The Year We Went To Forest School


This won’t hurt. Maybe. By Melissa Lipnick

I whisper to you, “you’re safe.”

I make pretend promises. This won’t hurt. You’ll feel better soon. I’m not going anywhere, ever.

This cascades. You, sick. You, stronger, better. The world shuts down. Triage our life.

I disappear over and over. But then, we have new life. A baby!

Do you still trust me? Promises broken from that hospital room, to school here one day then gone the next, to your vibrant 3D life gradually flattening bit by bit into a screen.

Maybe this is just a blip in your 6 years. Maybe the week you were sick and the year the world was sick and the unanswered game of peek-a-boo will be something for the history books. Or maybe, that week, and this year, changed me. Maybe it changed you.

#writeas #readas

Written by Melissa Lipnick, a writer and artist in Cleveland, Ohio.

Gasp By Melissa Lipnick

It's October and the sky is yellow. The fire is hot, the marshmallows burnt. The baby is asleep in my arms.

You three move quicker then I can document. The photos are blurry, like the moments in memory. We still say “snapshots” and here they are, ready, blurry, or not: marshmallows roasted. Three of you on a tiny red slide. Pajama bottoms falling down. Chopping wood with daddy. Fussy baby. Sad third child. Angry third child. Scared second child. Provoking second child. Loving second child. Moody first child. Leader first child. Anxious parents. Miscommunications and fixes. Hugs and pushes. “I’m learning,” husband says. He means the tending to the fire. I mean at life, as I nod.

There are rhythms to our chaos. Like waves that cascade, the tiny rhythms are these blurry photos from one hiccup to the next. A triumph sits heroically in between. The waves grow bigger and I see them in seasons. 'This too shall pass' is on repeat when we are at the top of the surf, unbalanced, afraid to drown. Then just like that, kicked out on to the beach. Not so unlike the time I found myself spit out onto the sand, with new awareness of our fragility, after the great Atlantic had mercy and let me go.

That evening, after the orange sky and sugar energy ran out, while my children snored, while I sat awake again on the couch, our next door neighbor died. Gasp. Quick deep breath, shocking news. Over and down the waves, under water, break through, Gasp. A soul waving at us from across the driveways under the orange setting sun, then gone. Gasp. Distance of time, already making the memory of her blurry. Quick, quick, another wave is coming. No time for deep breaths, just gasp. Quick, snap, document, remember if you can, then, move on. It's done.

#readas #writeas #parenting

Written by Melissa Lipnick, a writer and artist in Cleveland, Ohio.

Fried Eggs and Lukewarm Coffee By Melissa Lipnick

“Please tell me this gets better,” I text to two of my favorite friends and veteran mothers.

It's days before I receive a response.

“It doesn't get better. But you get better at it,” my wise friend responds.

You, my eldest son, are 3 weeks old. Every expectation of motherhood is scrambled, fried, and tossed in the air. The plate lands food side down. It took only a moment to birth a new life and leave behind another.

The next six years I do get better at it. With more babies, a mortgage, and webs weaved between it all, I can support more without spilling on the floor.

If I am being too abstract, dear child, it's because the new me that was born that day is getting mixed up in the mess. Every day I dig into the oatmeal plastered dishes, hide from the library fines, follow another parenting blog, and search in the crevices of this old couch that I am. I'm searching for bread crumbs, because I got better at figuring out you, but I got worse at knowing me.

I need to pour myself a nice, hot cup of coffee instead of my lukewarm microwaved mug, and I like my coffee strong, black, and unfancy. So I am writing because maybe I'll make sense of a few things while pouring out my hot coffee onto the page. Maybe I will make sense of this me, in between getting better at the balancing act of parenting you, and you, and you, and you, my dear children.

#motherhood #parenting #writeas #readas #pandemicparenting

Written by Melissa Lipnick, a writer and artist in Cleveland, Ohio.