Grain by Grain

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Summer was already thick in May when my last baby was born.  She'd come two weeks early and looked too small to be on this side of life, this side of the womb. Her back arched just like the shape of my stomach in those last months, the shape I'd run my swollen hands over a thousand times, feeling for legs and head and hands. Now those legs were tucked tight against her chest. It took time for her to unfurl.

Two boys were at my feet, climbing up my legs, begging for juice, Mama. A dog barked to be let outside. The phone rang, the juice was spilled, cheerios dotted the floors.

And I cried. It was mostly a happy cry, tired from all this new love. I cried while she nuzzled in for milk. Again? And again, and again. I cried when my boys just wanted to go outside and I couldn't cope with outside. I was terrified of managing the three of them alone. So I kept them all inside our air-conditioned cocoon.

Ayla toes and fingers in the sandboxIt was sand that saved me that summer. The boys constantly whined to go to the playground at our park. We live on the edge of this park and can easily walk there, but it was too, too much for me in my baby blues haze. The playground is laid on a bed of sand. Often wet sand. Always dirty sand. Sand that gets inside your shoes and your two year old's pull up and your six year old's hair. That sand was out of the question.

I felt like a failure. How hard was it to walk to the playground, really? It seems easy now, but then it overwhelmed me. For weeks, it seemed, we were trapped by all those things that I couldn't do.

Thankfully it occurred to me to focus instead on what I could do.

I could sit in the shade of my backyard, my tiny baby attached to my breast.

I could fill our water table with sand -- clean, dry, hardware store sand -- and let the boys run their matchbox cars and supermen through the grains.

I could prop up my feet on a planter and listen to my daughter gulp and swallow and breathe the way only the tiniest babies do.

I could watch my dog sniff and explore our yard and bark when the mailman came.

I could do sand. Eventually that summer I could even do playground sand. And because I did, I learned slowly, grain by grain that summer that I could cope with being a mother of one, two and three.


Today's writing exercise on The Red Dress Club's- Remembe(red) is to write about a memory of sand.

Photo Credit: wickenden.

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