My husband came in to the office where I was again trying to help one of my high schoolers work on a project. “Christian fell asleep downstairs. I put him in his bed. I’m going to bed too. Goodnight.” He kissed me as quickly as the internal sigh behind those words and left the room.
Another night without reading and cuddles and family prayer. The end of the school year is hard and with a graduating Senior and two other teenagers, my ten-year old was suffering from my lack of attention. I felt the disconnect between us. He was spending too much time in the evening playing video games instead of playing with me. I call Christian my “gift from God.” He is peaceable, pure, tender, funny, and smart. Kindness runs through his veins as his life force. I went in to his dark bedroom lit only by the nightlight that makes blue stars on his ceiling. He was buried deep as a sleeping turtle under the three quilts that stay on his bed, no matter how warm it is in the house. I touched his cheeks and his hair and kissed him and said a prayer. “Lord, I need to connect with my son. I have no time with him anymore. Help me to figure out a way to do this and have some alone time with him.” It was succinct and sincere.
I went to bed late and woke up early. The morning scuffle began and I got them all off to school with hearty lunches packed. I had a busy day planned – exercise, shower, a morning appointment, a visit with my grandmother, a grocery store run, and hopefully squeezing in a half an hour of writing before the 2:00 pick up began. I had barely gotten through the first two when the dreaded phone call came from Christian, “Mom, I’m sick. I have a headache and I feel like I’m going to throw up.” It’s the phone call that shatters all your plans.
I rushed to the school and accessed the situation, “Are you sure you can’t stay?” I asked, hoping. He could not. As we drove, he leaned his seat back and the fresh air cooled his face. I’m always struck by the beauty of his freckles. Color was coming back. Then, it hit me. Amidst all my selfishness I hadn’t seen the tender mercy. God had answered my prayers immediately. I had time alone with my boy. Time I would never have had without this sickness. All of the other plans for that day seemed completely insignificant. We went on a long drive. Miraculously, he seemed to feel better within an hour. We went to lunch. We laughed. We went on another long drive where I got to tell him about the birds and bees. For months, I had been trying to find a time that was perfect. That day it was handed to me by God’s large hand – a day filled with the fleeting plumpness of Spring, heavy with lilacs, lush grass, and snow-tipped mountains. I savored every moment. When I finished explaining and answering all of his questions, Christian looked up toward heaven, raised both hands and courageously said, “Goodbye Childhood.”
Yes, childhood, goodbye.
What are the moments you’ve savored lately with your children?
our selfie after lunch
As you know I woke up to snow blanketing the ground again. Seriously? It’s the end of March. Did you forget that whole March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb? Isn’t that in the scriptures? Or are the lamb and the lion just lying down together having a tete a tete in my backyard? I need Spring. I need to feel the pussy willows between my fingers and watch the lawn change to green. The sprigs on the lilac bushes are filled with the promise of my face buried in the coming flowers. Right now I am tired of being in limbo and quite frankly, let’s just get this seasonal change over with.
Remember God, my son leaves home in less than five months. He, like the leaves waiting to uncurl, feels like he is in statis. All the energy is pent up waiting to burst into glorious adulthood. I have worked through most of the grief that comes from separating (that no one really told me would be happening) and I too am anxious for him to start this new part of his life. What will manhood look like on him? Will he carry those burdens as well as his father? You promised that you would take care of him when he is not with me. I’m holding you to it. We are drumming our fingertips waiting for the day when we pack his suitcases.
Guess what, Lord? I think I’m making the “change.” I’m easily bothered, cranky, and cannot seem to regulate my temperature. My children wonder why I am so easily upset. I cannot eat the same foods as I used to. I feel like I’m always in a state of panic. I feel like there is always somewhere I am supposed to be, but I can never remember where that somewhere is. I have cravings. I get cramps like a teenage girl. My skin flakes off. I want to sleep in the nude every night. How long will this last before I feel like myself again? How long until the change is final?
Do you see me visiting with my grandmother in the care center? She is ninety-six years old and all of the six teeth she had left got pulled out last week. We thought you would call her home two months ago when she went into the hospital, unresponsive and full of infection, but you didn’t. You are making her wait. Her children are slowly selling off all of her books and collectibles because they think you will come and get her soon, but you don’t. Her brown eyes do not recognize me when I come into the room. Sometimes she does not know I am there and I will watch her for a full minute in the silence of the room. She looks anxiously at the wall like it might burst open as the gates of heaven, beckoning for her to enter. She too, is waiting for you to come in all your glory, just like I am waiting for Spring –just like I am waiting for the seasons to change.
With love and in patience,
What would you say to God today?
Moving from state to state has its benefits. I’m trying to remember this as I prepare to move this summer from Wichita, Kansas to Evansville, Indiana.
My husband got a new job that starts July 1st. (I’m outside his new workplace in the posted photo.)
Consequently, I’m getting the house ready to put on the market. I’m also helping two teens leave their home of eight years to live in a city they have never visited before.
I just spent two full days in Indiana, visiting high schools, young women’s classes, and neighborhoods. Everyone was very friendly, and the city was beautiful. However, I was taking in so much new information that it was hard to process everything.
My main reaction was this: I have a lot to do to wrap up my life in Kansas and even more work ahead for establishing my life in Indiana.
If I think about every discreet task I must complete between now and July, I feel physically ill. I have to focus only on one week’s worth of responsibilities, or I get overwhelmed.
Continue reading Moving Is a Practical and Emotional Experience
47 years old this week. It’s a strange place to find myself. I am definitely not considered young anymore and I am (hoping) that I wouldn’t be considered old. 24 & 13, 20 & 17, 40 & 7. It is a space “in between,” – the “and” of a compound sentence. My life before this time was focused entirely on young children, diapers, meals, cleaning, carpooling, grocery shopping, etc. It was so busy that there was never much time for reflection. Conversely, I can see the future laid out like a long line of train cars. My oldest is leaving home in the next year. Things have shifted. I can feel it in every moment. I am waiting for the day when he walks out the door and the heavy dark void walks in and takes up residence in the corner bedroom. Then, all the children will quickly follow – one by one they will leave until my home becomes one of silence. No one ever talks about being here. It’s a moment in my life where I am curling and crossing in on myself. I am living in the ampersand. Alfred Corn critiques a poem where he runs across the & in the middle of a phrase. He finds it irritating and that the & breaks his concentration. “It sparks a cognitive blip, which I immediately get past, but I’d actually rather not have to go through the process, even though it’s very short,” Corn says. This sounds achingly familiar.
How can the pain of separation be so mixed with happiness? I want my children to move on – grow up – have wonderful lives. But I also want them to stay and cuddle with me on a lazy Saturday morning, talk in the kitchen late at night, or take different characters’ voices while reading fairy tales together on the sofa. I want them to have relationships and jobs and grandbabies, but I never want them to leave my house!
Perhaps John Reibetanz said it best in his poem,
“the plump, open armed ‘&’ waving goodbye
from the end of the old-world alphabet
like an innkeeper framed in doorway candlelight,
farewells swelled with hopes of come again.”
How have you dealt with this “in-between” space in your own lives? What advice can you give a woman to face the future with joy and not longing?
I have something to confess that might be heresy.
I’m not a dog person.
While I’ve met several very amiable dogs, none of them have inspired in me the intense need that seeing a fat baby did (still does–but don’t tell my husband). Admittedly, puppies come close. I might even be temped if I didn’t know they got bigger.
Some of them even scare me. I still, seeing a large and strange dog while I’m out walking, have been known to cross to the far side of the road. My mom thinks some of this is due to the fact that my first encounter with a big dog was a Saint Bernard who, when I was 18 months old, bowled me over, stood on me, and licked my face. I think it might be due to the time in fifth grade when a stray dog got onto the playground at school and attacked another little girl, biting her on the head and face. (I know this is a rare incident, but it means I’m wary around strange dogs).
My not being a dog person hasn’t been much of an issue till now in my life: for the first part of our married life, we lived in rented spaces or other people’s houses (hi, mom and dad!). Even after we bought our own home, our kids were still very small. But now we’ve entered the stage of life where my kids are desperate for a pet–and not just any pet. They want a dog. Continue reading Seasons: To Get (or Not Get) a Pet