Ingrid Goff Maidoff - Tending Joy

Celebrating Poetry, Beauty,
& the Sacred Essence of Joy

Archive for the ‘MotheringJoy’ Category

magic is the word that comes to mind

The girls had not met before, but they instantly knew they were friends.  My sister’s grand daughter and my neice (both nearly 4 years old) were happy to take hands and head down the trail where I had promised to show them my magical place by the stream.

When we got there, they climbed on the big rock that resides beside the path.

They looked for fish from the bridge.

And then they said, “now we want to see the frogs.”

“Oh dear”, I said, “I’ve never seen a frog around here, but if you come to this bench I’ve placed by this tree, I will show you where I have hidden a tiny Buddha in its trunk.”

They climbed on the bench and we all looked behind it into the tree….and there…sitting on the Buddha… was a frog!

I couldn’t get a picture that was in focus… perhaps because I was so surprised…

My take-away?  To live more in a state of wonder….more ready for surprise.

To my girls, on Mother’s Day

Lucy1-12-2008019  Dear Rose and Bella,  today is my first empty nest Mother’s Day, and your Dad and I are making dinner for our mothers.  We will give them each a plant, and hope to convey our love, again, and only a little self-consciously because it feels like we are conforming to a social dictate, yet all the while sincere…

But my favorite part of Mother’s Day is how deeply grateful and fulfilled I feel when I think of each of you.  I have LOVED being your mother… more than words can say. When I think of you, I feel a flutter of warmth within me- as if I am in love, and, you know, I am.  Your very existence gives me joy.   Sometimes I’d like to shrink you back down into those darling little bodies still living under our roof…. but then I don’t want to miss any of the all of you right now, just as you are: lovely and loving young women who are coming into their own.

We always told each other to savor the days, and I only wish I’d savored them even more.  I suppose, with this letter, I am.   How time has flown!  How gifted I feel.  My heart if full, today and every day, & I love you.  xx, mom

It’s the Having, not the Keeping…notes on the emptying nest


Our youngest daughter, Bella, left for college this Fall.  Our oldest daughter, Rose, graduated college and has been living in Seattle for the past year.  Last week I nursed and loved one of our old cats while he transitioned out of this lifetime.  This felt like a loss upon loss; the ending of a chapter; a deep invitation into melancholy and nostalgia.  Jack Gilbert’s beautiful poem, “The Lost Hotels of Paris,” in which he lists many of life’s losses and impermanences, contains a line in which he says, “But it’s the having Not the keeping that is the treasure.”  It is this line that is bringing me back to life- to the energy of life, the flow of it, to appreciation and gratitude for the having of every experience- the blessing of it all.

 Earlier this Fall, I began to pepper a few of my favorite photographs of the girls’ childhood about our house.  You know, we had a wonderful time of it.  The picture above is of Bella who was a delightful Buddha Baby, and Rose tasting her first Christmas tree.  Pictures such as these fill me with joy.
IMG_3127 IMG_3130

Here is a big sister, little sister angel costume portrait…


And here we are on a very small and silly roller coaster somewhere in New Hampshire… the scariest ride we ever took.



My sister, Heather, took the above photograph of the cousins combined.  Hannah and Gordon are also away in college now.  I keep this photo in the kitchen where it reminds me of the enchanted childhood our children (for the most part) had.IMG_3136 IMG_3138

Rose has asked me to send her the album we made of her sweet sixteen costume birthday party, and I must remind myself as I let it go, “It’s the having, not the keeping that is the treasure.”

IMG_3140Here’s cute and spunky Bella then…. and Beautiful, Vibrant, delightful and wise Bella now, as we visited her at college and went apple picking nearby…


I’m grateful for all of it.  So grateful I can weep at the slightest breeze.  And I’ll confess, also, to feelings of loss and lostness… to both the excitement of “what next?”, and the hesitation.   How is it that Mystery’s emptiness can hold both qualities of luminosity and of  looming?  I must consider all the past ways, and perhaps find new ways in which to greet and enchant and experience- for my soul to savor and to love the gift of being in this world.

A Blessing for Motherhood

I am reposting this article from my original website with much nostalgia…my girls are women now…  !!!

I am so glad you are here… It helps me realize how beautiful my life is.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

When my daughter Isabella was four, she would drape herself in silky shawls and scarves and glide about the house, one bare hip exposed as her knots came loose. Every color was represented, from peach to purple to gold. She wore a pale green hat just above her sparkling blue eyes. She carried an empty purse, and a book with blank pages inside, as rich with possibility as her young life.

“I’m a gypsy,” she’d say. “I sleep in doorways because I am poor.”

“Come, my darling,” I would say. “It is night now. Let me put you in your bed.”

“This is not a bed,” she would smile, engaging me in her fantasy. “Let’s pretend it’s a shed in the garden of someone who’s very kind.”

And I would think:

“I am so glad you are here…

It helps me realize how beautiful my life is.”

When my daughter Rose was as young, she would declare with great contentment, “When I grow up, I’m going to stay in this house with you forever!” I would mention that she is welcome to stay, but she may want to have her own house. To this she would reply, “Then I will build a house next door, and you could come for tea. Or I would come visit you, and we could have tea. We could drink tea and tea and tea!”

And I would think:

“I am so glad you are here…

It helps me realize how beautiful my life is.”

I feel wealthy with such exquisite memories, and I find myself cherishing the present as well. Sometimes, when my husband and I are working together in the garden, or cooking a meal in the kitchen, he will turn to me, and his smile will seem to say,

“I am so glad you are here…

It helps me realize how beautiful my life is.”


And I will marvel for a fleeting moment at the swift passage of time. I will remember my brief monastic life in the White Mountains Of New Hampshire. He arrived shortly after I’d settled in for a life of solitude, to lure me willingly away with the promise of travel and good company. Now, more than twenty years later, I’ll stand in the kitchen, surveying the clutter of art projects, sprouting seedlings, and crumbs from supper. Someone else’s choice of music will be pouring from the stereo, and baby chicks peeping away in the study nearby. All in all, we live in a tender balance of serenity and cheerful chaos.

Yet more often than not, I open my mouth and out pours a complaint: “Who spilled cheerios on the stairs?…How many times do I have to ask you to put away your shoes? The kitchen table is not meant to be a repository for every stray thing…If you don’t stop squabbling, I shall melt in utter despair…”

I don’t like complaining. I don’t like the shrill sound of that voice. Sometimes, when I become still, allowing myself to savor the divine present and my delicious memories, I remember who I really am. I become filled with gratitude for my life and the people who share it. They remind me over and over again of life’s magic, and the gifts of silliness, beauty, innocence, and play. And I think:

“I am so glad you are here…

It helps me realize how beautiful my life is.”

These words of Rilke are the perfect blessing for Motherhood. Actually, they are perfect for the company we keep at any chapter in life. As we offer this blessing to our children, spouses, family and friends, affirming the beauty of our world and their welcome place in it, life seems even more sweet. It absolutely does.

Good Mother, Welcome ~ Book Raffle

It was such a delightful surprise to have Goddess Leonie Dawson select my Good Mother, Welcome book as  #2 for her” list of top ten books I think every mama should read.

She said, ”

Ingrid sent this to me when Ostara was still a wee babe.

It was another one I sobbed over, creased up, and clutched to my heart.

It’s a love letter from the world to mothers.

Tremendously reassuring, loving, kind and soft.

Just what we need.

I can see why this book gets bought in the dozens to be sent as gifts to new mamas. It is truly remarkable.”

I was truly delighted to read this- how lovely!  I had a small flurry of orders, and of course wanted to give a copy away too.  If you, or someone you know, would like some mothering reassurance, toss a comment in, and I may pick your number from my teacup of numbered doves on Friday the 27th.


For children everything is new.
Children come fresh from the source.
Time spent with a child
is an opportunity to rediscover
the Divine, wonder, gratitude,
dances of joy and delight,
spontaneous songs,
innocence, essential goodness,
laughter and good mischief.

Children give their hearts easily.
They fall in love freely.
Learn from them.
Fall in love…
with your child, with yourself,
with your partner,
with your work.
Reconnect with those good feelings.
You still know them.
They are there inside you.

from the book, Good Mother, Welcome Inspiration for New Mothers

To Reconnect With Your Loving Center

Take a moment
to follow your breath.

Breathe in Peace,
Breathe out Love.

Breathe in Peace,
Breathe out Love.

Breathe in Love,
Breathe out Peace.

Breathe in Love,
Breathe out Peace.

Allow yourself to be nourished
and awakened by this simple
practice often.

from the book, Good Mother, Welcome