Out of the mouths of babes

She said it out of nowhere, apropos of nothing.

“Mom, if I were you I’d be really happy.”

“Why’s that, sweetie?”

“Because you have a great life.”

It made me smile. I didn’t ask what her measuring stick was, what she thought made my life so great – I didn’t want the shine to go off the statement if it was only because I could have ice cream for dinner if I wanted to, or because I’m allowed to wear lipstick. I just treasured the sentiment, stored it away in my heart. I’m sure I’ll need to pull it out again – on a day I’m feeling shrewish and frumpy and overwrought. On a day I forget – and it happens so often! – what a great life I truly do have. There are so many beautiful people I have the privilege to know, to love, to be loved by – I have delightful daughters, a sweet husband, a comfy sunny little home, the opportunity to write and craft and cook up a storm. I have enough quirkiness and mystery in myself and my loves to keep it interesting and make certain life isn’t sickeningly sweet. I have complete freedom to be myself and to be loved for it – and that is priceless.

So yes, my dear Olive, I am really happy – because I do have a marvelously great life.

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fallow

It’s angry and red and horrible. Painful to look at.

But look at it I must, as she toddles around with her little bum bare, willing air and time to do their healing magic. No more of the “remove diaper, clean area, rediaper, repeat” cycle… her sweet tush must lie fallow if it is to be remedied.

5205612071_b81df1ccd6_nSo too this space. It flourished, went slowly stagnant, died. And though I wanted to write, wanted to make the page flow with life again, it couldn’t, I couldn’t. I wanted so very much to submit something for Listen to Your Mother but it simply didn’t feel right. There were no words. My blog, my tongue, my typing fingers, weren’t ready. It had to lie fallow.

We had been friends a very long time, and suddenly there was strain and awkwardness. I wanted to reach out but there was some barrier, some invisible weight holding me back. And now, a long while later, there is an olive branch. The friendship is beginning anew. It needed some time, some space, some settling of the snow globe we had shook up. It needed a fallow season.

I never realized how much space between was needed – how often the answer is simply to wait and let things fall into place, to let time and the universe and the fates and God work things out as they’re meant to. Things are not always instantly fixable, and healing – whether physically, mentally, relationally, emotionally – takes time. Its like that boiling pot you never could get to boil while watching – the magic is going on beneath the surface, out of our sight. The burner is heating, the molecules are speeding up and the warmth is spreading. The field is resting, the worms are aerating the soil. And when all this behind-the-scenes is played out, then the visible action can begin. Then things can become productive and healthy and glittery again. And then… then… it is all worth it.

The greatest gift is happening while all is quiet, while things are lying fallow.

 

***linking up with Heather for the 77th installment of Just Write. Join us!

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homesick

4701785354_8d04d96898_zFor the first time in a long time, I’m homesick. I miss sunshine and sandy beaches, spicy Mexican food under meandering branches of oak and feeding tortilla chip bits to seemingly endless streams of scavenging songbirds. I long for sea breezes and late night bonfires replete with guitars, off key singing, marshmallows on unwound wire hangers  and thick Mexican blankets. It’s an ache that persists, not because now it’s wintry and snowy (I honestly rather adore that) or because California outdoes Minnesota somehow. I have no regrets, no ice-induced angst. I simply miss home, and I need to go reconnect to my family, my beloved friends, my previous selves.

 

For the first time, I think, it’s a healthy longing. I’m not pretending to myself that I’ll go back and slip into my old life as though nothing ever happened. It’s taken me nearly 10 years to accept that that simply can’t happen, that life has gone on and I no longer have a space there – everyone’s lives and stories have continued and expanded into the place I once occupied, and this is a good thing. Truly, this is some of what I’m longing to see – the lovely ways their lives have gone on, have grown, and who these gorgeous ones have become. To be granted that window – framed in hugs and good food – feels like a tremendous gift. And it’s one I’m longing to open.

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can

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“I can’t,” she says.

…get ready for bed.
…keep my voice down.
…eat my breakfast.
…take a nap.
…pick up my stuff.

And inside, I seethe. Yes of course because it’s an outright lie – she can obviously do those things. She’s five, for heaven’s sake. But more so because I don’t want those words falling from her mouth, feeling comfortable on her tongue. I want her to walk through life with an “I can” at the ready, to enter situations with confidence, hope, the gumption to give anything a try. And the honesty to say “I don’t want to” if that’s what she really means.

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love what you love

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That’s what the sign said… Let your body love what it loves. The words resonated through me as I gazed at the chalkboard, sinking in and reverberating.

My body? My body loves shoulder rubs and hot baths and snuggles and tea. It loves warm blankets and ice cream, kneading dough and digging in the dirt, swimming on hot days. It loves long embraces and holding hands, and kisses on the cheek. It loves holding the ones I love good and close to me.

So does my heart, as a matter of fact. And my head. And my soul. Really, I think all the pieces of myself work rather nicely together & they’re pretty much of one accord on all that.

There’s a dear friendship in my life that feels like it’s gone a little awry, and I’ve been carrying guilt and angst about the whole thing. I’ve been trying to convince myself to need the friendship less, to care less. And while letting go a little might not be a bad thing – it might ease my heartache – my body, my self, my soul… loves what it loves. I can’t help it. And I shouldn’t.

So, darling friend, I love you.

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of food and thanks and love

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.    

-Elsa Schiaparelli

Having a new baby is like entering a vortex where day is night and night is day and there’s nothing to hang your hat on – no schedule, no routine, no to-do list to give days shape or meaning. It’s a whirlwind of no sleep but catnaps, a place where everything smells softly of sour milk and all clothes have soiled shoulders and chests. It’s magnificent and heartrending and exhausting and isolating.

Into this mess of broken and beginning life come rays of light – the beauty of help. Because truly, it’s too much alone.

Today I am working to catch up on my thank you notes – scribbled bits trying to express even just a little of the immense gratitude I feel for those gracious people who came alongside and offered help in the most basic and beautiful way – they fed us.

 

There is some bit of magic in the kitchen – that you can slop eggs, milk, sugar and flour together and somehow it comes together to make a cake (and reliably so!) is an utter mystery. Disparate things – sometimes none too palatable on their own – meld to become something delicious, nurturing, nourishing. Amazing. And employing this magic for others is such a gorgeous show of grace, whether cooking yourself or simply picking something up… it’s life giving. Literally. And never more so than when life has gone caddywompus. I hold that when major life events happen – birth, death, illness, moving homes, new jobs – you bring food. You give a little magic to help bridge the gap. You hand over some extra life to those who need it. And oh, how I have needed it!

So this post is a special (extra) thank you to those who gifted our family this way, who welcomed Lila and sustained us all as we walked into this new life of ours as a family of four. Thank you, thank you, thank you dear ones… Anna, Jen, Kate, Courtney, Anna, Maggie, Hugo, Johanna, Joy & Mary. (As a sidenote, I find it an awesome testament that most of the friends who loved us this way were ones I’ve met through blogging and twitter. Who says you can’t have real relationships online?)

*written as part of Just Write, my friend Heather’s freewriting link-up. Join in & read some of the other posts here.

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just write

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Sitting here in the Kohl’s parking lot, sweet baby snuggled in my arms, sweet not-so-baby dozing on the backseat after a fun-filled day at kindergarten. I remember when these sorts of things used to bother me, make me antsy…there are things to do and places to go and I can’t sit here wasting time… And I know that at home there is laundry sitting in both the washer and the dryer. The floor is so dusty you absolutely have to wear shoes so you don’t get hobbit feet. A zillion thank you notes wait to be written, and dinner needs to be cooked. Not to mention that we haven’t even begun the errand we came here for…

And yet sitting here I find myself…. content. I’m listening to the wind and the chirping birds, cuddling lovely little Lila against me where she fell asleep nursing. I hear Olive sighing in her sleep and her face looks so peaceful… not to mention the empty cup beside me with the dregs of pumpkin milkshake in it. There’s time. There’s space. It will all get done – maybe not today, but that’s okay.

I find myself smiling as I gaze out the window, and when I look down at Lila… she’s smiling, too.

*written as part of Just Write, my friend Heather’s freewriting link-up. Join in & read some of the other posts here.

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