Wildlife Urban Interface and Fancy Coffee Shops

The air is fresh and crisp this morning, sky blue, hills tan. The freeway rumbles and crows caw. I see humming birds on the lavender, it’s nearly August. Last night I noticed how much earlier it seemed to get dark as I tucked Jack and Fiona into bed. Summer is starting to fade into the background. My fourth year spent with my children is reaching the halfway point.

“Are we going to be like you, your size and are you going to stay how you are?” Jack and Fiona both wanted to know last night.

“Yes, we will all be adults at the same time” I said.

“Yea, we’ll all be adults together” they cheered.

I’ll be much older then, I’ll be an old lady, wrinkles and a slower pace. I’ve explained to them the cycle of life in many ways, many times. In real time. This week, while in our house we heard a yipping, at first, I thought it was a dog fight. The sounds echoed through the neighborhood. My dog ran outside, agitated, panting. I followed her and looked to the hill where the sound was coming from. I realized it was a coyote, I imagined with a fresh kill. But what I wondered? Someone’s cat? A small dog? I didn’t say this to Jack and Fiona.

My husband came up from his office to hang out with the kids, it was time to take my dog for a walk. I imagined still if I would see anything on the trail but didn’t think I would. As I’m walking up the trail I notice large scat, fresh. I find a beautiful hawk feather too. My dog, off leash, trailing behind me. I get close to the top of the trail and hear rustling. I look to the direction of the sounds and two steely eyes, prick ears, look in my direction. This coyote large, majestic, stands in front of a fresh, bright red carcass three times the coyotes size. I can see bright white ribs poking out. I turn back quickly to grab my dog before she spots the coyote and it’s kill. I put her on the leash and we walk back as fast as we can.

I feel lucky to live so close to nature, in the Wildlife Urban Interface.

Back at the house I tell Jack and Fiona I have a story to tell them. The next night we are looking at animal flash cards and the baby deer card comes up. I’m not sure what to say. Should I tell them again that’s coyote food? I don’t. Fiona says, “Awww, how cute” about the picture of the baby deer.

I think they do know now that nothing lives forever, not even us. They’ve asked me several times if I’m going to turn back into a baby. Somehow Jack and Fiona thought we would switch places in time. But time doesn’t go backwards, only forwards, now we approach autumn. The last autumn before Jack and Fiona start elementary school. Time moves on.

We have found a little spot where time does slow down, a new coffee shop in town. It’s a combination coffee shop and indoor playground. They serve apple juice in copper cups with rubber straws and iced coffee in tall glasses with stainless steel straws. There’s fluffy pink and teal pillows, a felt couch, a community table and chairs that swing. There are architecture and design magazines and exposed concrete walls. They play French music and have high ceilings. The indoor playground has a reading cubby, a rock climbing wall, an artificial grass hill to slide down, a cubby with different color lights, a dress up closet, and even an attendant, so parents can drink fancy coffees and let their kids play without even watching them. It’s not free. In fact, it’s probably more expensive an excursion than many parents would want to pay, especially if they have several kids. But it’s the most relaxing place I’ve ever been with my kids. It gives me an opportunity to study my sign language while they play.

Yesterday we met another mom with a little girl. Fiona was playing with the girl in the indoor playground, me and the other mom were sitting in the coffee shop doing our own things. I went in to let Jack and Fiona know we would be leaving soon. The little girl Fiona had been playing with had gone out to eat her muffin with her mom.

“I want to go eat my croissant with the girl” Fiona said.

“O.K.” I said.

We went out and I moved Fiona’s croissant over by the girl. They sat together in a big cushiony chair. I talked with the mom, who was really cool and we totally hit it off. When me and the kids left the coffee shop I thought about that, that social experience. In that way, especially, this coffee shop/ playground is so great because it’s a non-pressure environment perfect for kids to learn about social interactions. Something that I haven’t found so much other places. It seems that usually when we are out in social environments I am consumed with worry that they’ll get lost or they are being too loud or having a meltdown, it’s stressful. I have no time to just be me, I’m always on duty. At the Coffee shop/ playground I feel like I’m able to be me and be mom equally.

Time moves on. Early morning, I woke up at 5 AM today, is turning into regular morning. Time to make breakfast for the kids and get going on our day.

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Thoughts on Motherhood Through the Eyes of an Artist