The Maine Thing

I just got back from a week in Maine with my kids. I’d not clapped eyes on them in person for eighteen months, due to various scheduling issues, which was way too long, not doing that again. I wanted to spend my (milestone) June birthday with them, in whatever form their work and school schedules allowed – none of them works a regular 9-5, and one’s a nurse on night shifts in a hospital, which seems especially grueling to me, although she’s not complaining.

Anyway, the three kids living together in Maine moved from a tiny townhouse to a regular house in the woods outside Freeport, which meant I could stay with them for the first time – guest bedroom and everything! The kid still living in D.C. drove up, so we were all under the same roof, and it was delightful. I gave the Maine Crew most of the furniture from our old life, and so the house doesn’t look or feel like something cobbled together by broke twenty-somethings. It was really lovely to see all the old familiar furniture, dishes, artwork, etc. in its new life, augmented of course with their own purchases and given their own stamp of personality.

There’s an interesting connection between Maine and New Mexico, perhaps because Portland and Santa Fe are artsy / funky towns of a similar size, with a local food scene, some culture, beautiful locales, outdoorsy stuff going on, etc. I know people who flit back and forth between the two, despite the fact that it’s a hell of a slog. I was unsurprised to discover that a number of folks who got on the plane with me in Albuquerque made the same connecting flight to Portland.

I packed more or less like I had for my trip to Dublin – cool and rainy weather, and if it suddenly got hot and sunny I knew I could borrow clothes for the day. We mostly just hung out and played games and did puzzles and watched baking shows and hiked a bit in local parks so I could be near the water. (I will not lie, I miss the coast.)  The kids like to bake and I asked for and got an excellent Red Velvet cake with cream cheese frosting for my birthday, along with homemade ice cream (Santa gave them an ice cream maker for Christmas), and some really sweet, thoughtful gifts.

Two years in, the Great Maine Experiment has been wildly successful. Honestly, I had no idea how well that would work, the three of them living together in Maine – would they get along? Get jobs? Get their lives together in various ways? It could have been a disaster. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, but I’m hugely impressed by everything they’ve figured out on their own, including what they want to do and who they want to be, which is a process that never really ends (I mean, I’m still working on it.) Tobin (the RN) has always tended toward practical self-sufficiency and known her own mind, sometimes annoyingly so, but the twins … not so much, especially with the arrival of COVID. The amount of stuff they’ve learned to do themselves (car maintenance, power tools, yard work, fancy cooking techniques) blows my mind a bit. Also, D.C. kid is starting a new, awesome-looking job this week which we celebrated. It’s so much fun watching the four of them grow into their own ways of being, as young adults.

And me? Jury’s out! Lots of introspection going on over here … I spent the first 30 years of my life figuring out some major themes and directions. The second 30 years featured A Lot Of Kids and some major plot twists. I remind myself of this as I embark on figuring out this next chapter. I’m exploring the essential, internal conflict that has been a major theme of my life: the desire for stability, safety, “home” vs. a … kind of questing? A wanting that can seem fundamentally at odds with other desires I have. Maybe its’s a Gemini thing, always of two minds. I don’t know, but I’m working on it.

  • alityke says:

    Your children being so well rounded & mature is evidence of your success at the most difficult job ever, being a mother. Well done!!
    I hope this next stage will bring you all you wish for

    • March says:

      Thanks! I’m in a moment of “be careful what you wish for” lol so I’m taking some time on that question. But knowing the kids are pretty functional is a blessing.

  • Dina C. says:

    Sounds like a wonderful reunion, March! I’ve been to Freeport, ME to visit LLBean and some other outlet stores. Fun touristy town when my family visited. My maternal grandparents lived in Maine for many years, so I was a frequent visitor. Their house on a lake was very much like “On Golden Pond,” the old movie. It’s so neat that your kids are doing well on their own and surrounded by the familiar furnishings they know so well. Love that! Happy milestone birthday to you! May this next decade be the best yet!

    • March says:

      Thanks, honey! Freeport is pretty darn touristy and it was fun — the LL Bean store is a whole LL Bean campus now, I had no idea! I don’t know that I’d ever been to Freeport. Their house in the woods is a little Stephen King for me lol but they love it.

  • Musette says:

    One of the greatest pleasures in this life, imo, is watching people you love grow into themselves, in positive ways. I’m so glad you got to spend that time with ALL of them and see that, in various iterations, they are all FOINE!

    You – and they – deserve nothing less.

    • March says:

      Aw, thanks honey! <3 You have BEEN THERE FOR THE DRAMA and you know how rewarding it is to get to this point!

      • Musette says:

        Absolutely! You have done yeoman work – those kids have no idea how fortunate they are to have you as their mom.

        …or maybe they do. Funny thing about New Adults – ya just nebber know…

  • cinnamon says:

    What a wonderful way to have spent the birthday. And sounds like the kids are all doing well. With you on the ‘questing’. And on the importance of bodies of water nearby. Did you gift yourself something as well or was the trip the self gift?

    • March says:

      My gift was the trip … let’s face it, I own pretty much all I want in the way of objects, and living in what is essentially a 1BR apartment has really cut down on my acquisitive nature. My self-gift for the future is (currently vague) plans for travel abroad, probably next year!

  • Portia says:

    Sounds like a terrific birthday for everyone March.
    Hope the next 30 is more wonderful than ever you can imagine.
    Portia xx

  • Sarah says:

    Happy birthday March. The best is yet to come. We moved to Maine one year ago. 2 of 3 children were already ensconced here.
    Spending time in two such exquisite environments must be wonderful for you March. Wishing you much joy in the coming trip around the sun.

  • Tara C says:

    Happy belated birthday! I’m an Aries and I have the same conflicting desires for home/stability and adventure/questing. What I’m testing out now is the idea of a permanent home base that I’m free to go on adventures from and return to, so I have my security needs fulfilled. Then there’s the part of me that whispers I should give up the illusion of security and go full quest. But that feels a bit crazy at 57. So I’ll probably go with Plan A. 🙂

    • Musette says:

      Plan A is where I’m at, Tara C, and it is serving me well. I’m living at the Back of Beyond – but it’s so cheap that I feel incredibly ‘safe’ (house paid for, etc)… and when I get a bit skritchy I drive to the Big Town, get on the train… and get the hell out of here, secure in the notion that, Floyd willin’, it will be there to receive me upon my return.

      • March says:

        Absolutely! I know it’s not your dream home / town but there’s a lot to be said for that security, from which you can venture forth. I want something similar, just have to figure out how to have it!

      • Tara C says:

        I tried living in the Back of Beyond for the last two years and it just didn’t work for me, so I moved back to my urban condo. I have no mortgage, and I’m barreling down on getting social security & medicare soon, so that’s making me feel more safe, even though the cost of living where I am is high. On the good side, I have easy access to international travel and I can just lock the door of the condo and leave, unlike the house. So I’m hopeful it will all work out.

        • March says:

          Ooooh, a paid-for urban condo sounds lovely! I need to sort my living situation out at some point, I’m tired of moving.

    • March says:

      I have a friend here who chucked it all in her mid 60s, sold her house and her stuff, and spends most of her year on the road in the US! I admire her moxie while knowing that is not a path I could follow. I think you and I and Musette are all Plan A.

      • Tara C says:

        Yeah, who am I kidding, I don’t have that kind of moxie. Plan A is much more likely to allow me to sleep at night. It would be nicer if the cost of living was lower where I am, but the benefits of the public transit, walkability, cultural activities and travel access make it a good fit for me.

  • Tom says:

    Happy birthday fellow Gemini and glad it was a fulfilling one! Another chapter in your life- take some time and take it all in. I think Santa Fe is the perfect place for you right now. Whether it’s the forever place, who knows? Maybe you’ll end up living in Sydney and borrowing sugar from Portia for the next batch of cookies. Heck, maybe we all should!

    • March says:

      Thanks, Tom! Sigh … will I ever get to Oz? I wonder. Portia’s casual globe-trotting is amazing to me. I like to be places, but getting there is such a rough time. And you’re right, I get angsty and then hey — who knows what the future holds. But today’s looking pretty good.

      • Tom says:

        Getting there is a total b*tch. Even as a kid, I used to watch Bewitched and wished that I could just wave my arms like Endora and fly off to Paris or Rome or the North Pole or the Moon in a trice. Chiffon muumuu not even necessary.

  • Sarah B Patton says:

    Happy Birthday March! Thinking of you… lovely post.

  • Maya says:

    Belated happy birthday! I’m glad it was a good one. I like Maine and have had some fun times there.