Confessing that I enjoy Phoenix summers has brought on just as much controversy as my decision to birth my babies at home, or become a vegetarian, or not adhere to a religious dogma. I mean, it’s venemous territory to tread, being someone who loves the desert in all of her forms and temperatures and landscapes. Because I’d like to think it mirrors the practice of loving people in much the same way. If we live with intention with people, and within a Place, then we welcome their seasons.
I am going on the third-ish year of not being dreadful about summertime in the desert. Bemoaning something that is so predictable seems like a huge waste of energy. It’s not like we have snowstorms or torrential rain or “actual weather” that we need to prepare for. We don’t even need an extra wardrobe for it. It’s just HOT. Tomorrow will be hot and the day after and the day after and it will be that way – save for a few blessed weeks of monsoon season – through October.
I don’t even understand folks who check the temperature, or take a photo of their car’s thermometer gauge, and then post about it on Facebook. WHY? What good does it do to whine about something we have no control over?
In fact, I actually enjoy the summers here now. I revel in the late evening swimming and bike rides. I embrace the extended daylight hours and the weekend trips up north to cooler weather. The lazy schedule and sleeping in does my heart good. Of course, I do my best to avoid any trips out of the house in the blazing heat of day, so late night grocery shopping becomes an anticipated treat.
And it wasn’t too difficult to do, to make the lickety-split decision to make “sunshine out of sun”. It feels like I stumbled upon some not-so-hidden secret; the letting go and the surrender. But don’t forget about the Welcome.
Welcome, summer. Welcome burn and fire and heat and flames and sizzle. Welcome breathtaking tangerine sunsets and aphids on the milkweed and the return of the hawk wasps and living in swimsuits and flip-flops. Welcome parched earth, waiting with mouth wide open for drops of rain. Welcome days of lounging under the Cottonwood’s shade and watching my children wade in the river. Welcome six people crowded into one King-sized bed to drift off to sleep. Welcome popsicles and shaved ice and a kitchen table scattered with art supplies and lit by the glow of a single candle.
I still haven’t finished Julien’s birth story or JP’s death story. I don’t believe it’s coincidence. Both seem tied together in a way I can’t quite explain, except that writing both is an admission of the end of something. The last of my births, the last of the days we had with our family dog.
JP witnessed – literally – the birth of my four children. He rested his chin on the edge of the birth tubs and layed in the birth space, his eyebrows moving as he watched and listened.
We held each newborn up to his nose and let him welcome them. He would sniff and give them the most gentle of licks and his ears would perk up if they cried.
My goal is to finish their stories when Julien turns six months old; impossibly just a few weeks away.
In the meantime, I bathe with Julien in the tub he was born into. I float him between my legs and we giggle as I pretend I’m whooshing him up from the water to my chest again, just like I did that evening in December. He is my last baby. This feels certain and right and harrowing and heart-breaking. Holding all of this – holding him – feels like the very physical incarnation of Paradox itself. To catalog “the last newborn giggle ever/the last gummy smile ever/the last tiny head in our bed ever” is odd and probably not very spiritually self-serving. But it gets me through. It buoys me in the momentary flecks of grief.
June and July, my birthing season. A month or so ago, I started noticing the light again. The clarity and depth of it and the way it always finds a way to stream through a crack in our curtains [because light cannot be contained]. This is the light that welcomed three of my babies and it is like the flame of the holiest candle. It will always bring me to my knees.
Three birthdays clumped together within three weeks of each other – my heart can barely handle it. But I’ve come to enjoy celebrating birthdays in the way I devour Oreos: all at once. Just enjoy every last one of them and get it over with.
A five month old and a four year old and a first grader and a fourth grader. Who am I, this woman who is called Mama but still feels like the teenager wearing knee socks and a plaid uniform skirt and curling my hair each morning? How is it that time has marched on every so stealthily so that I have ended up in this chair, at 11:30 pm, writing about my four children but still recalling the way he hugged me when I showed up in Arizona that night at age 19 and never left?
I never understood Math until I became a mother. And I’ve realized the key to surviving the piercing arrow of Mom-Math lives in the breaths and laughs and moments between the calculation and the answer. And that 2+2 doesn’t really equal four. It equals infinity; four hearts beating as one infinite drum circle within me.