Privilege Blog

Is There Wisdom, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:41am, EST

babies, girls, twins
Peonies' babies, Ella and Amelia, born November 5th in the wee hours of the morning. Note that they are not my grandchildren, at least not in real life.

This morning I’m sitting on my daughter’s sofa in New Jersey. It’s a very nice day, and I can see blue sky out the window.

I’ve been thinking about wisdom. And I rather wonder what it is. Some young women have said to me, in passing, in comments, “You are wise.” Let’s argue their case, as though it has merit. Let’s ignore any self-doubt I feel. It’s not useful right now.

I always imagined wisdom as weighty. Involving perhaps a pervasive state of calm, for old souls who reach out and touch your shoulder, always at just the right moment. If so, I am not wise. I gesticulate. Stuff gets spilled.

But if, if, I’m wise at this point it’s from living for a long time and paying attention. Living for a long time, paying attention, burning in what matters. Letting age fade everything else. I believe in giving meaning its due.

Some young women I follow had babies a couple of weeks ago. Listening to them talk about their experience brings back memories of early days. When you’ve just brought home a baby you can’t help but pay attention. You will watch even a simple flush rise and fade in their cheeks.

Last night I slept in my grown daughter’s bed with her. This morning I woke up early, snuffling. She roused and said, “Mama. Do you need a tissue?” “No,” I said, “Can I hug you for a minute?” One does not hug one’s adult daughter as she sleeps, not without permission. She turned on her side to face me. I put one arm under her head, and the other over her shoulder, my cheek against her forehead. I felt the little bones of her shoulder, and her breath. She fell asleep.

Pay attention.

Image: via Peonies and Polaroids

54 Responses

  1. Dear LPC, Your new blog design is so perfectly you, stylish, beautiful yet restrained. I feel restful simply looking at it. Paying attention is important. I think when I was younger, I felt the pressure of doing too much and all at the same time, this so-called multi-tasking which we women were all so proud of. It was a crock of the proverbial. It is so much better to be present with the people one is with and pay attention to them. I am learning this now. I can’t wait until my beautiful girls get home from athletics and kiss and hug them and then really listen to them. Thank you for reminding us of this, you wise woman, you.

  2. from eavan boland’s “the pomegranate” –

    But what else
    can a mother give her daughter but such
    beautiful rifts in time?
    If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
    The legend will be hers as well as mine.
    She will enter it. As I have.
    She will wake up. She will hold
    the papery flushed skin in her hand.
    And to her lips. I will say nothing.

    you are wise, lisa. good morning.

  3. Lovely website, insight and its pleasure to read your blog and follow you on Twitter…

  4. How precious are times like this. It pauses me to reflect on the times I have had similar experiences with my now grown children. Oh yes pay attention… lesson I seem to keep learning over and over again. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. Happy weekend. XX

  5. I will not cry. I am a man. Men don’t cry about this stuff. I will though, remain somewhat incomplete until I can, with her permission, touch my daughter tomorrow before I leave for another week. I did not cry. I will not cry.

  6. Another lovely post. My little girl is due next year, and I already feel like time is traveling so fast. I can’t wait to meet her, but also know that my impatience now will stand in stark contrast to when she immediately starts growing up too fast.

  7. “I can feel the little bones in her shoulders.”
    LPC you are an artisan. We all need a hug, whether it’s verbal, written and/or physical.
    The babies are adorable.
    Arthur Miller in his most famous play wrote, “attention must be paid”–

  8. Many comments have been about yearning and reminding oneself of the gifts our offspring have given us. Isn’t that what parenthood, and especially motherhood is all about?

  9. I have the same hyer-focusing feelings with my daughter, 18 and very soon to live in Japan for a year…I want to hug her a lot, and I still see her in her basinette.

  10. Having just read Michael Lewis’s book “The Blind Side”, I’ve been reminded about what a difference the act of paying attention makes in a child’s life. Your children are so fortunate that they have been raised by a mother who paid attention to them, And who pays attention to them still.

    How lovely that you have had this time to spend with your adult daughter. My adult college student daughter lives with me and I’m happy to have this time now to give her a daily hug and to tell her that I love her.

  11. Ah, lovely. Lucky daughter, to be so loved. Lucky mom to know how to love. We do grow wiser with the years if we pay attention, and if our heart is open, soft, and full.

  12. Lisa, you are so lucky to have a close contact with your adult children. There is a cultural difference between our countries. For many decades, hugging one´s adult children, was not common in my country ( usually ). Times are changing over here too. The younger generation is totally different. Hugs and French kisses are suddenly common over here too.
    Thank you for your post!

  13. Eight years ago at the age of 49 I crawled in bed with my sweet mother and held her close. I too could “feel her little bones and her breath.” She never knew I was there, or maybe she did. But I knew she was there. Within a few hours she was gone. Thankfully there are some things we never outgrow.

  14. I do, I do pay attention and your post today is beautiful. Our adult son will be home soon for 6 weeks and I will be happy to hug him all day long. Children, young and old are such a gift. XO
    PS. Love the new blog look. Good job!

  15. what a lovely and tender moment, and beautifully written as well.

    In the eyes of YOUNG women, simply having been there and done that, often passes for wisdom.

  16. There’s not much more wisdom that realizing the circle of life.
    As I put my arm around my oldest daughter, the mother of my grandchildren, and hold her close and kiss her cheek.
    And call her my girl in front of her girls so they understand.
    Ah, the circle of life.
    Tearily written….

  17. LInda – I’m very glad you like my new blog design. Thanks. Sometimes we have to multi-task, no question. There’s an awful lot of work to do, especially with young children. But I agree, being present, in the end, has to happen.

    Lauren – Thank you. That is a beautiful poem. The papery flushed skin.

    Mater – Exactly, a privilege. I’d almost say more that the paying attention comes before any hope of wisdom for me.

    Lori – Thank you. I think we all learn the lesson over and over again.

    Cate – I like nothing better than sharing these discussions.

    Agirl – :). It’s hard to let you say that but I will and say thank you into the bargain.

  18. ADG – I am sure that not a single tear crossed your cheek. And I hope you and LFG are having a wonderful day today.

    Heather – Thank you so much.

    Marcela – Oh, I bet they are so cute.

    Madeline – Thank you very much.

    Nicole – Congratulations. In the early days things go slowly, but then when they are past, they’re past. That’s why I am always so nostalgic.

    Tabitha – Thank you very much.

  19. BarbG – Thank you so much. Sometimes I feel the best writing is a simple record of those times which strike one as important. Other time, of course, I feel the best writing is about as ornate and fancy-schmancy as one can tolerate:).

    Hostess – Aw. And I know you will get one and from your little granddaughter too.

    Stacy – Yes I agree. There is so much yearning.

    Marge – Oh no! You said basinette! I’m in big trouble…

    Mary Jo – Thank you very much.

    Belle – Not to sound like a Pollyanna, because I’m anything but, however, I always felt fortune that my children were born to me. A daily hug for a college- age daughter must be wonderful.

  20. Pam – Thank you very much. I’m very ungentle in many ways, so I deeply appreciate the comment.

    Kcecelia – Open, soft, and full. Thank you. Now I know what to pay attention to:).

    Mette – You are welcome. May you receive many hugs.

    Elizabeth – Too early to lose one’s mother. I have no doubt but that she felt your presence.

    Hill House – Thank you very much.

    A Gift Wrapped Life – Oh enjoy the long visit. So wonderful. I love it when I get to see my kids long enough that I actually get ready for them to leave!:).

  21. the gardener’s cottage – Beyond words.

    EntertainingMom – I do not know. xox.

    Terri – Thank you. Maybe been there and done that is all the wisdom is and everyone keeps that a secret:).

    BarbG – I understood. Thank you.

    Marie Francesca – Oh now you are making ME cry!

    Ali – Thank you very, very, much.

  22. Lisa, your words are wise and poignant. I cherish reading your posts, and do love your new image and design.


    Art by Karena

  23. I sigh.

    Lisa – my Ranger son is home on leave. The first night, I went into his room to tuck him in. He was already asleep, blanket pulled up to his chin. It was a timeless moment – he could have been 6 or 12 or 18. Safe – nobody shooting at him now. Can we please freeze time?

  24. LOVE those little love nuggets. and LOVE the new lay-out, seriously, I might have to play copy-cat and get one sorta like it- it’s as close as I mentally have ever come up with how I’d love QBS to be revamped!



  25. Reminds me of two pictures in my head…my own twin sons when they were born and 2. My daughter who gave birth this winter. It was such a special bonding between us. My boys have had babies too, and the births of those grandchildren was wonderful. But there is something about your daughter having children that is so close. I was careful of boundaries with daughters-in-law…they have their mothers. But your own daughter…it’s just…special is all I can say.
    And I, too, have watched her sleep and have hugged her like my mother did me. I only wish my mother had been here to see the great grandchildren…so sweet! HAVE FUN!!!! They are darling!!!

  26. How lovely, hugging your drowsy daughter- the years just fall away. With sons, it is different, don’t you think? They do not sleep with me but do let me push hair out of their eyes. I miss them reaching up for my hand.

  27. OH, this makes me want to hug my baby girl. I’m thankful she’s still little enough to hug and cuddle at night. Beautifully said … just beautiful.

  28. I admit to becoming a little teary-eyed. I hope my 13-year-old daughter lets me hug her freely again soon. (Now, I only get a very occasional, begrudging hug after much begging on my part.)

  29. Karena – Thank you very much.

    Genuine Lustre – I can only imagine. Only imagine. Oh the blanket.

    QBS – You should feel free to borrow.

    Donna – Oh how wonderful, for your daughter to have babies and watch them sleep. The babies above belong to Cara at Peonies and Polaroids.

    Duchesse – Yes, I do think it’s different with sons. I remember holding my son on my hip.

  30. Rhonda – Thank you.

    Stephanie – Thank you. Hope you had a good hug and cuddle.

    Susan – :).

    Mel – I am sure she will. Teen years, well, we all know about teen years.

    Naurnie – That’s so nice to hear. I won’t stop. Thank you.

  31. Brand new here. I wasn’t going to comment (being new is so awkward). But, I wanted to tell you that I don’t think I’ve gone so quickly from zero to almost crying so quickly. That last paragraph. I want that when my girls are older.

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  33. Lisa, I know I am two years late to this – I was looking for something else, in your archives. I find them a great resource for all kinds of things, and truthfully a source of much wisdom – but it is just so beautiful that I could not pass it unremarked.

    I started work in intensive care last week. Already, I have seen three families lose loved ones amidst really high stakes. That, and this, remind me, again, that love is all in all.

    1. Thank you for reminding me. Love is all in all. And I’m terribly honored that you use my archives.

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