Exactly Luthien

Luthien took this photo of herself last summer

Luthien took this photo of herself last summer

My girl is extreme, expressive, exhausting, exciting, exasperating, exuberant, extraordinary. Every moment, to her, is a canvas waiting for color; a page waiting for poetry; a reel of tape waiting for a symphony.

Each day she leaves a trail of artifacts marking the twisting turning path of her imagination. At the foot of her bed, hastily-discarded pajamas and underwear. A few steps away near the dresser and closet, a shallow sea of rejected wardrobe ideas. Scattered over the living room floor, a stuffed dog with a rope tied around its neck (its leash), surrounded by wooden blocks (its food); rubberbands and wadded-up, tape-wrapped newspaper balls (her bow and arrows); a stool pushed up against the window (to close the curtains because she’s camping and it’s nighttime); the piano bench pushed up near the bird cage (to let the bird out); paper and markers spread out on the table (where she was making storyboards for the movie she wants to direct); a small pile of awkwardly-folded laundry (where she was briefly in the mood to help with the housework); library books scattered around a throw pillow (she is working on learning to read); a few dolls wrapped up in blankets and napping on the couch.

In the bathroom, an open bottle of essential oil, a tube of lip balm knocked over in her haste to flee the scene of the crime when she heard the owner of these items approaching. In the kitchen, a stepstool pushed up to the counter, a cabinet left open, exposing a raided snack cupboard. In the back yard, a bowl of walnuts picked up from the yard, crushed and mixed with water (homemade perfume); a small boulder on the patio (where she enlisted a friend’s help to drag it so she could crush said walnuts); a wagon tied to a bicycle with a jumprope (car and trailer); a table spread with cups, a pitcher of water, and eight little metal bowls filled with raisins (a snack stand for the neighbors); a pair of sandals in the driveway; a beach towel wadded up under the walnut tree; ponytail holders and barrettes discarded on the picnic table.

Washing hands in a public restroom involves at least three squirts of soap from the dispenser, a roaring cascade of water from the sink, and as many paper towels as she can get her hands on before she is interrupted by a reprimand or a more interesting distraction.

This is my girl, unlike any other. Dancer, scholar, beauty, artist, lover, fighter, cook, bicyclist, inventor, problem-solver, preacher, scientist, singer, fairy, dreamer. And then some. She thrills me, annoys me, inspires me, exhausts me, entertains me, loves me, ignores me, kisses me, confuses me. She expands my horizons, reminding me of what I already knew – that this world is bigger than me – and surprising me with the hardly-believable truth that this world is also bigger than her – as she pushes ever forward with every fiber of her hard-headed wild-hearted starry-eyed iron-willed being.

My lover and I had a dream once, to sail the world together. On the brink of turning the dream to reality, we discovered this girl would be expanding our family. I thought we traded our dream of sailing the world for the mundane experience of parenting, but Luthien has proved me wrong. We are right on course, exploring new territory, fighting stormy gales, sleeping under the stars, going stir-crazy in confined spaces, and learning to lay aside our schedules and expectations to work with the unpredictable wind that pushes and pummels the colorful sail we named Luthien.


  1. Julia,
    Great post. I can relate with the craziness of life with a young, exploring child. Our life is pretty intense lately in the discipline area.. trying to figure that out with temper tantrums and such. Fun, fun. 🙂 But he is such a joy at other moments in the day. So sweet, so bright, so hilarious. I’m enjoying your blog!

    • Thanks Sarah. Don’t know how ‘spirited’ you would classify your child, but I found the book “Raising Your Spirited Child” to be helpful in understanding Luthien. Also like “Parenting with Love and Logic.” But every child and family is unique!!

  2. Exactly Luthien isn’t exactly Julia. They came in very similar packages and they both brought new and irresistable magnetic norths into the lives of their Mommies (and Daddies) but their respective dynamics were as different as the moss on a tree is from a tornado.
    What wonderfully diverse unity we have in our family! And love sails in all directions.

  3. Julia,

    I absolutely loved reading this. How great for a mother to take the time to look around at the things that are the sweet and messy footprints of her children. They all mean something and its just soooo interesting. How sweet too that it is now recorded. I just love it…your writing is beautiful.

    • Hi Tara! Thanks for reading the blog and for your kind words.

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