Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.


Posted on | December 9, 2015 | 1 Comment

When I was growing up, you actually had to read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to explore Middle-earth.  I mean, the entire 1,000,000 pages.  There were no movies and no online discussion forums.  Now that I am in my forties I realize I could have skipped all the novels and just waited until I had kids in elementary school, middle school, and high school all at the same time to experience that bizarre and fantastical area stuck between two worlds.  A place of shifting alliances, constantly passing between light and darkness, where the unexpected is always around the corner.  An epic journey that leaves everyone older, wiser, and, hopefully, appreciative of the hobbit-hole called home.

During the past week I took Big, Pretty, and Middle to their first rock concert.  And I do mean, rock concert.  While my first concert was sitting across the arena from my parents at a Neil Diamond show, my kids enjoyed The Struts, New Politics, Bastille, Awolnation, and Fall Out Boy together at an event just outside Washington, D.C.

There was head banging and guitar throwing and drummers that you thought were wearing a shirt but were actually shirtless and covered in tattoos.  A lot of tattoos.  All of these groups have music that plays on regular radio stations, which kind of tricked me into thinking it was all family fun.  But the live show didn’t come with radio edits and the parts of their albums that didn’t make it to the radio but were included in the concert were definitely NC-17.  And I was there with a 12, 14, and 16 year old.  That’s the thing about Middle-earth.  One minute you’re humming along to an acoustic version of Pompeii by Bastille and the next you’re listening to MF by Awolnation.  Which stands for exactly what you think it stands for.

It was all very confusing.  Because the responsible, grown up part of me felt like it was inappropriate for young children.  And worried that I had just obliterated all those years of hauling them to Sunday school.  But another part of me was enjoying a lot of the music.  And the fancy stage lights and the wild antics of the lead singers and the drumming.  Which, as Middle pointed out, was so powerful that it was making his clothes vibrate.  Now, that’s a concert!  Also, I hated to leave early after we paid more than $50 a ticket and I was pleased when we got 5 bands and 6 full hours of music for our money.  So I was sitting there contemplating money and morals and child-rearing and I looked around thinking…

I’m just going to say that there weren’t a lot more adultier looking adults than me at that rock concert and leave it at that.

Before I could get adapted to this curious new world where kids listen to rock music, sleep in, make their own waffles in the hotel breakfast room, and discuss politics as we watch the morning news, we stopped to visit a friend in D.C. who just gave birth to her fourth child.  I thought I had enough experience to handle newborns.  Until we wandered down the baby aisle to pick up diapers, which apparently not only come in sizes now but in activity level (swaddlers and snugglers vs. cruisers and little movers) and baby wipes which are now eco-friendly, unscented, and chemical free.   Unlike the wipes apparently loaded with carcinogens and hormone disrupters that I used to clean my kids’ butts.  It was mind-boggling.

I didn’t really feel comfortable until we arrived at her house and as we opened the door we could hear that baby squawking.  Babies might have fancier diapers and safer wipes but they still cry the same way.  They still bob their heads around, testing their scrawny little necks, rooting against everything, hoping for a nipple, blinking and squinting and trying to focus on our blobs of a face.  And then they grab onto your finger with their sweet little hand and, oh, my gosh, it’s just like being back where you started.   Until Pretty takes over and then I’m looking at my 14 year old holding my college friend’s 3 week old.  Oh, what an amazing, unbelievable journey that carries us down such random paths and yet leaves us standing in the same place in the end.

I only had the four hour car ride to recover from cruising college stores for comics and records (who knew they made and sold records anymore?!) and rocking babies and admiring preschool drawings.  Because as soon as I finished the long ride back home, I landed on our small town sidewalk in anticipation of the local Christmas parade with Middle and Little and their crew of friends.  Having to force them to bundle up in pants and coats (No, you cannot wear shorts to a night parade when it is only 38 degrees).  Reminding them to cross at the crosswalk.  Taking away their football after they tossed it into the road twice.  Keeping them from running between the floats to grab candy thrown into the street.  And trying to ignore the general pushing and shoving and roughhousing that counts as playing among the elementary school crowd.  If it wasn’t for the camels, it would drive you to the eggnog.

But the journey wasn’t over yet.  I managed to get everyone into their rooms and under their covers by 11pm after the parade.  Which was late but better than the 1am when we crawled into bed after the concert.  I worked a lovely EMS shift which was child-free and included free chocolate cake (my 2 favorite reasons to go to work) and stumbled home for a few hours of sleep before Little’s birthday celebration.  He and a friend were turning 11 this week and decided to share a soccer party.  Meaning I had another mother to share planning and preparing and supervising.  Plus she brought her husband to take all the pictures and a delicious homemade lemon poppyseed cake perfectly decorated like a soccer ball.  Best.  Party.  Ever.

Reminding me that all these milestones are worth every bit of sleep deprived chaos.  Also of when I was young enough to consider it fun to run around, sweating, for two hours, instead of just chocolate-cake-induced exercise.  And when pizza and a passel of good friends was the best way to pass a Sunday afternoon.  Which, actually, hasn’t changed over the years at all.

So Little took a few more steps away from his baby days and a few steps closer to the teenage years of his siblings.  And when we got home it was time to pick up Big from his first ever work party—–his boss treating all the employees to dinner at Olive Garden for Christmas.  Which he had never been to before.  Which tells you what kind of country bumpkins we are, in case this blog hasn’t made that very clear.  My strangely tilting world, balanced between Big and Little here in the Middle-earth, slowly tipping toward the kids grown and gone and me sitting in that little hobbit-hole.  What happens then?

Well, it’s true, off course…

…The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say…

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

But I’m going to bet on some reading and spinning and knitting and gardening.  And sleeping.  Lots and lots of sleeping.


One Response to “Middle-earth.”

  1. Lisa Dumain
    December 15th, 2015 @ 9:18 am

    Funny. Beautiful. You made me cry. I am right there in middle earth with you.

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