Friday, June 7, 2019

Grief, Gently

We're walking hand in hand and she's grasping a letter I wrote, signed, addressed and stamped. I'm carrying the baby on my hip and she's waving a chubby, dimpled hand at the cars that pass us. Maggie stands on tiptoe to slide the letter into the mail slot, tall enough finally at four. She pauses out in front of the post office, gazing across the street.

"I miss our old house. We had a lot of fun there."

I pause too and follow her gaze. There it is.

In the year plus since we've moved, I've carefully side stepped this place. That's the thing about grief and moving on. You get to work it out your own way, right? Except, when you have kids? It doesn't work that way. When you have children, you have your own process, your own path...but you also walk theirs with them. 7 kids means 7 paths, plus mine. 7 unique interpretations. 7 hearts mending in 7 different ways.

You'd think I would've realized it, but it wasn't until my oldest son was driving me home from the grocery store a few months back that I saw it clearly.  Driving permit still crisp in his pocket, he seriously and cautiously clung to the steering wheel, eyes laser focused on the road ahead. I thought for a moment that he forgot where he was going, had taken a wrong turn. In the gathering dusk, the light in the windows shone brightly as he drove by, agonizingly slow -

and raised his hand in a half wave, half salute to his childhood home.

My heart crumbled in my chest.

Being a Mama means requires self care. Being a Mama also requires self sacrifice. It is within the tension of these two things that we live, heart forward, opened up to show up for our kids, no matter what.

I squeeze Maggie's hand. "Yes, we did have fun there. Let's walk by."

The peonies I always loved in the front garden are opening up. I look up at the window of the room where 3 of my children breathed their very first breaths and, for a moment, feel it all. The good times. The bad. The heart of that home, that time, that life. It hurts.

That's the thing about grief. You can't really control it at all. Maybe, in learning this with my kids, I'll find a gentler way for myself.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Lenten Plans and Other Meaningful Things

My Mom and sister carried it up the stairs and set it next to my bed. A table turned desk where my nightstand used to be. The room I grew up in is more than a little bit crammed. A bed and now a desk. A dresser for me, one for the baby. The glider by the window that my sister sent me last spring, the baby's crib that all of my siblings chipped in and bought for me. Mom asked if it's too overwhelming and, like many things in my life right now, yeah, it kind of is. But it's also beautiful, warm, and everything that I need.

There's something special about coming home to recharge and reinvent yourself. I am beyond grateful for the sacrifices made in the name of love that made this possible. In my little cocoon, something beautiful is growing, changing, becoming. It is a massive gift and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't realize it.

So, yes, crammed, but yes, blessed. Yes, overwhelmed, but yes - overwhelmed with good things. School is amazing and difficult and rewarding at this stage of life. That goes for parenting as well. I am exhausted and hanging by a thread but determined to see all of this through to the finish. I'm trying not to get bogged down, trying to find little spaces to do the things that are meaningful, things that feed me so that I can continue to pour into these kids, this work.

Lent is right around the corner and I have been dreaming up a plan that will bring back a part of my spiritual life I have been missing so much. The spiritual practice of encouragement. So much of writing this blog was about the encouragement of others and that continues to be something I am so passionate about and feel called to. For Lent, I am focusing on Hebrews 10:24:

"let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds...encouraging one another"

Grateful every day for the gift of the days God has given me, the people he has placed in my life and the work he has set before me. 

What are your plans for Lent?

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Snow Days

Everyone in Michigan is talking about snow days, cold days, ice days and all the other type of days that keep getting school cancelled. I think we are up to 8 or 9 now, days where the phone rings at 5 am and you hope the kids remember how to sleep in.

I've been reveling in them more than I thought I would. Slow mornings with all of my kids at home haven't been a reality in months. The absence of afternoons with epic amounts of driving that see me home past dark, just in time to put little ones to bed, is like a gift of the one thing I can't make up: time.

I've been so all in with this new life, so dedicated and determined to make it work, that I've quickly left behind things that are still so very much a part of who I am, part of what and how I love. A friend told me the other day - your life has changed so much. And I felt it then, a tug at my heart for all the things that cannot be.

The blessing of a snow day is rediscovering with joy the things buried under the drift of my current reality, not gone, not destroyed, just biding their time. I knit while the baby snoozes in my arms. I teach my tween to bake biscuits. I invite the neighbor kids over who run through the house with my kids and fill it to the brim with laughter. It's familiar and bright, like recognizing a familiar face in a crowd where I least expected it. A reminder that it is always the good things survive in refining.

I watch my oldest in a rare moment, lazily flopped across the foot of my bed, making the baby laugh. And I think of the gift of him, of her, of this day together. Outside the salt trucks scrape along our street and I know that tomorrow we'll be back on track, but right now? Right now the warm center of us is all I see.

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