Category: Relationships

I Surrender: 48 Humbling Hours

“We are at our most powerful the moment we no longer need to be powerful.”― Eric Micha’el Leventhal

Motherhood is full of rich, deep irony.

Monday started out promising. I had a call with Dr. Margaret Quinlan, co-author of You’re Doing It Wrong!: Mothering, Media, and Medical Expertise and I was feeling so comforted, inspired, and validated by our exchange. She and co-author Bethany Johnson really honed in on fears and fascinations of motherhood for me. Tackling subjects like infertility, social media comparison, and postpartum recovery this book examines the history of mothering advice.

After the call ended a surge of confidence emerged. I had connected with these mamas and their work. I vowed to forgo concern or comparison and embrace my realities, which require no defense or explanation.

Then the pediatric dentist visit from hell happened. Screaming children, blood curdling screaming children, clung to me as if their life depended on it. I saw a chunk of my hair in my toddler’s hands. My preschooler was performing matrix-like moves that prevented physical restraint. The dental hygienist was a deer in head lights. “Make it stop,” I whispered aloud. My request was met with more thunderous tantrums but also the quickest examination by the dentist. For her speediness and silence, I am eternally grateful.

We got home in time for the same hair grabbing toddler to stick her hand in her own shit-filled diaper. Mom, forgive the language. As her sister screamed in sympathy, it dawned on me that I didn’t see a hair accessory for a dance costume on the counter. After cleaning up feces, which is a regular routine around here, and searching the house for a powder blue bow, I realized this accessory was in the abyss. To date, I haven’t found it.

I went to bed exhausted, but I clung to the belief that tomorrow would be better. This powerful mama was going to rise and shine. I woke up committed to carefree and casual adventures. I packed all the snacks, took the kids to the zoo, and congratulated myself on rebounding nicely.

Twenty minutes into the trip the same hair pulling, shit touching toddler took off running. I ran after her. The mulch hill had a slight dip to it and I awkwardly sunk into a hole. As I fell to the ground my elbows and knees met the cement and searing pain appeared in my ankle. I heard my preschooler crying. “She’s scared,” I said. I called to her that I was okay. She continued to wail. Thankfully, my friend took off running to catch my hair pulling, shit touching, running rabid toddler, who for the record, never glanced back. I limped to my preschooler so she could see that mommy was alright. When I talked to her she immediately stopped crying. “Mommy, he took my Pirate’s Booty.” Yes, her tears were because her friend took her snack. She didn’t even see me fall. Once she knew I was hurt she demanded to see my blood.

These girls humble me.

It was a tough two days. This whole week has been messy. But I’m here. I’m not comparing or lusting for something else. I surrender that I’m not all powerful and in doing so I feel stronger and more grateful.

The preschooler and I had the best snuggle tonight. The hair-pulling, shit touching, running rabid toddler said “love you” at bedtime and gave me the biggest kiss.

I’m not doing it wrong. It’s complicated, chaotic, fun, forgiving, and humbling. It’s a whole lot of other things too. For everything, I give thanks.

Happy Mother’s Day.

P.S. Join me for a fika this June.

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Silent Love Stories

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At church, an older couple shuffles down the aisle to their pew. He reaches out for her hand, which she willingly and eagerly accepts, and they proceed to their seats.

A young mother holds her baby close. She kisses a chin and each cheek and smells the back of the neck as she patiently and purposefully sways.

A college-aged couple passionately embraces in the middle of the bread aisle. Their hands linger and their kiss is long. They see no one.

After he died she sat next to his empty chair. Weak and weary, she held her post for 9 days. Then she returned to him for eternity.

These are silent love stories.

No words are exchanged. In fact, no words are necessary.

Often overlooked and undervalued, sincere gestures and intentional presence are at the center of silent love stories.

On a day where things might seem loud or need to be proclaimed, look for the silent stories. They’re everywhere. They tell us more than we imagine and give us everything to believe.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

What Marriage Needs

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I’ve been in love with my husband for fifteen years. This past August we celebrated seven years of marriage. He is the ying to my yang, calming force, and favorite partner-in-crime. Our history is worth sharing.

I met him in college.  Our love story begins in a crowded and dark fraternity house basement near a keg of Keystone Light. He sported ugly red Adidas sneakers, a God-awful bright yellow Northface jacket, two silver studs in his ears, and a mischievous smile. For me, it was love at first sight.

Those fashion remarks are what happens when I look back upon our initial interactions fifteen years later. Sarcasm aside, he wore all the things one would wear in 2003. Plus, he wore them well. And at that moment, and even now, I recall his powerful presence.

From early on it was clear we were different. But our differences elevated and encouraged one another. Together, we marched through our twenties.

But if I could tell my sorority-self one thing fifteen years ago it would be this: remember.

It’s entirely too easy to forget our beginning.

Currently, we’re in the hamster wheel. We’re running, spinning throughout our day, changing diapers, teaching manners, working hard, demonstrating good teeth brushing, preaching kindness, encouraging effort, and everything else under the blistering sun known as parenthood. And while we sit down to talk, swap stories of napless preschoolers or stubborn toddlers, relay random encounters, or dabble in heavy real-world debates and dilemmas, we’re tired. Sometimes in our exhaustive states, we forget about the keg of Keystone.

Why is the beginning so important? Because when we lose sight of where we started, where we are doesn’t mean as much, and where we’re going is void of inspiration.

We had a big argument yesterday. We were tired from a long day and weary from an even longer week. And we had forgotten to do the thing all marriages need, which is to remember.

This phase of life is every emotion and then some rolled into magic, mystery, and mayhem.

But I’m taking us back to that fraternity basement. We remember. Now, we refresh.

Before Cupid invades us with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, long-stemmed red roses, or overpriced greeting cards, remember. It’s the key to happily ever after.

Something Brief

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“Don’t Just”

Don’t just learn, experience.
Don’t just read, absorb.
Don’t just change, transform.
Don’t just relate, advocate.
Don’t just promise, prove.
Don’t just criticize, encourage.
Don’t just think, ponder.
Don’t just take, give.
Don’t just see, feel.
Don’t just dream, do.
Don’t just hear, listen.
Don’t just talk, act.
Don’t just tell, show.
Don’t just exist, live.”
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

 

Something brief to take into the weekend. Enjoy every moment.

37

benjamin-davies-287077-unsplash.jpg“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” Oprah Winfrey

Oprah is a word queen. She gets it, makes it better, and then sends it out into the world for the masses. She somehow manages to make me feel like it’s solely for me, hence her powerful influence.  The words above are my exact birthday sentiments. Each year I feel a profound desire to consider and celebrate every gain and growth. Too often, a lack of examination results in feelings of inadequacy or disappointment.

There’s some real truth behind gratitude and its marriage to motivation. Birthdays are markers of milestones. Candles illuminate more than our age. Discovery and delight are found in the smallest and most unexpected corners of our lives. There’s more to celebrate, I know it. In pursuing praise I find presence.

I’m working on a fiction novel, I think. It’s my first fiction novel and ignorance is bliss. I’m going with my gut and relying on instinct. We shall see how it unfolds. But as I wander through this project another one stirs in me. It’s what I refer to as a #passionproject. There’s no lure of compensation or expectation for it become something other an answer to a call. It’s part of my 38. 

I’ve been feeling the urge to Facebook Fika for awhile. Usually, I scroll through my friend list to stumble upon acquaintances from 20 years ago or long-lost friends from elementary school. It’s a distraction instead of discussion. These days there’s no need to ask “whatever happened to” because the answer is lurking somewhere in the wild world of social media. So what have I learned from profiles and status updates? I know people who are doing incredible things. I’m not talking fame. And my interpretation of incredible might differ from yours, but in ordinary days there are extraordinary moments. Thanks to social media I’m glimpsing into a patchwork quilt of these moments via friends.

I’ve decided to write about it. I imagine it will be strange for people who haven’t heard from me to get a request for a coffee chat. Hopefully, they’ll see the value in this #passionproject for what it is, which is a chance to connect. The connection I’m craving is because I see the value in celebrating.

I’m spending 37 focused on the possibilities. In a world where problems reign or occupy the spotlight, my rally cry is to celebrate.