Piano lessons

Imperfect conditions

Clay had Memorial Day off work, so we had planned to take the boys hiking in the mountains. The weeks leading up to this weekend have been unusually hot. People have been given to muttering, “It’s MAY, for theluvapete.” But then this weekend swept in with a great mass of clouds and cold. Our tune, as a city, switched to, “It’s nearly JUNE, for theluvapete.”

Today was forecast to be unseasonably cool, with a high around 68, and a chance of rain. Clay and I debated the wisdom of hiking in such weather, but decided that since the boys were looking forward to it so much, we’d hope for cool but dry weather – really great hiking conditions, actually.

As we drove into the foothills this morning, the wide grey sweep of clouds resting on the mountains was a bit…daunting. We exchanged worried glances, but we had three little boys, demanding repeatedly, “ARE WE THERE YET?” so we pushed on. It was drizzling lightly when we got out of the van and pulled on our backpacks. A few minutes discussion concluded that this was hardly RAIN at all, and so we were off.

The boys were barely contained by the forces of gravity, such was their joy. Tre bounded up the trail ahead of everybody. Max followed him, stopping to inspect a plant or rock or spider web, and then scrambling to catch up with him. Raphael meandered, ahead of us, then behind us, squatting to pick up a tiny stone, and then running pell-mell in the direction of his older brothers.

I slipped my hand in Clay’s, and he held it in both his and blew on it to warm it up.


“Nah, I’m ok.” I was watching Tre scramble up a rock, and I called out, “Hey, get down from there!”

“Why?” Tre called back.

“It’s slippery, and you’re supposed to stay on the trail anyhow.” His shoulders slumped in exaggerated disappointment, and he hopped down. I sighed.

“You’ll have to let me know if I’m getting too nervous at them,” I said to Clay. He grinned and squeezed my hand.

“You’re doing fine.”

I worry. It’s what I do. I think it’s a hazard of mothering, because it’s our job to remember all the details. I fret about what the boys eat, how they act at their friends’ houses. I worry about things far down the road, like whether Max will get beat up a lot when he’s an adolescent, or if Tre will ever learn to slow down and eat like a gentleman.

I even worry about the good things. As Clay and the boys develop their own relationship, I wonder what I’m supposed to be doing in all this. Or even harder, what I shouldn’t be doing. I worry about how their anger and pain about their father will be directed at Clay. And I want to know why guys have to wrestle so much. I mean really, people. Can’t you TALK to bond?

Clay is maddeningly rational about all this.

“How many of these things that you worry about actually HAPPEN?” he asks.



“Maybe…five percent. Less, maybe.”

“Huh. And…how much has worrying about it CHANGED anything?”

“Shut up. None.”

“So…five percent, and none. Huh.”

See? Maddening, isn’t it?

But he’s right, and I’m learning to take deep breaths and let it go. Today the boys ping-ponged around the mountainside, and though they each fell at least once, no one was hurt. Everyone was muddy, but hey, if I can’t deal with a little mud by now, the problem is mine. Tre and Max spotted a deer off the trail a ways, and even managed not to scare it off until Raphi got to see it. It rained for most of the day, but it didn’t even seem cold, out there under a misty low sky. The leaves on the trees shimmered as raindrops struck them, and every plant glowed a deep green in the overcast light. Raphi spied Clay and I walking along, holding hands, and he pranced over to insinuate himself between us. We each clutched one small hand and smiled over his head as it bounced joyfully in the midst of us.

We passed other hikers, huddled under ponchos in the rain. They must have thought us odd, grinning irrepressibly as we marched along, muddy and wet. But just because it wasn’t perfect doesn’t mean it wasn’t wonderful.

And it was wonderful.


Hula Doula

Sounds blissful and COLD! It's been freaking cold this weekend!

it sounds wonderful! i can see the five of you so clearly in my mind's eye! i guarantee you made a memory for your sons. blessings.


it sounds wonderful! i can see the five of you so clearly in my mind's eye! i guarantee you made a memory for your sons. blessings.


it sounds wonderful! i can see the five of you so clearly in my mind's eye! i guarantee you made a memory for your sons. blessings.


So glad you had a great day. I have wonderful memories of hiking with my mom and dad. I look forward to when my daughters are old enough to go hiking, too.


It WAS a perfect day. The rain and mud and cold add to the memories and the perfection of it all.


I think when the reader can "be there" in your story because of the way you write... that's an excellent writer. Not to mention how wonderful the content is. Great post!


If you stop worrying so much, I'm gonna have to pick up the slack, and my plate's pretty full already, so, uh, keep up the good (neurotic) work. ;)

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