I grew up in Texas, and one of the many parts of that home that I carry in my heart is a love for warmth, sunshine, and all things summer. I am also a runner – ever since middle school basketball didn’t work out – and every winter this poses a problem. To be honest, it only took a few years in the Northeast before it stopped posing a problem – I just assumed that I would take 3-5 months off running outside, and then started going to yoga, joined a gym, swam laps – whatever it took to do the bare minimum while I waited for the spring.
As I got married and our family began to grow, my priorities and exercise routine shifted dramatically as I cycled through the months of pregnancy, post-partum recovery, breastfeeding, and sleeplessness (wait, was that last part supposed to be over?). I took 9 or 10 months off running after our last babe was born – I missed it, knew I would get back into it someday, but I just couldn’t quite manage. Continue reading
A bottle of champagne has been sitting in our fridge. First, I was saving it to celebrate when my husband got the new job he applied for. The job was offered to someone else. Next, I was saving it for when our daughter got into the elite school for gifted children, where she was in the final round. A few weeks ago, we found out she was not offered a spot. And the list goes on: each time an opportunity arose, I secretly planned to open the bottle to celebrate once things worked out in our favor. The problem was that nothing worked out. And so the bottle continued to lie at the back of our fridge.
One of the more disappointing “no’s” came this week, and ever since I’ve been fighting to maintain a broader perspective, remember that God cares more about my life and my family than I can possibly imagine, and cultivate an attitude of patience and gratitude as we wait for whatever comes next. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster – at 9am I find myself content and thankful, but by 10:30, I’m sad, disappointed, and discouraged. Again. My head knows all the right truths to preach to myself, but my heart just can’t seem to consistently get in line with the teaching. Continue reading
One of the things that I dislike the most about motherhood – and there are a lot to choose from (cleaning up during and after a family stomach bug is definitely high on the list, for example) – is brushing and flossing my oldest son’s teeth. Every time, he pitches a fit. He wiggles and squirms and cries. He tells me I’m “horrible at” brushing his teeth and he hides under the bed. And yet, I persist. I do my very best to brush the teeth of a child who is screaming, crying, kicking, and resisting. Brushing the teeth of a dog or an antelope or a gorilla or pretty much any other creature suddenly seems more appealing. And this happens every day. Theoretically, twice a day.
At the dentist this month, we found out that he has two cavities. Two cavities that need expensive and painful fillings. Two cavities, despite my very best efforts and attempts and all the persistence I can muster. Continue reading
Lately I’ve been trying to simplify my schedule, opting for No over Yes; looking for ways to streamline and pare down. It’s not just that the holidays are busy, or that family is busy, or that applying to schools in New York is busy – although all of those are true. I am realizing that my longing for less is a sign that should not be ignored. It’s not laziness and I’m not in danger of becoming bored if I take a day off. My brain cells are not all going to wither away and dissolve into nothingness if I say No (to the contrary, that’s when I will finally have the time to think and to create again).
But. I said Yes to something this past month. I almost dismissed the idea altogether – without even considering it – and then, hesitantly, opted in. And it has been surprisingly, refreshingly wonderful.
I said Yes to writing a poem every day during Advent. Continue reading
Last night when I lay
I turned my problems
from back to front,
then front to back,
trying through worry
to wear them down
I only made them
loom larger, by slipping
one next to another,
matching craggy edges
until I had fashioned
wall. Continue reading
Today is Henry’s first day (well, partial day) of day care. I dropped him off at 10, rushed to Jacob’s violin lesson, and now have settled down with journal and poetry in hand. It did take me 20 minutes of searching to locate the journal…I was sure that I had one, somewhere, and was fairly certain that it was green. But I had no idea where I put it or when I last actually used it.
And so now I sit here, at a coffee shop, enjoying a “fancy” soup (cauliflower mushroom…or is it mushroom cauliflower?) and my first solo time in thirteen months (although let’s be real: between the violin lesson and picking up my daughter from school, I have almost 115 minutes). It’s a battle, to stop the thoughts whirring in my head: should I have handled drop-off differently? Should I have fed Henry a snack before we left home? Packed him his favorite snack to have once we arrived? Sent one last email about his schedule and what he likes? Will he nap? Will he be okay?? Should I have just kept him at home???
But then I hear a phrase echo in my head, a phrase that I overheard another mom say to her three kids yesterday on the subway: “What’s done is done.” They repeated it after her, almost automatically – a household mantra, I guess: What’s done is done. So I try it out, saying to myself and the whirling thoughts in my head: What’s done is done. You chose to start him at daycare today. This is how you decided to do it. What’s done is done.
It feels good. I stare down at my open journal, the date on the page. What am I supposed to write? It has been so long since I’ve written in a journal that I’m not sure how to start – and while I have a vague idea that I should write about “how I’m feeling,” it’s been so long since I’ve actually thought about how I’m feeling that I’m not sure, honestly. Continue reading
I was nervous the first time I met the men. Possibly even afraid.
They were behind bars. Locked up in a maximum-security facility. Separated from society because they had done bad things. And most of them were going to live that way for a long time. Some already had, their crimes unfathomable.
My trip to the facility was to present a Latin jazz band concert. A few of the incarcerated men were onstage, helping with set-up when I arrived. They were polite, but physically far away in the large, concrete auditorium. I had worn a navy turtleneck sweater, black pants, and no make-up, very aware that I was a young woman entering an all-male facility. I could feel the eyes of each man who noticed me, wondering what I was doing there—so obviously out of place. A flurry of emotions flew through my head as the auditorium slowly filled to capacity. Should I be afraid? What are they thinking about me? Should I have come at all?
I’m honored to be writing over at the fabulous website Off the Page again this month! Won’t you join me there to read the rest?
Oh you guys. Where did April GO?? I have a couple of half-finished posts that are waiting for those last few paragraphs to get written, and I’m sorry I haven’t been able to share more this month. I’ve been busy with other writing projects and performance work, and otherwise have been just trying to keep all the balls in the air.
But I’ve missed writing here – so here’s to a new month.
In other news, we had Spring Break (since when is having the kids home all the time a “break”?? Whose idea was this??), and the kids and I had a pretty great week, with lots of at-home Montessori activities and city outings and cooking projects. We all survived! But now my work for the summer is cut out for me, and I realize how much I need to plan, plan, plan for these kiddos at these ages.
Blog Posts & Articles
People, Borne of Poetry. By. Eugenia Leigh. What’s the value of poetry? What do poets do? Poets are story-tellers who help us understand the truth of our story, digest what is true, and both break and mend our hearts – according to my amazingly talented poet-friend Eugenia. She wrote this honest, beautiful piece for Inheritance Magazine this month and I hope everyone reads it.
The Body Broken Whole. By Jennifer Underwood. This piece is so beautiful (if a bit disarming for me to read since it’s about a woman named “Leah”), and a beautiful picture of community and restoration. Continue reading
Blog Posts & Articles
How Weeds Become Offerings of Love. by Nicole Walters. Words that I needed to be reminded of this month, especially! A beautiful post about being thankful for the weeds-that-are-gifts in our lives…and also an adorable story about a mother and her boy.
How I Won the Lottery. By Micha Boyett. One of my favorite bloggers has taken a hiatus from blogging to dedicate more energy to her family life after welcoming their third son, Ace, who has Down syndrome, into the world about a year ago. This post is one of the most beautiful, uplifting pieces of writing that I’ve read all month.
Changing the Question. By Sarah Wells. I probably need to read this once a month, just to be reminded that I need to “change my question” from “Why?” to “What now?” I love how she reminds that asking “Why?” always points us to the past, while asking “What now?” points to the future. Continue reading
This is a sign that I’ve seen probably hundreds of times along the many shared walkways and bike paths in New York City. Recently, I noticed it in a new way.
Go Slow, Respect Others.
It was like God speaking right into my life. That morning, I’d been frustrated with my son. He was supposed to be getting dressed for school and instead of putting on his pants, he stripped off all of his clothes and proceeded to run around the room shouting, “Naked dance! Naked dance!” (He’s three-and-a-half, after all.) Then he kept getting distracted by one thing or another and it felt like this simple task of getting dressed was taking for-ever. And I, of course, wanted to get out the door.
Then there’s my daughter. She’s at that “do-it-myself” stage. This includes walking instead of riding in the stroller. We live on a steep hill. She wants to walk up the hill. On a recent morning, the whole family left at the same time. I walked more quickly up the hill with my son, and at the top we turned around to check on the progress of Sister. She was only a few yards behind, and the grin on her face was bright enough to see for a mile. I’m almost there! She beamed. I’m a big girl now, like Brother!
This sign along the river isn’t just for bikers. This sign is for me. Continue reading