Not for Nothing: Paddling Against the Waves of Time

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Not for Nothing is’s new column by Jen Hollidge of Concord.

Jen Hollidge, Not for Nothing

Jen Hollidge, Not for Nothing

She ventures into the canoe first, Little Miss Youngest, and picks up her paddle with gusto.

“Let’s go all the way across the lake to the big rock,” she plans out loud. I climb into the back making a less than graceful entry. She looks concerned.

As the sun sparkles off the water of Swains Lake, we paddle out. She laughs when I splash her. The lake laps at the sides of our canoe each time a speedboat goes by, rocking us. I see her tense.

“Are we going to tip? Is it supposed to do that? What happens if we fall out?”

And there it is, the family worry-gene, passed from Nana, to Mom, to me and now through me to her. I long to quiet it, but know it is hers to manage.

I say out loud: “I promise it won’t tip over,” but I adjust in my seat jostling us both and she grabs the sides and scolds me.

“We’re OK. We’re fine. Let’s sing a song and get paddling. What should we sing?” I ask, and she surprises me with a Bob Marley song. I have no idea where she learned it; her own little world of lyrics and memories.

“Don’t worry about a thing, cuz every little thing is gonna be alright.” We sing and paddle.

She stops singing and hesitates. “Maybe we should go back now.”

I encourage. “We can make it. We can. Paddle hard.” She obliges…with gusto. We reach the big rock. She looks up in wonder.

“Someday we should come here, climb it and have an adventure.”

Yes, yes we should someday. “It looks really cool up there.” We ponder for a few quiet moments. “Ready to head back?”

As we turn around I see a couple of speedboats cross our path. I offer her warnings about the wakes headed our way. “We’ll be fine.” She shoots me a quick look of disbelief. “I know that. I know that now, Mom.”

She laughs and starts singing, digging her paddle in deep, pushing us forward.


I’m Jen Hollidge, a full-time program coordinator, full-time mother of two amazing daughters and full-time wife to my partner in crime for 18 years. We live in Concord, N.H. I have an English degree from the University of New Hampshire and I love to write.