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Thursday, December 17, 2015

mah girls

Since high school, I've lived a pretty transient life.  I've called 7 cities on the east coast, midwest, and now pacific northwest home.  Each of these moves and places felt like a stepping stone to the next.  We always knew that we would be moving on and that city, neighborhood, apartment was temporary.  And when we left to go to the next place, our eyes were forward.  Excited, and extremely anxious about a new start.

Two of our moves were halfway across the country, to cities in which we knew no one.  One of these cities I had never even visited before we were apartment hunting.  Starting from scratch.  Clean slate.  New beginning.  Those were hard moves.  Moves that took years to let the dust settle and begin to feel like home.

When we got to Seattle, we stopped looking forward and started looking around.  We were home.  Forever home.  No more moves, no more having to build new community, no more learning my way around a new place.  We planted our family tree right here and watered it and begin to watch the roots grow down and the branches grow up.  The rich soil nurtured our tree and, in a few years time, we found ourselves with some amazing friends and a love of this emerald city.

Since we had reached what we hope to be our final destination, I naively assumed that everyone else here had too.  Not sure why I did that.  I secretly hoped that my small group of 6 girls would be the same small group for the next 30 years.  That so much time and history and shared experience would knit our families together in ways I can't even imagine.  I'm a dreamer.  I know.

This group has been life blood to me.  Family standing in.  They have rallied around me in good times and bad, supported me through miscarriage, births, sickness, and the utter craziness that sometimes feels like my life.  They are the women that have kept my kids and cleaned my house, brought meals and chocolate, written endless words of encouragement, celebrated good things, shared uncountable glasses of wine and commiserated over messy houses and messy hearts.

They are women who hem me in and call me out.  We say hard things.  We have each other's backs.  We build each other up.  We laugh, a lot.  We send hail Mary texts to ask for help and rally around one another.  We send pictures of our massive laundry piles and dirty kitchens and utter nonsense to brighten each other's days.  This stay-at-home mom business can be lonely work, so we say, "Hey, you're not alone," in a million different ways.  

Quickly and mostly unexpectedly, two members of our group are moving.  These are good moves for them and for their families...exciting adventures that will lead to a new life somewhere else.  I'm happy for them and looking forward to see what God has in store for them.  These are powerhouse women, who live on the front lines of life and impact everyone around them for the better.  These new cities are getting ready to get their socks blessed right off.

But I'm also reeling a bit today and sad.  These girls are family to me, and it feels like my family and support system is breaking up.  For the first time, I'm not the one looking forward and anticipating a new start.   I'm the one watching someone else move on, and that feels strange and unsettling. I'm restless and want my own transition, so I don't have to go through the hard work that is staying put and plowing through.  I'm going to miss these girls so much, and though I know it's what's best and we will still be in contact, it feels like a huge loss in my daily life.

For a person who's moved so many times, I don't like change.  When I find a mascara or a pen that I like, I buy the same one over and over again, and it makes me so upset when they discontinue it.  I get rattled when I update the software on my phone or computer and things work differently.  Reality, though, is that the only constant in life is change.  And in order to thrive, I have to accept each day and each person as a gift.  I have to live in the present and be thankful for that moment, instead of assuming that it will always be there or even that it will be better in the future.  So many moments to be thankful for with these women.

Mah girls, I love you.  It's been an amazing ride.  You will be missed more than you can fathom.  I'll be cheering you on from here.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Is this thing still on???

I finally launched this blog, and then promptly left you hanging.  There have been no margins lately.  We are full.  From morning to evening and all through the night, we are full.

My mind has been spinning lately with so many things.  Mostly though, my thoughts are consumed by my son.  My beautiful, sweet baby boy whose three year old mind is reeling with some big emotions...trying to figure out where he now fits into this family of five and his new middle child role.  And where his three year old mind has trouble holding and channelling those emotions, his three year old body lashes out.  He hits, kicks, spits, scratches, throws things (mostly at people).  He screams, his little body shakes with anger, and his eyes shoot splinters into mine that travel right to my heart.  The smallest thing will set him off, and I find my adrenaline pumping any time I am with him because I never know when he will explode or what form it will take.  I feel assaulted all day long.  I fear for the safety of our baby if he is close to her.

He has started having trouble going to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night almost every night, waking again at 4 or 5am and crawling into our bed...but often with a level of anger already simmering under the surface just daring you to not be sharing enough of your pillow or giving him space in the wrong place.  The lack of sleep just exacerbates the inability to handle his emotions.  The Leif I know is buried somewhere underneath all that rage.  I miss him so much.

It's apparent that a lot of issues are stemming from a change in the amount of attention I am able to give him since the baby was born 5 months ago, and consequently a desire to be with me all the time.  He wants all my attention, but I can only give him so much.  There is only so much of me to go around.  We are trying to be creative with some extra time one on one with him...I even took him to my 7 am dentist appointment...but it never seems to be enough and he's left craving more when it's over.

There's a line in the Positive Discipline book that says,  "A disobedient child is a discouraged child."  I can't get that out of my head.  He seems so discouraged.  We are firm with him and tell him that we will not let him hurt someone else, but we might not employ some of the tactics that work for other families or even for our older daughter.  Some people watch what's happening in our family and will immediately judge.  Why is she not putting him in time out (which for Leif in a rage would involve literally just locking him in a room and him escalating and escalating)?  Why is she letting him move to a different spot at the dinner table to sit by her?  Why would she take him to her dentist appointment and not just tell him no? She must not be a very good mom if her son is screaming and hitting her in the Target check out line.  

We are doing our very best to figure out how to pull him out of this downward spiral.  What we know is that conventional wisdom or advice does not help and is not what we need.   Please see my child as someone who is hurting, not just a bratty kid.  When I am hurting, I lash out.  I am angry.  My emotions lie close to the surface and I have trouble controlling them.  He does too.

A few weeks ago, I bought a necklace that spells out the word beloved in morse code.  I bought it because Leif's name means beloved and wearing it was a reminder to me that he is my beloved, no matter how angry he is or how angry I am.

He is my beloved.

One morning, he wanted to sit on my lap during breakfast.  As we sat, I said, "Hey Leif, I want to show you something.  Do you see my necklace?"  I told him how his name means beloved and how I wear the necklace to remind me of him all day long and how much I love him.  He reached out with a mean look on his face, grabbed it in his little hand, and very intentionally ripped it off my neck, breaking the chain.  I just burst into tears, uncontrollable sobs surprising me.

As he crouched on the floor after that watching me,  I knew that how I react to him in that moment mattered.  That as much as I wanted to yell at him, that would break him along with my necklace.  I told him that I love him, that I forgive him for breaking my necklace, that nothing he can do can make me love him any less.  I asked if I could hold him.  He refused and moved away from me.  That was crushing to my heart.  I am lost in how to love him.  He is lost in how to receive it.

The symbolism isn't lost on me.  We are God's beloved.  I am.  You are.  Leif is.  How often we fumble in receiving His love.  How often we turn our backs on God who will never stop loving us.  How often we try to throw things at Him or hurt Him or run away from Him or refuse to let Him hold us.  But He will never let us go, and He will never stop loving us.

My heart breaks for my son.  I want to help him.  I want to take away his rage.  I don't know how.

The only thing I know to do is keep loving him.

Love him and try my very best to keep my anger and exhaustion in check.  Love him when I lose it and yell.  Love him and remember that I broke God's heart too (and probably also my mother's at some point).  Love him in the good.  Love him in the bad.  Love him when I don't understand him.  Love him when he makes me mad.  Love him when he reaches out for me in both positive and negative ways.  Love him when his laughter is infectious.  Love him when he's dancing in the living room.  Love him when he scratches the baby.  Love him when he wants to snuggle me. Love him when he loves me back.  Love him when he pushes me away.  Love him in the morning.  Love him in the evening.  Love him in the middle of the night.  Love him.

I know that this too shall pass.  But just because it passes doesn't mean that it isn't hard right now.  It doesn't mean that what we do in this moment doesn't matter.

Keep loving when it's hard, y'all.  Keep receiving it when it's hard too.  We are all worth that.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Well, here we are.  You and me.  It's been a long time coming...literally years of dreaming, stalling, waiting, pursuing, and running away from the idea of this little blog.  But fortunately (or unfortunately), I couldn't outrun it, and it grabbed both shoulders and shook wildly.  So here we are.  You.  And me.

I read the book Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston in high school, and this one passage impacted me then and even more so now.

While I know that I know that I know that I'm supposed to be a mom, and I love my kiddos dearly, motherhood has sort of been like those angels to me.  It chopped me up and mudded me all over.  In my loneliness, I searched for other mud-covered sparks and found women desperate for friendship and relieved at vulnerability.  Somewhere underneath there, a part of me was still buzzing and struggling to find it's way out.

I realize now, as I'm starting to towel off the mud, that I am created to express - in words, in movement - and in the expression find freedom and release.  I'm only recently realizing that it's not just for me.  That's terrifying, and that's where this blog comes in.

I begin fearfully, yet I begin.  For you.  For me.

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