wait a minute….

Sometimes I think I am the only person in my family who knows what waiting is. How hard it can be. How much I have to bite my tongue, try not to roll my eyes, keep myself from heaving that heavy sigh that says, “Please. hurry. up.

How foolish I am when I think such a thing. Of course I am not the only one required to wait. Children wait all the time. And my children happen to have the chattiest mother on the planet, so they wait even more than most.

But in the last few years, this practice of waiting for people I love has become beautiful to me, when I take the time to do it…..well.

When my four year old has something to say, I squat down and look him in the eyes and wait while his growing brain searches for his words. I see his earnestness, his eagerness, his excitement, his elation. All those things his eyes say better than his words anyway. All because I’m waiting.

And my eldest, the pre-teen who might just open up after I turn the lights out if I linger a moment or two longer, rather than hurrying off in anticipation of that time of my day when I am finally off duty.

And my sweet, sweet middle son who is coming into his own this year. He is the one who brings playfulness along with him where ever he goes. And if I hurry him along, refusing to wait and allow space for him to be who he is I will miss the play in my life entirely. I will miss him entirely.

And let’s just say that if I never waited for my husband to finish that one last thing (he is the KING of one last things) when I have all three boys and me in the van and ready to go, he would never come along with us anywhere. To anything. And without him I would miss the humor and delight in my marriage.

So I keep practicing waiting. And I think I am actually getting better at it. I believe it is a sacred art of sorts, involving the same letting go and seeing where the process takes me as creating does.

Waiting is the relinquishing of what I want, the destination I am headed toward, the timeline I want my life to move on and creating space for something I would not have otherwise anticipated, seeing where the wait takes me, what it reveals to me about myself and the people and world around me.

Waiting is a such a small thing, but it tells someone they are important enough for me to set aside the rest of the world that is vying for my attention and do nothing out of reverence for them.

And that is no small thing at all. 

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for the love of waiting……

“Well….this is different,” I thought. I’ve done this sort of thing before. But as usual with this third child, the experience seems familiar and foreign all at once. So it goes with an evolving person.

We were late to preschool this morning, but I decide not to get stressed out about it, like I sometimes do. What matters more than being on time is being together. This is Mom’s Morning, after all.

And at our preschool, Mom’s Morning is a special time for moms to be with their kids at preschool. Snapping at my son to hurry him up so I don’t look bad in front of all the other moms is no way to get that started. Instead, I immerse myself in the process of getting there rather than the result of being punctual.

The teachers have an art project all laid out for us. Picture frames. But of course Zachary has to stop in at the bathroom to wash hands before we get started.

Instead of coming with him to move things along, I stay outside and wait. I remind myself his independence is more important than my desire for control.

We eventually find a spot and Zachary gets going on the frame. Gluing treasures on pre-assembled, brightly painted popsicle sticks.

He doesn’t seem to need my input. He gets lost in his project. I watch as he maneuvers a dollop of glue onto a stick and carefully moves it over to his frame.

His hand hovers over the wooden containers on the table, lightly touching each of his options. Feathers. Buttons. Shells. Smooth glass rocks. He is considering. This is his creative process.

He repeats the steps with the occasional rogue string of glue landing on his hands somewhere. He tries to rub it off, but remains unsatisfied. He excuses himself to wash his hands. He does not like sticky fingers.

He comes back to the table and focuses back on his work. He is careful, thoughtful. I fall in love watching him.

The second time he gets up to wash his hands (particularly sticky glue), I notice from my seat that most of the other children are done with their project and have moved on to other activities.

I feel a shove from the old me to hurry Zachary along. God forbid we don’t keep the same pace as the others. Then someone would have to wait for us. Although really, would that be so bad? What treasure might they find? What might you?

beauty in the attempt

I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to write what I want to write. I am tired and empty and spent from all of the relational and emotional work I have been doing and I want so badly to pour out what is inside of me onto this screen, but it’s not working today.

I think I have something important to say. A reminder that we all struggle, a declaration to the world, but more importantly to me, that none of us is as alone as we think.

But the words are not coming out right. My passion and vision and desperation are all tripping over each other and I think, “I can’t do it.”  “Why am I trying?” “What difference can one person make?”

But then I collide head first into my conviction.

And my conviction tells me if I want the world to be a more authentic place, then I need to be authentic. If I want the world to be an understanding place, then I need to offer myself understanding. If I want the world to be safe – to value process over performance or perfection – then I must first become safe for myself and give myself freedom to be in process and not perform for others (or myself), requiring perfection at every turn.

“So try,” I tell myself.

Because I am a writer. Writing has become more than a hobby or something I do on the side. Writing is a part of my life. Writing does not define who I am but I cannot be me without it. No matter if anyone reads it or not, I am a writer.  (http://youareawriter.com)

And the kind of writing I offer the world is honest and it comes out of the very things I am struggling with right now. I could write all about how I think everyone else should be better human beings, how the world needs to change and be a better place than it is.

But I don’t.

I write about my own honest and arduous transformational journey in letting love in. Which I believe changes a person from the inside out. However, I also believe allowing myself to receive love that I don’t think I deserve or have somehow earned is much, MUCH harder than it sounds.

So today’s struggle is letting myself be a writer even when I am not perfect at writing. When the words do not flow the way I want them to. When I walk away with still so much trapped inside of me that I wanted to get out.

But I tried. And sometimes that’s all I’ve got.

hope in the middle

I don’t know him, but he gives me hope. Everyday.

Middle school is not an easy time, to put things lightly. Even now as an adult when I drop my son off or pick him up, I see it. The invisible yet obvious undercurrent of the caste system there.

The power of some. The shame of others. The pain and insecurity of all. Kids. Going through an excruciating stage of life.

But when I see him, I am always inspired. He is tall with a strong build and an awkward looking run. His blonde hair with gentle waves seems to suit the sweet spirit I see in him. My sense is that he comes from a family where he is loved and valued. He holds his head high and smiles from the inside out, even though I never see him with friends.

He is my reminder that right now is not all there is.

Because let’s face it, when we’re in it, middle school might as well be an eternity. The pressure to be perceived well is crushing and ever-present, making us all acutely aware of everything we say or do and how it might look to the eyes of others.

But as I have told my son, this is the worst of it. After middle school, people get better and better and better at accepting others – and themselves – and not being as mean and cruel as they are in middle school.

Except for those who don’t, because there are a few who remain forever in middle school. And there is a tiny bit of middle school that remains forever in everyone. But for the most part, we grow out of it.

And this boy reminds me of that because every time I see him, I see who he is now. Probably not the highest one on the social totem pole. But of all the kids who walk by while I wait in my car for the bell to ring, in him I can also see who he is going to be.

His future self seems to leap out of him right before my eyes. Handsome, yes, but also compassionate. The guy all the girls will swoon over because he will not only have looks but also heart and soul.

He is and will be smart, hard working, and going somewhere. Where I don’t know, but somewhere far away from middle school. And not only going somewhere but also being someone, as he already is. Someone wonderful. Someone people want to be around.

Those middle school kids can’t see this now. But I can. And it makes me smile.

love from Ghee

He is the embodiment of security for my youngest son. A tangible representation of faithfulness, gentleness, support, and love. I do not know how an inanimate object takes on such soulful qualities.

I like to think my son already has those qualities inside of him, which is how he is able to attach them to his beloved blanket. The blanket’s name is “Ghee”, and we don’t quite know how he acquired it, nor how he came to hold all that he does for my son.

One of my friends gave us this once blue (but now grey) cable-knit gift when my son was just a baby. I could swear Ghee was his favorite of all the blankets, but I thought that must be my imagination, the dream of someone who sang to her teddy bear when she was little, wishing that just one of her children would develop a fondness for a security item.

So after one of Ghee’s washings, back in the closet he went while my son developed attachments to the flannel blankets in abundant supply, always lying around handy.

But then one day my son was old enough to point to what he wanted. And when he saw Ghee on the closet shelf he communicated his desire clearly. As the saying goes when telling love stories…the rest is history.

Just recently, my son offered me a gesture of tenderness and love beyond what I ever thought I would receive. Recognizing this gesture required both the anthropologist in me, studying my son’s unique and individual culture, as well as the treasure-hunter in me, always on the look out for glimpses of unearned love.

We had just snuggled into my son’s bottom bunk after stories and one final trip to the bathroom. Ghee was there, as he always is. My son burrowed in closely to me as he always does, hugging his precious Ghee.

Then he pulled away a bit, wiggled Ghee out from underneath the covers and gently but firmly wadded him up against my neck right underneath my chin.

I recognized this offering right away and tried to open my heart as wide as I could to catch all the intimacy and purity of love held by this moment.

I have seen my son do this, night after night after night for as long as I can remember. He holds Ghee in this same spot whenever he is tired and ready for bed, sad and wanting to be comforted, lonely and wanting company, happy and glad to be home.

This spot, tucked under my son’s chin and soothing against the skin on his throat, is where Ghee feels the best to my son. That spot somehow transfers the magical wonders of Ghee the most clearly, the most effectively, and in the best possible way.

And now, with this one gesture, he was offering his most precious of moments to me. He was sharing. He wanted me to experience this wonderful feeling, too. I felt so honored, humbled, loved. Touched by the sacred, ceremonial beauty held out by a four-year-old and his treasured companion.

mac&cheese wednesdays

What is her top strength? I have a hard time choosing. Administration, organization, execution of a well-thought out plan, attention to detail, to name a few. But the one I think of on a weekly basis is creating traditions.

I am not particularly strong in this area, but I do appreciate the value they bring. Traditions give me pegs to hold on to through my life. This world is constantly shifting and sometimes that can be crazy-making.

Traditions are one of the things I hold to for comfort and security when the ground might be coming out from underneath me.

And every week, I think of these things because there is a tradition I am upholding. I think of it as my secret time with her. During this period when time and space and a few other things don’t allow for much.

She fills my mind as I follow the recipe with only five ingredients. Pure, unadulterated macaroni and cheese. Not messed up with all the funny business other recipes add to make things fancy. My kids love it. The one meal I get NO complaints over.

And lately on mac & cheese Wednesdays, I think of another tradition she created. I confess I did not embrace that one warmly. In fact, I think it could be argued that I fought it every step of the way. Independence. 

But now, since my healing, my putting-back-together, I appreciate the strength I had to ask for help, to take care of myself, to separate from what others might think and be me.

They all harken back to that tradition of independence. Blazing a trail. Being my own person. And I am deeply grateful. I am forever changed because of this tradition.

And all of that simmers inside of me and comforts me as my home fills with the familiar aroma. I open the oven door and hear the sound the bubbles make when the dish is cooked to just the right temperature and my heart expands. A meal can be so much more than food.

I will always have one of the best parts of her with me in the traditions.

What is your favorite meal and what does it connect you to?

scraps

What will come of this? I was petrified to pull out the scraps. The process was overwhelmingly intimate. Delicate, fragile, and timid. One that I only let my therapist into.

I gingerly opened my soul and uncovered the part of me that had been kept in hiding. I feared that if anything more happened to the college student in me, she would disappear completely. So the scraps of what were left of her had subconsciously been put into the witness protection program.

But now it was time. My body was telling me. The nightmares, the panic attacks, the sleeplessness, the anxiety. And lest we forget the depression.

They were all her, whispering to me from my past. She had finally deemed me safe enough to be trusted. She took me on a scavenger hunt of sorts, giving me clues to find where she had been locked away for safe keeping.

Once I found the place where she had been kept, I faced a choice. Do I risk taking out those frail little scraps that were left of her? What if she blows away in the process? What if she disintegrates altogether? I don’t want to lose her. She is a part of me. She is me.

She required every ounce of courage, strength, and gentleness I have ever possessed to bring those scraps back up to the surface of who I am and get her what she needed. Listening. Understanding. Validation.

Not judging her and telling her she could have done more, should have handled things differently, as I so frequently say to myself. Accepting her for the tender, sensitive nineteen year old that she was, confused with very little of life figured out.

Affirming her for being so beautifully valiant in the face of her trauma.

We worked together for quite some time. She would speak and I would listen and love her just the way she was. The whole thing was very mysterious, really. How is it that a soul heals? What magic is there in paying attention, giving space, offering patience, compassion, mercy, love?

I just know that there is.

And I think one of the hardest people to give those things to is myself.

But there are times when I am the only person who can make a difference in my healing. I can receive all the beautiful things I long for from hundreds of people around me, but if I am not willing to both give them to myself and receive them from myself, I remain lost in my own brokenness.

This was one of those times. I had to learn to love myself, both past and present. My healing depended on it.

What brokenness do you have inside that needs love from your own self to heal?