Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Keeping Track


In winter, we are always counting. Six snowstorms, two with ice, four without. Two nights without power; three days without school. One early dismissal; one delay. Two pairs of snow pants, one purple, one black (never worn); three pairs of mittens. Five mornings spent shoveling; two trips to the town garage for sand. Six hats, none of them quite right. One canceled birthday party, forty guests for breakfast on Christmas Eve. Three colds; one blister pack of antibiotics; four bottles of Elderberry Syrup; sixteen boxes of Kleenex. Three batches of chocolate chip cookies, one botched attempt at homemade pudding (too much cornstarch, not enough heat); one divine lamb stew brought by friends on a snowy Sunday night.

In summer, we don't count. We are too busy basking in the precious light, in the moving water and, in the words of e.e. cummings, "the leaping greenly spirits of trees and the blue dream of sky." Making our way through the summer is not an achievement; it is not a series of small victories, hard-won. And of course winter is not just that, either. But there is so much to be endured here in the hills before the rain and bloom of April (or May) that it is hard to keep yourself from keeping track.

And speaking of keeping track, this is my thirteenth column for Literary Mama. It is also my last. Thirteen columns. One about school; two about birthdays. One about chickens; two about lakes. Thirteen about my home and these hills and my family. Thirteen, I hope, about love.

Thirteen columns that glowed from the gentle polish of Nicole Stellon O'Donnell, who is one of the best editors I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Thirteen columns published here on this formidable site run by a mighty dedicated and talented crew of writers and editors. Thirteen columns read by kind and thoughtful readers who have honored me and my words with your time and careful consideration. I offer you all my infinite, unnumbered gratitude.

Erin White received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts where she taught writing for 3 years. Her work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Passionfruit, Babble, and elsewhere. She lives in the hills of western Massachusetts with her partner and their two young daughters. For more of her writing, visit her personal website, Hatched by Two Chicks.

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I had to check the date and see if this was posted on April 1st, so that I could possibly think it a cruel April Fools prank . . . but no, say it ain’t so, Joe. Who will I turn to when the day at work becomes so unbearable that I must break away for warmth, humor and some terrific insights on life? Perhaps you’re going to devote all your time to that book. Good thing I have a way to keep tabs on one of my favorite little families . . . good luck . . . stay well. Adieu, mon ami.
Thank you for your beautiful columns which were all, clearly and resonantly, about love.
Thank you for your columns. I think I've read them all.
Thank you for your beautiful columns Erin. I will miss your writing and your insight!
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