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letters to my daughter . 090916
Maggie and the Moon

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I’ve had this Jazz standard on my mind today, poking up into that playlist in my brain in between all the residue from a very busy two weeks of client design work. It’s on my mind because of a little activity Baby Girl planned for us last night. Her third grade class is doing a unit on space, and they’re learning about constellations and the phases of the moon. They’ve been documenting the look of the moon so they can understand how the phases work. Each group has certain nights to look at the moon, draw how it looks and write down any other observations. Maggie had already recorded the findings on her night, but decided before school yesterday that it would be fun to do it again that night — along with the whole family.

Now, Maggie has great ideas. She has lots of ideas. And, I’ll admit that sometimes my response to her ideas is to try to simplify, to put her off, to cajole her with practicality. How did I get to be that person? I’m given to getting lost in my own imagination. I’m not usually practical minded. Except when I’m at the end of a long and busy day, coming at the end of a long and busy week, when I tend to want as little fuss as possible.

Last night, I tried to talk Baby Girl out of fuss. It’s true; I tried to encourage her to alter her plans in favor of just walking out and looking up at the moon. But, I could see the disappointment in her eyes. So, I rounded up the boys, and we decided to go for it.

It’s an interesting thing when you take a small thing and make a real “thing” out of it. When you take a have-to and make a celebration out of it. Those transformations are part of what I want to be “normal” in our home. We put a lot of time (and decorations) into celebrating things — even little things. Maggie has learned well. How easy it is to let the little opportunities for celebration get crowded out by busy-ness.

So, at 8:00 last night, the Montgomerys spread a quilt on the front yard, spread out the lanterns Baby Girl brought,  and stretched out on pillows looking up. At first it was a have-to — one of those things big brothers have to do to please their little sisters. One of those things Mommies have to do to keep from disappointing daughters. But, before I knew it I was breathing deeply — the first time all day, I think. I stretched out my arms. Bug snuggled close to me on the pillow. Maggie showed everyone her moon journal. Travis discovered an airplane. Then another. Bug got his glasses to see the stars better. We turned off the lanterns. We counted stars as our eyes slowly adjusted. We watched the clouds move across the half moon.

Time that moments before had been spent with each person gazing into a screen of some kind turned into time spent talking to each other, noticing the world around us, and celebrating the night together. And yes, everyone was ready to go back in and enjoy their own things after a little while. But, for those short moments, we were amazed by the sky and the night. And, everyone decided we should lay out our quilt another night to look at the stars.

For me, it was a treasured moment. A moment when I realized, I’d never see the moon the same way again. Because when I look up tonight or the next, I’ll think about Maggie and her ideas. I’ll think about Elisha scooting closer to me on the pillow and counting stars. I’ll think about Travis wondering out loud if we were seeing light from 500 years ago. I’ll remember that we looked at that same moon together. On this one night. And it was a “thing.” A beautiful thing.

Years ago, when I started my first blog, I wrote a column called “Gift Tags…”

“the tiny messages God continues to include with our gifts — 2 little joys of boys and 1 little jewel of a girl, each with open eyes, open ears, open hearts, and much to teach. “Behold children are a gift of the Lord…” (psalm 127:1)”

The series was an exercise in paying attention to those little miraculous things I learn from my children. It was before I had this business. Before Mike died. Before I was tasked with being the sole provider for my family. Before these last few weeks and this season, when I feel like I’ve been so stretched emotionally and creatively to meet the challenges of work and art and parenting. But, the messages are just as poignant. Just as essential. Just as much balm to my soul.

I realized that again in a new way last night. I reminded myself what a treasure they each are. What a treasure time is. And how important it is to take advantage of every moment. Maggie is our living laboratory assignment for the pursuit of beautifully embraced moments. I’m so thankful that she stretches us toward experiencing them.

“I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.”

Programming note: Today is Number 55 in the Letters series, and I’m on a mission to get to 100 this fall. Stay with me!

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