Childhood’s tiny treasures


I didn’t expect to love holding marker caps, or the tops of acorns, or the shiny foil of an opened Hershey Kiss.

My life is full of tiny things, unexpected bits and baubles — little treasures collected by my children and tucked into pockets, both theirs and mine. I find them in the pants pockets and stacked on chairs.

Oliver, my wild bird, is a collector of sparkly things. He likes pawing through my jewelry box to unearth my college ring: a thick band with a ruby at its center. It’s engraved with my initials and graduation year, though my thirty-something eyes don’t find the tiny letters as easily these days. I’ve caught Ollie many times trying to squirrel it away. I keep little from them, but I don’t want that ring to disappear like so many marbles and buttons before it.

“Mommy, when I’m five, I can have your college ring?” Oliver will ask. Five is going to be a big year for Oliver; it’s the age he’ll be driving the minivan and chopping vegetables himself, too.

Hadley is also getting in on the act. She loves to carry around LEGO people, one she’s even dubbed “Mommy,” and has a collection of plastic “Sesame Street” characters in the cupholder of her car seat. I find Goldfish tucked away, presumably for later, and round game pieces hidden in the trunk of a tricycle.

She and Ollie build their nests — one busted piece of jewelry at a time.

Marker caps are new. Hadley loves to draw: bold lines and dots like pattering raindrops on cloudy white paper. She will make the smallest movement with a pen, adding a pink swoosh here or a yellow circle there. She hands each lid to me as she works, careful not to get ink on her tiny fingers.

I’m cautious with the lids, waiting with uncharacteristic patience as she draws. We don’t want to the markers to dry out, I gently say.

And Hadley smiles, nods, adds more dots to her scene. She trusts that these, too, will be safe.



Just a little post for Mom

Great Falls in 2011

Visiting Great Falls in 2011

Some of my earliest memories of Mom are wrapped around Sunday afternoons. Always a working woman, Mom has always devoted the weekends — usually Sundays — to getting her wardrobe ready for the week. When I think of those early days, I remember the smell of spray starch and the slow hiss of the iron gliding over fabric; I think of the low laugh track of a television show as I stood nearby, gazing longingly at Mom’s jewelry.

We called it “The Necklace Game” — and it was less a game and more of a, well, a shameless chance to admire her baubles. At 3 or 4, I was ham-fisted and clumsy in the way all young children are — and I can still see the thick tangles of necklaces hanging from a jewelry rack on my parents’ dresser. I tried to pull them apart, to separate them, but they were stuck. Inextricably tied together.

Like Mom and me. When my younger sister was born, we were a happy family of four. I’d hope that most of us would declare that we love our parents, without hesitation, but I also feel fortunate to like them, too. As Katie and I have gotten older, their roles may have shifted more to friend than parent — but I still look to Mom and Dad for advice, comfort and support.

That’s just the way it goes.

My mom is an excellent photographer, a tireless (but tired!) worker, a loyal friend. She’s organized, collected and calm in nearly every situation, and I’ve learned so much about having a backbone from her. She’s the precious collector of our family’s stories, the historian who has preserved so many memories for all of us — and she would do anything for her family. Anything. And we’d do anything for her!

We don’t say it often enough, so I’ll shout it from the digital rooftops: we love you, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day weekend. Can’t wait to celebrate with you!

And to all the mothers reading, whether your children are here or in your heart, thanks for being outstanding. Love and hugs!

P.S. Thank you all so, so very much for your packing tips on yesterday’s post. They were all incredibly helpful, and I felt relieved — and inspired! — enough to actually start tackling different corners last night. We made some good progress, and I’m very thankful for your encouragement!

A moment of illumination

My mother is a collector of quotes. A strong believer in the soothing power of knowledge, Mom has always turned to books when confronted with any problem, issue, question. In her strong mind, there is nothing that can’t be cured with the assistance of a well-written tome. She seeks their wisdom like a sapling to light, always straining to grow and become more.

Like me, Mom loves calendars — and has a page-a-day version on her desk, one of many that have helped her greet the day over the years. This year’s is a collection of quotes encouraging us to “believe in ourselves.” Whenever Mom finds one she thinks will inspire my sister or me, she tucks them in places for us to find. Digging around in my purse on many occasions, I’ve run fingernail-first into a slip of paper with Mom’s careful script in the margin.

Mom collects these scraps of wisdom — and then shares them with me. The one above, from writer Elizabeth Hardwick, landed in my palm with another message from my mother: “For Megan and her book blog.” And I read it and I read it, nodding all the while, thinking about the places books have taken me. The scenes through which I have traveled, and the people I’ve met. The way books have comforted me, boosted me, helped me become more than what I am: a 26-year-old writer in the suburbs, fumbling her way through a world that often seems both familiar and foreign.

I feel like I’m never going to stop learning and growing — and I can only hope that the wonderful stories that have provided the backdrop to my brightest and darkest days will always be here, ready to lend a moment of illumination. Ready to inspire and teach and encourage.

Just like my mom, who has believed in me for so long. And a woman I believe in with all my heart.