My time with them runs short. In the other room one or another of my children could be cresting a milestone and coasting down the other side before I finishing scrawling this on a piece of scrap paper in the corner. I fritter my late nights away hoping and praying I am imparting the knowledge I want them to keep in their childhood memory. The knowledge that holds them through the tough times, the knowledge they instinctively use in crisis. I read books about books of parents from the Middle Ages have desperately written for their children, please do this, never do that and think, I need to do that. When in the fray thoughts come now and then, worries flow, catch in tidal pools and only later can we look in them and see the magic they have washed in.Â My children are young and have an age range of over a decade. I remember, then forget what I want to make sure I tell them. These poemsÂ are a record of that. with love, brooke find me almost daily here.
As I am creating my own book of hours for myself, I am noticing that there is so much I want to tell my children - so much that I wish I knew that I am only learning now. There are things I want them to know about me, about us. I want them to see what I see. I want them to know that I was watching them closely this whole time, that I saw it and wrote it down for them and for me. Maybe one day they will carry this mama book of hours and hold it close to them as they hold their own children. Maybe they will read it and write down their own version of events. Maybe they will read it and learn more about who their mama was and how much she loved them. love, rozanne find me here.â€Š
“For those who pass it without entering, the city is one thing; it is another for those who are trapped by it and never leave. There is the city where you arrive for the first time; and there is another city which you leave never to return." ― Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities I am arriving at my city that I have never left for the first time. I arrive as a mother instead of a child. In this city, we celebrate summer. We move in and out of the city. We move through the city. We move around the city. We travel by car, by bike, by subway, by train, and even by boat. When I was a child, my summers in the city were within a 20 minute radius of my grandparent’s apartment. Sometimes it took me to the suburbs at a cousin’s house. I mostly remember being in this city, in this neighbourhood that I now call home. If I close my eyes, my senses bring me back to this city…
“A description of Zaira as it is today should contain all Zaira’s past. The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.” ― Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
*** I hear... Whirring electric fans, the din of dramatic soap opera banter on the television in one room, the familiar dings of various game shows, grandparents bicker, nag, and pray in the same breath, the clink of ice in a beer glass, random clapping from my grandfather followed by deep sighs through gritted teeth from my grandmother; laughter and screams with cousins. I see... I can still see the graffiti walls; beer stores; chinese hole-in-the-wall restaurants; cousins sprawled, asleep in blankets in basements; this neighbourhood - the barber shop, the bank, McDonald’s, Dairy Queen; a grandfather dressed to the nines in the middle of summer strolling down Kensington Market; hustle and bustle of Chinatown. I smell... Grabbing my grandfather’s fedora from the closet, the scent of his pomade on the inside of the hat; cilantro, always cilantro everywhere - the inside of the fridge, the dining table, my Lola’s hands; the smells of barbecue and rice steaming in the rice cooker; I taste... Corner store nickel popsicles, the kind you have to break in half, the kind that you hate having to share with cousins; being fed barbecue on skewers and handfuls of rice while you swim or play in the sprinkler; fresh tomatoes from my grandmother’s patio garden; dim sum in the middle of the week; chocolate milk for a treat I touch... Undershirts (“camisetas”) drenched in sweat stuck to my skin at night; the coolness of the other side of the pillow; sleeping back to
back with my grandmother, feeling the pressure of holding each other up; always wearing slippers inside and sandals outside - no bare feet; the cool spray of sprinklers and water guns *** As a child, this was my summer in this city. Today, as I experience summer as a mother, it is like coming home to a place where time has had its way. Time has gently eroded the familiar where the places of my childhood feel like a dream I can’t quite remember. There are moments of recognition as we pass by places that haven’t changed, places that seem as though they are frozen in time, protected from the development around it. But my movement and the movement of my city is different. I spent a lot of my summers indoors and now I explore my city outside. We go to the beach and to the park, playing until the sun sets. There are festivals happening all over the city and we hop on the subway to check them out. Our bicycles and our feet allow us to get to know our neighbourhood and love every inch as we support local businesses and visit the multiple farmer’s markets in our neck of the woods. The city is alive in a brand new way. As I have introduced it to my family, I am falling in love with it again.
“The traveler’s past changes according to the route he has followed: not the immediate past, but the more remote past.” - Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
In my childhood, there were times when we would leave the city and take a day trip to Niagara Falls or an amusement park. I can even
remember times when I went south of the border, my mother and I tagging along with other family members - a shopping trip to Buffalo, a trip to Cape Cod, and a trip to Florida. But as a child, I had no control over if and when these trips outside of my city would happen. I would dream about leaving the city for the summer, fantasizing about travelling far away, leaving behind the concrete jungle and crowded streets. Today we take road trips to the country, to the forest, and to the lake. I am grateful for the opportunity to have this option for my children to have a summer that also includes nature and wildness - something that was never a part of my own childhood. They can have the best of both worlds - the stillness and the quiet of nature and the sensory stimulation and diversity of the city. Perhaps this is why they love our home and our city. Perhaps it’s in the adventure of leaving home and the certain return to the familiar that gives them comfort and peace. It is this in breath and out breath that I want to give them, to give us, during these summers. After a period of time at a cottage or in the country, I begin to miss the city. The loud and boisterous crashing of people and energy. There is a buzz as the city is an organism unto itself.
“You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.” - Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities On my birthday, I sat and watched the sunrise on the opposite side of the lake from where I normally sit. I saw the sun slowly illuminate my city across from me. I look at it and wonder: how can I love you and despise you after all this time? How can this same city give two very different childhoods? It has given me what I need when I have needed it. Good or bad, it has led me back to who I am. All of my memories are tethered to
thisÂ place - an invisible rope leading me back. And no matter where I go, I will compare it to this place. Through motherhood, I have made my city visible. My point of reference. My home. -rozanne dioso-lopezâ€Š
i have felt the warmth.
I have felt the warmth of my insides upon my chest, Searching for the heartbeat where Yesterday's sorrows ache and burn.
Pay no heed to the moonlit floss woven in my hair Don't let the scuffs and scrapes take your eyes from my face A little bird told me you would listen and not interrupt.
Cold rains will lash and the hot winds will blow but Heart's weals will fade to pink Like the bloom of twilight that follows you home.
if the sun could give birth. If the sun could give birth, she would bear this child. My summer baby begs to move. She was born under and of the sun. From the moment she entered the world, she remained outside. It was warm enough for walks and lying bare on a blanket in the shade. I shed her layers, sleeping skin to skin on mama on hot summer nights. The stickiness of our sweat adheres her to me and I to her. I move, she moves with me. It doesn’t bother her, this attachment. It’s only when I peel her off like a fruit sticker before it’s eaten does she scream, exposing the patches of skin that hasn’t seen the sun. We are both ripe with the smells of summer. As she became aware of her body, she moved with intent, blazing her own trails - first on her hands and knees and then finding her legs and feet. Powered by the sun, she moves best outdoors. On days she can’t start the day outside, the house feels too small and too crowded. Literally climbing the walls, she looks as though she is trying to escape her own skin. But once outside, with only the sky as her limit, she is free to traverse and to glow as brightly as her heart desires. They say she looks like me. They say she has my fiery temperament. They say we butt heads because we are both stubborn and proud. We are Leos, courageous and kingly animals, born under and of the sun. We are ruled by the sun, the centre of attention, with planets revolving around us. Like children of the sun, our solar flares
brighten or burn. I understand the delicate state of having the sun as your mother. This celestial orb, with a flair for the dramatic, competes for solitary stardom, even with her own kin.
How do I let her shine without eclipsing everyone else? How can we share the spotlight, share this vast sky that blankets both our worlds upon which we want to be the sole ruler? How do I pull her into my orbit without setting fire to both of us? -rozanne dioso-lopez
the last summer. As a mother, I dreaded this summer. I knew it was only a matter of time.
Over the last few years, I told my husband to expect it. It came a little later than we anticipated but it came nonetheless. Last summer was the last time all my babies were with me. It was the last summer I had them. Now I’m not talking about camp or a week here and there of grandparents’ stay. I’m not even talking about trips away without parents. I am talking about life on their own. The moment they begin to work and dictate their own time. The moment they have the freedom to live independently. I am talking about the time when as a parent, you are sometimes consulted, but now are mostly informed of their schedule. Now I haven’t fully cut the cord and left my eldest completely on her own. But from the end of last summer until now, she has made many decisions with guidance from us only when necessary. Although she is doing a program abroad, she travelled by herself - an 18 hour journey that wasn’t smooth sailing. There were rough patches but she reached her destination and learned a lot on the way. At every interval on her journey, she checked in to let me know that she was ok. I had to have faith that we have travelled enough as a family and have experienced everything from lost luggage to cancelled and missed flights for her to know what to do. As I have worried about her, I worry if I have done enough. I wonder if there is something I forgot to tell her. I worry if she is happy and what if she needs my help. I worry for her safety. I worry that I have missed something, a key step in parenting that will leave her unequipped or ill-prepared.
But then she calls. She is beaming and she is confident. There are blips but she handled them. Her sense of humour and lightness shine over the phone. I try not to cry because I miss her. I miss our summers of biking together and hanging out by the pool at my mom’s house. I try not to cry because family movie night isn’t the same. I try not to cry because I know she doesn’t need me to feed her or to put her to sleep anymore. I try not to cry because I know every summer from now on she will be attending to her own agenda, working or travelling, following her own heart, carving her path. I try not to cry because I am bursting with joy and happiness for my daughter at this moment - she is at the edge of her dreams and the possibilities are endless. We are moving into a phase where we will dedicate time for each other. We will take out our calendars and book dates and weekends together. I will do more listening because she will have more stories to tell of her own journeys where I couldn’t go. She will hear her voice loud and clear as mine fades into the background, a whisper of advice or a gentle reminder that she will retrieve from memory when necessary. I am nothing but a proud and happy mama today. As I walk my own path as her mother, I accept that she needs to walk her own path, finding her way, which means walking it as a young woman and not just as my daughter. Whatever she chooses to do and whomever she chooses to be, I will love her always. I will love her as she sits beside me to cuddle just as she did when she was five years old. I will love her when she is lost and when she needs space. I will love her. Period. My heart will always be big enough to hold her even when she is a continent away.
Babies like to be dandled on my knee while I do nothing but offer a finger to be chewed. Cloth diapers like to soak all day and Chickens will punish you for a day in the coop. Days pass, faucets leak, ripped screens flap in the sun Dust bunnies multiply just like the real ones. The halcyon days of summer must be met, swum through Before unceremoniously walking away.