• April Wish

This isn't the beautiful miracle of nature I expected it to be.

Day 4 of "Safer at Home," I panicked and bought a cup of caterpillars online. You see, I could see already that we were going to miss the Kidspace Butterfly Festival this year...and we have these beautiful, matching butterfly capes to show off and I figured it would be a lot of entertainment for the kids to see them transform and also that I would get to tell people on facebook that we did "science" and to take out my fancy camera and get some sun-kissed photos of those capes, perhaps use the bougainvillea in the yard as a backdrop. I tell myself that this is because I want to spread and share the light and joy that my kids are but it's probably also a little to make Kell jealous and show Jodie that I'm a good mom and to snidely let Val know that she's not the only one who has a gifted child and to keep up with Ashley.


Now, I look at the caterpillars, clutching on to the top of the cup, turned upside-down as the world around them is, too. They turn upside-down like this to make the big change. I spot one as she wriggles and bucks, slowly encasing herself from the bottom up. It's a violent thing to watch. She twitches while the others fight one another for space. A few fall and have to crawl back up. It turns my stomach to watch. Makes my skin crawl. This isn't the beautiful miracle of nature I expected it to be. It's ...painful.

It's a violent thing to watch.

In the past, when we bought caterpillars online, we left them on the shelf in my daughter's room and would wake up to delight in how much they changed overnight, then run off to wherever and forget about them for the rest of the day.


But now, they sit in the dining room on a counter by the dog treats and we go back to them more frequently and I pretend to marvel at how big they got and how cool it is to watch them transform while I secretly choke down the anxiety I feel about how we are running out of time with them. They won't be here to entertain us soon. They'll fly off and leave us here alone in our own "Safe at Home" cocoon.


I force myself to watch the second one as she transforms. I listened to a podcast once about what happens inside the chrysalis. They become a kind of... goo. If you cut one open, the caterpillar is gone, liquidated. And now, on Day 21 of social distancing, without the tools of motherhood I have so often used to pass this longest shortest time together: playdates and grandparents and festivals and parades... I, too, am goo. Cocooned in this house, cocooned in the news, cocooned in your Instagram stories and in my paralyzing fear that I am nothing but ordinary. I am twitching. Trying to rearrange the parts of me that crawl on the ground in the hopes that I will be able to fly free of the weight of envy and comparison someday.


02 APRIL 2020

day 21

APRIL WISH


  • April Wish

Updated: 3 days ago

There is something powerful in the vastness of it.

The ocean: I've lived by it most of my life. All of it, actually.

When we were little, beach days meant playing in the waves and making drip sandcastles and moving the salty water through sandy pathways we carved out with our little hands. It meant cousins and noise and defending our snacks from seagulls.


I remember in high school, playing in the ocean with friends. In college, walking along the shore by myself grieving the loss of a boyfriend who wasn't worth the grief, giving myself over to the melodramatic idea that the ocean would wash away my pain.


I bring the kids to the ocean to play in the sand and jump off burms with their friends and build stick forts and I tried, always, to point out the colors in the sand and that the white foam in the water meant riptides. They let me be an expert on the ocean. This towering figure in their lives, it gave me authority because I knew that little bubbles in the sand is where you find sand crabs.

I think we go to the ocean to feel small.

I think we go to the ocean to feel small. There is something powerful in the vastness of it, the waves that keep crashing, have been crashing, before you were born and will be crashing forevermore. Every once in awhile, I would forget about the ocean from time to time. Because it always there. It could wait for me.


A few days ago we drove to the ocean, trying to find a small piece of it for just ourselves. We saw the hoards of people gathered at Neptune's Net, the line up of cars on PCH and we thought: Are WE crazy? It felt so... normal. We pushed our car further up the road to the part where the cliffs are too high to bring the kids down. We parked at an overlook and I moved our daughter's booster seat so that we could have a picnic in the trunk. We watched the waves together. I can't remember the last time I actually did that. I pointed out the birds on the water, tried to explain kelp. I hoped that they would remember this as a magical picnic, not as I did: with heaviness. We couldn't get out to touch the sand. It was clear that this freedom would be lost soon, too, to the virus. Not forever, but for now. This springtime moment, when California is ripe with beauty, we can't harvest it. I tried to take it all in. But you can't, can you? You can't because it is so big. You'll never be able to take it all in. I know, of course, that I will go the ocean again. It's still there, even if we can't see it.


But for now, all we have is the virus. It keeps coming, coming, coming, crashing in waves over communities, crashing our normalcy, crashing into our ability to make plans and to hug one another. It has brought the world, the entire world, to it's knees. It is bigger than I am, than any of us are. We disinfect our packages at the door and haven't been shopping for a week and leave our shoes outside and wash our hands every hour but it is still insidiously moving through my consciousness all the same, filling more of my thoughts than I wish it were, dipping over the horizon of my mind, touching the shores of every continent ...and I can't take it all in. But you can't, can you? You'll never be able to take it all in. And it is ugly and it is scary and it is painful... but there is something powerful in the vastness of it.


28 MARCH 2020

day 16

APRIL WISH

  • April Wish

Updated: Mar 27

I have spent so much time growing people.

We had a Chewbacca Chia Pet sitting in a reusable bag that we haven’t opened since Christmas, the kind of bag I always forget to bring when I go to the store. For some reason, Day 1 of "social distancing," I took him out and decided that it would be a good activity for us, something to pass that one passing moment. The kids were excited but quickly lost interest. I became personally obsessed with laying out the seeds as they slipped down the sides, retreating to Chewbacca like some mass produced zen garden.


This morning, while getting breakfast together, moving slowly, feeling as though maybe I am walking under water, I hear Clementine, my 6-year-old, screaming from the other room.


"Chewbacca! CHEWBACCA! CHEWBACCCAAAAA MOMMY!"


And I run out to see that he had sprouted exponentially overnight. She was shaking with the joy of it.

She was shaking with the joy of it.

I have spent so much time growing people. So much time cultivating myself, trying to push the hearty weeds of who I am through the thick, hardened soil of motherhood, trying to fill their developing brains with "nature" so that I could share that I had done so on screens with people who are, ultimately, strangers, mostly. So much time growing anxieties about who I should be and how I should parent ...that I haven't grown anything green in years.


And I remembered the time, on Day 3 of “social distancing” where I got body aches and a fever and fretted while friends told me to slam Vitamin C like it’s going out of style and how I desperately texted my mother-in-law to see if she had already eaten the tangerines we flippantly gave her and how bare the fridge looked, how sad the packaged cucumber was, wrapped in plastic wrap, how silly the closet we have full of costumes feels, how ridiculous the collection of toy rats is, the ones we bought and collected for his first birthday that are now scattered all over the living room…


....and how helpless I feel as though every counter-top is attacking us. And how much my heart was cleansed by these little chia sprouts sticking on to this terra cotta Chewbacca.


And I went online and bought an orange tree.


21 MARCH 2020

day 9

APRIL WISH


day 3

day 5

day 9

The Alone-Together Time

Musings from a mother during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis in the United States.