Coming Home: In the sweet spot of summer, motherhood
by Jessie Veeder
The cows are milling by the dam and grazing on the short, neon green grass that’s growing just on the edge of my fenced-in yard, sending the dogs into a routine of nervous little ticks.
Speaking of ticks, those are out in full force too, of course. And not one author of a parenting magazine, blog or book has mentioned how unnerving and annoying it is to find one of the buggers crawling up the tiny pant leg of your baby as you walk across the pastures with her strapped to your chest so she can look up and learn about how the sun lights the tips of the trees and makes them sparkle.She doesn’t seem to mind the creepy parts of summer as much as I do. Babies haven’t yet learned to be bothered by such things. But I’m not about to let some little pest keep us inside for my favorite time of year.
Because I have things to show this baby. Today she’s officially half a year old. It feels like a lifetime ago that we drove her across the cattle guard to the ranch for the first time, drive-thru Thanksgiving dinner in the console of the pickup.
And I guess it was. It was her whole lifetime ago …
I keep saying it’s crazy how fast and slow it all goes at the same time.
A baby calf is born and it immediately and instinctively wobbles to its shaky legs. In a few days you can find him bucking and leaping across the pastures, kicking his heels up to the sky, testing out what it means to have four hooves and a snout.
On the deck this morning our barn cat sits by the door, looking at me through the screen, waiting for a pat on the head or a bowl of milk.
Out in the barnyard somewhere she’s hidden a fresh batch of kittens. Last night my husband took my 12-year-old niece out to look for them, to listen for the whimpers and cries of their tiny new lives so that we might catch them and tame them before they open their eyes and grow wild.
Last weekend I sat on the floor of my living room and sorted through piles of hand-me-down baby clothes my sister-in-law sent for Edie. There were sun hats and swimming suits, shorts and sweaters, snow pants and pink socks. In one bin I pulled out a tiny green and red plaid Christmas dress, one that I recognized from a holiday spent with their family when that 12-year-old niece was small — small enough to fit in that frilly little dress.
This morning as I type she’s downstairs playing peekaboo with Edie. She’s come for a week to help out, to babysit, ride horses, tell me stories about her friends and look for baby kittens.
Wasn’t I just playing peekaboo with her? I swear it was just yesterday but maybe it was a lifetime ago.
Well it was. Her lifetime.
Tomorrow I’ll wake up and Edie will be almost 13, too.
But today as we roll into the sweet spot of summer, where everything is fresh and new, the calves are kicking, the frogs are croaking, and the turkeys are gobbling outside my window.
I can’t help but relate to this season. Because I feel like I’m in the sweet spot of new motherhood, navigating a fresh and fleeting time where the world is so new to her and so completely changed to me that it might as well be a new life all together.
Except for the ticks. I remember the ticks from my other life.