I Will Teach My Children The Art Of Living

My children will eat Indian food. We will become friends with the owner of the Indian restaurant that’s two blocks down the street from us and he’ll add extra garlic naan to our order and take them into the kitchen to show them how it is cooked in the clay oven. They’ll watch the dough rise like it’s magic—they’ll exercise the bone of curiosity from the very beginning. When the sky is clear and the stars are out, we will eat in the backyard even when it is cold. We will wrap ourselves in blankets and scarves and my children will complain about how freezing it is and how the food is too spicy, and when they’re 31 having dinner at their in-law’s house on gold plated china with their napkin folded neatly in their lap, they’ll call me and say, “Mom, we get it.”

My children and I will swim in the ocean at sunrise before school begins. We’ll rise at the crack of dawn to cotton candy sunrises and critters that chirp, and we’ll dive into the milky waters, letting it wash away any worries we have for the day ahead. We’ll be running late, because afterwards we stopped for bagels for them and coffee for me, and when they’re sitting at their desk learning long division, they’ll smell the salt on their hair and they’ll think, “Mom, we get it.”

My children’s hearts will get broken in the dead of winter, and I’ll pile them in the car and drive them to the mountains, where the earth is covered in snow and the trees have no leaves and the world is so silent it feels like someone pressed the pause button on life. I’ll tell them to take a look around them and observe what they see, but they’ll mostly complain about being out in the snow and that their toes are wet because they didn’t wear their waterproof boots, and then we’ll stop to get hot chocolate on the way home. Two months later, at the ripe of spring, I’ll pile them into the car once more and take them back to that very spot and ask them what they see. Melted snow. Grass turning green. Flowers in buds getting ready to bloom. They’ll look at me still slightly annoyed and say, “Mom, we get it.”

My children’s art will be hanging all over the walls of our home—in frames, with tacks, with tape, with whatever we can get our hands on at the moment. Paintings, poems, songs they wrote, collages, anything you could imagine. They’ll wonder why I didn’t hang a painting of the ocean or the mountains that had no personal meaning to me, like most of the family’s homes they visit, but when they’re 30 and they have the courage to submit their paintings to a gallery or pitch their app idea to their boss, they’ll press send and think, “Mom, we get it.”

My children will hold my wrinkled hands during my last breaths, and I’ll tell them to remember to take this sweet life in their hands as they are doing with mine in that exact moment and dance with it. Observe it. Marvel at it. Taste it. Paint it yellow and use the pain to propel them forward. Do everything and anything they can to understand it. They’ll remember the empty mountain roads during winter and their first heartbreak, salt water on their breath during long division, naan in the clay oven and art on the walls with tacks. They’ll nod their heads with love beaming in their eyes and say, “Yes, Mom, we get it. We always have.”

I am most alive with my bare feet on the earth and a pen in my hand.

Keep up with Tori on Instagram