in Jenni's ornament exchange, and mine arrived. I had been looking forward to this, but I hadn't anticipated how deeply it would move me. At lunchtime my mother-in-law had come to be with the girls while I went and spoke to a roomful of IVF nurses who wanted to know more about my program. Feeling professional and satisfied, I pulled up into my driveway to find a small white box on the back step, addressed to me, followed by the words, For Charlotte Amelia.

My heart did that melty thing that it does when just for a brief, almost second, it's as if your child is real. Real and there, I mean, like an ordinary child who might be at school or inside the house playing with playmobil while her grandmother makes her lunch. I had that flicker of imagining what it would be like to really just be, not just sometimes and to some people, but all the time, Charlotte's mother. It was a beautiful thing, and I held the box for a long moment before I stepped into the house.
The girls were all riled up to see me and Fiona had to be tucked in for her nap before I could open the box. I thought about inviting Aoife to help me, but it felt deeply personal. I worried about the box, about the label, about the contents in that way that one can only worry about the sacred things that connect us to the reality of our little lost souls. I carefully cut the tape around the label, being sure not to rip it in the process, and set the white rectangle that bore her name on the windowsill above the kitchen sink, where I could see it easily.
There she was, real.
Carol McMurrich
for Charlotte Amelia
A daughter, just like the other daughters and son who get mailed things care of me.
And how almost sweet it is that this first part, just the receiving of the box and the opening of it, were so delightful to me that this in itself could have been the gift.

But inside was the most beautiful ornament made by Sara, who I hadn't known of before. She included a note that explained that the angel was made with a victorian technique called quilling. I felt so honored, and humbled, and connected to imagine her working on this amazing creation at her home in Montana while I stumbled around in my little mundane-to-me life here in Massachusetts.
Sara included the link to her blog and so I learned a few brief details about her life in the three or maybe six minutes I was able to steal. Sara has seven sons, five with her, and I marvel at this: that one woman could create seven sons. Seven sons! I think of the hilarity, and comraderie, and absolute meltingly soft love that must ricochet around a home as filled with sons as this one is. It felt so filling and wonderful to even snatch these few details about this woman whose hand had penned those words, whose hands had created this ornament that I then shared with Aoife and let her hang on the Charlotte tree. Sara, of the seven sons.

As I daydreamed about what this would be like, to have seven of one kind, I remembered that last night I had a dream about meeting a woman who introduced me to her daughter, about six, and explained that she had five younger sisters. I had awoken pondering the concept of people who somehow produce child after child of the same sex, and remembered suddenly thinking of a family I had known who had had eight daughters and one son (born last). How odd, I thought, that I should meet in my dream this woman, with her string of daughters, and then the same day, a real woman named Sara with an even greater number of sons.

It made for a wonderful new light in this day, which had almost revolved around giving, and honestly I can't really imagine that there will be a moment again in this Christmas season that will make me feel more deep-seated gratitude than I felt upon receiving that little white box. So thank you, Sara, because you've given me this moment to be Charlotte's mother, and to remind me that even while I stitch and sew and freezer-paper stencil away, with a smile on my face, I need these moments so desperately I'm probably afraid to realize it. As the years have passed and my really amazing ideas of what to do for Charlotte at Christmastime have faded into pretty good ideas that will appeal to the other children, I really can't put words to the importance of having this one, small white box appear with her own name on it.

For Charlotte Amelia, my daughter, the one who started this whole thing. It really would be impossible for me to offer even a thought on where I'd be now without having had her in my life. For just those eight months and eleven days that I knew she was living in me, she began this journey for me and really there isn't a thing in my life now that can't somehow be traced back to her.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Charlotte's Tree

I'm so delighted because this year, in addition to our usual, gorgeous, joyfully decorated Christmas tree in the living room, Charlotte has her very own tree. Last year, we realized that almost the entire top half of our tree was devoted to her, and the tree was getting crowded. So this year I put my foot down and said it was high time we had a special angel tree for her special ornaments. It's in our dining room, and it makes me so happy to have it glow around us while we eat and relax in the big soft armchair in the corner.

This year, when we decorated the tree without her for the eighth time, we did not cry. I felt joyful to be dedicating this corner of my house to her, so conspicuous and obvious and out there. It would be seen, and admired, by everyone who entered.

I felt wistful and sad, as we hung the ornaments on a cold Tuesday afternoon, but there were no tears.

I wondered if this is okay.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


The first snow fluttered down last night, gently coating the yard with a dusting of white. I could see it in the darkness, the rooftop below my window glowing, as I pattered down the hall to Fiona sometime in the 4's. This, in addition to the incredible, bitter cold that has set itself upon us, brings real winter, the bitterness, the closing in. Darkness settles.
I remember waking up sometime in December of 2003, and coming down the stairs to the sight of my husband's back facing the kitchen windows. Our house was tiny then, and the stairs fed right into the kitchen. I was on my way to the bathroom, having just woken up, when I saw the flakes drifting downwards, and noticed the all-too familiar quake of his shoulders.
It's her first snow, he managed, and then his face was in his hands, his head on the counter.

This morning I awoke to the sounds of Liam and Aoife gleefully hurling small handfuls of snow at each other, pulling a small plastic sled around the yard through the three-quarters of an inch of snow. They were fully dressed in snow gear, their cheeks apple-red, noses dripping in the bitter cold. Their shrieks and giggles were loud and glorious. I lay in my bed and gazed up, twelve images of my forever-lost daughter looking down at me. I looked into my own face, and that of my husband, our eyes filled with the most intense and haunting longing I could ever conjure up, and I looked into the face of that beautiful baby, and wondered who she would have become. The shouts of joy from outside continued. This is where we are, now.

A few minutes later, Greg brought Fiona in to me. She was rosy and warm, double-pajamaed against the chilly morning, her cheeks shiny and red from the eruption of molars. As she has many mornings of late, she also turned to the photos over the bed, pointing.
Daddy, she said. Dolly.
Remember, my sweets? I say to her, She's not a dolly, she's a baby. Daddy is holding Charlotte. She's your sister.
S-har-uh. Ba-by. she offers, long pauses between syllables as she struggles to make the sounds. Ba-by.

I struggle a little, now, with how tiny Charlotte is in the photos, and how long ago in the dust her older siblings have left her. I look at her tiny countenance, her slight limbs and long, elegant hands, and I think about how long it's been since Liam or Aoife, even approached that tininess. Even Fiona Clementine seems bulky and robust at 17 pounds 4 ounces, her immense and ever-growing vocabulary pulling her farther and farther away from her infancy. More often now I find myself pondering not how big Charlotte would be now, as a seven and a half year old, but how tiny she was then, how intimate and new a baby is, and how very much we've lost. Unlike when she would have been two, or four months old, now I find I can hardly fathom who she would be, or what she would look like. I almost can't try to picture her, because I have no idea where to begin.

I have a goal, for the next little while, and it's to be true to the now.
Often, when I write here, I am myself looking backward: I am a mother who didn't have the support of other babylost moms when I was one, or two, or four years out. I am reliving those moments in some retroactive attempt at support and companionship. I want others to hear my voice and say, yes, me, too. But I realize that I am not there, and that no matter how vividly I speak of what it was like then, I will always be further down the road. While I reach desperately for some kind of peer support, those I am viewing as peers see me as someone in a different place. Someone not a peer, but somewhere else. Despite this difference, which until now I hadn't pondered very deeply, quite often I can hesitate to speak of the now, of the joy that exists, of the happiness that could still come, because I fear causing pain for some, or creating a rift between myself and the readers I wish to have. When I was pregnant with Fiona I almost stopped writing because I couldn't write about the anguish of Charlotte's passing in the advent of another birth. It never occurred to me that I could just write this, just write about other things, that I could write deeply about the terror of the pregnancy and the secret hopes that I harbored. I felt this wasn't the place.
But if not here, then where? This is a blog, an anonymous, ill-advertised, kept-secret from the real friends in my life blog. I think it's time to be me, to just accept and love who I am, where I am, to invite into the now myself, and you, and anyone who cares to peer into what it's like here.

So, today it snowed. My older children frolicked, joy spelled clearly across their chilly, sun-lit faces. Fiona crawled around on the rug in the sunroom, pulling books off the shelves and making animal sounds, while I ate blueberry pancakes by the Charlotte tree. I worried in the shower that I'm not really showing yet, and wondered if I should ask for an early ultrasound to measure growth so I can get an early read on whether this baby is developing properly. I went back to the photo on this blog, from May of 2009, of me 16 weeks pregnant with Fiona and gasped, and suddenly felt awfully self-conscious and silly for not being in maternity pants yet and still telling people that I am pregnant. I'm getting ready for a holiday party at our house tonight, making hot hors d'oeuvres with things like bacon and mayonnaise and other untouchable items.

Liam is reading choose-your-own adventure books, now. And I think to myself, I didn't choose this adventure, but I don't get the chance to know what would have happened if I'd gotten to pick page 23 instead of 98. I was assigned this adventure, and I'm riding the wave. I also don't get to choose anyone else's adventure; but if they choose to read about mine, I'm the better for it.

Here I am. It snowed last night.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

News, and such

There's a long story and a short story to everything, and so I could choose between the two in offering some thoughts on the dearth of writing lately. I'll select the short version, and state it like this, uncontained within one sentence as to state it as another might would make it all seem too real: 16. weeks. pregnant.

Did anyone really think I could ever stop this baby growing process with the culmination of my last beautiful effort, Fiona Clementine, she who has been like a blossoming new flower, scented beautifully vanilla, smiling and offering greetings and waves everywhere we go? Who curls into me and rests her fat cheeks on my shoulder and whose wet lips smoosh into my cheek and leave me breathless every day?

I have always known I would have to exceed all measures of practicality before I would be able to call it a day with conception and birth and, hopefully, the parenting of a newborn infant. So here I find myself, with a 6 year old, and a 4 year old, and a just-turned-1 year old, and as her half-birthday rolls into view and passes another one might come into our life, rosy and whole as her/his siblings, and the end may have come for this stage.

At this point we will have exactly one hand per child, not enough bedrooms, hardly room in our car, definitely (practically speaking) not enough money, and so this makes it just perfect for us, because to be practical in these circumstances, when there are amazing people to be made, is simply a waste of an opportunity.

So an opportunity we decided we would seize, should it present itself. Those of you who have known me for quite some time will remember the drama of conceiving the wee Clementine, and so will understand that whilst an 18 month spread does seem quite, absolutely, daunting to me at this point, there was no possibility for me to at once want another baby some day and at the same time use birth control for a while to try to space things out. I knew what I know now: if I'm ever lucky enough to conceive again, I will conceive again, and I will be grateful and lucky and beholden to everyone and everything. And days, or maybe a few weeks, after that decision was made, something took hold, and somehow it is still there.

And so it shall be.

And so I hardly dare to breathe the words, since things feel so precarious at all times, this is the truth of now.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Warm Water

I'm in a gratitude phase right now. I'm marveling every day at the roof over our heads, at the numerous rooms, at the collections of books and wide variety of foods to choose from, even when I might claim at 4 PM that the cupboard is bare. But it's a really simple thing that I always feel so amazed by, something that I wonder if some people ever stop to ponder.
Every night, after they eat their warm supper, my children trundle upstairs to our yellow bathroom, and they get into a lovely hot bath. It's so simple-- I turn on a tap and gallons upon gallons of beautiful, clean, pristine well water, at precisely the right temperature for their little bodies, pours into the tub. They get in, and while some nights we grab the bottle of soap and scrub them down, most nights they just play in the warm water, rinsing their little bodies off, and relaxing from their busy day. I find this so amazing that every single day we have this luxury. The children aren't even dirty. We don't even wash them all the time. It's just something warm, and soothing, and lovely that they do together every night. A symbol of true luxury that could pass right by my eyes if I didn't stop to think about it. If I didn't stop to ponder how many children in the world don't have access to clean water, or running water, or warm water. Or how many children in this country do have access to these things but whose parents just park them in front of the television and don't bother to let them play happily in the tub before their appropriately early bedtime. (did you know that the symptoms of extreme exhaustion and fatigue mimic ADHD symptoms?) My children are blessed, and I am blessed to be aware of our good fortune.