more than one way around

– Posted in: export, matilda, motherhood, photography, poetry

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.” ― Nikos Kazantzakis


For Matilda, who is very often one of my best teachers. 

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Mama, you have to be careful,

you call. Mama, I said Shhh. A troll is sleeping 

under this bridge. Mama. But I am fumbling

with my camera and when I say


WHAT? It’s like I’ve snapped

a thousand twigs all at once with

the weight of my boot. Kicked up

sound. Fashioned sharp splinters from a pile


of smooth sticks. And like that. Lickity split. As much

a surprise to me as to you, I’ve awakened

the monster you so kindly warned me against. Do I do

this often, Love? I wonder. Disturb what is peacefully

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at rest? Dredge the mud and the leaves from the floor,

pound them together into a fretful paste? Color over

your sky and your birds and your pretty rainbows, all the grass

with a solid, stinking brown? What must you think


of my mess making? It cannot be artful what I have a tendency

to do. I wake up trolls for Heaven’s sake. I wake up

trolls who live under bridges whom otherwise would let you

pass by unnoticed. Unscathed. Unchanged. So much safer


that way. You can imagine. I’m just an accidental obstacle add-er.

A bumbler. A muddler. A recorder. A reflector. A bugger who has

to ask what? and what? and what? over and over and once more.

It’s confusing to me then, my Love, why you take me by the hand.

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Why do you insist on revising the story for me? Swapping out the mean troll

for an actually fairly respectable one who grants you permission

to pass? Why do you lock your fingers into mine and say, despite

everything we’ve just been through, Come on Mama. Let’s jump off the side instead.


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I'm mom to four and expecting our fifth child in May 2014. Five years ago I put down the key to my middle school classroom and picked up a camera instead. Now a part time photographer and freelance writer, I blog to share our stories and the joy I find as I go. For more on my abundance seeking philosophy, check out my piece on The Huffington Post

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6 Comments… add one

November 25, 2013, 12:02 am

She is a wise one, that little Matilda! We really are obstacle-adders for our kids (at least I am for mine), because we think too much. Overthinking it and what-iffing it really drains everyone’s creativity. The hardest part for me? Knowing when to just let it go.
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christine November 25, 2013, 12:32 am

thank you. i so enjoyed the way your words changed the landscape in a matter of minutes, the simultaneously gradual and sudden change, like the Maples we’ve all been enjoying.

November 25, 2013, 11:11 am

Oh so sweet. And yes, I get this. Our littles are so forgiving. And their imaginations so boundless that they can change and shift worlds to fit adults into them.
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Kim@Co-Pilot Mom
November 26, 2013, 2:25 pm

They do adapt for us, don’t they? I find I am thinking about something else or reaching for the camera or trying not to interfere and then I can miss details and leads they are giving me. My guys tend to be understanding with me, as well – and still want to play despite my inability to keep up.

November 28, 2013, 4:09 am

This, I just. ..I love this. I don’t even have words, but I love yours.

December 8, 2013, 9:24 pm

I read this three times through, Sarah. I love it. Kids do teach us so much. They teach us what it’s like to be them, again.
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