I grew up in a home that valued work. My sister and I learned not to waste time, and that working hard was one of the most important things we could do. Following the examples of my hard-working parents, I believed I could achieve anything—as long as I worked hard enough.
When my son was born, I was not ready to return to my previous job after just three months off. So I took a new job: motherhood.
I had worked hard building my career as a professional musician and arts administrator. Yet I believed spending time with my son during his most formative years was important—even if it meant leaving a job I loved and had worked hard to achieve. I now wanted to work hard to train up my child in the way he should go.
However, I often found myself longing for a different life. I grew jealous of friends and colleagues as they achieved professional success, some even having children of their own along the way. The past three-and-a-half years have been a struggle to find my place—as a mom, as a freelance writer and musician, as a Christian, as a driven and hard-working woman.
I’m delighted to be writing again over at the fabulous website Off the Page this month. Won’t you join me there to read the rest?
long to hurt more.
they sear and want to sear deeper.
they long to cry out into the darkness:
is anyone there?
long for comfort.
they seek it in food and drink, listlessness and frenzy, silent tears and screams of pain.
We all have our ways.
One hurting heart,
while hurting for us all,
while abandoned and without hope,
while crying out in the agony of torture,
can we, too?
My baby Hannah Grace is two years old. And the second verse of Amazing Grace just keeps playing on repeat in my head.
T’was grace that taught
My heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Hannah Grace, each phrase is true. Your presence in my life has taught my heart to fear. The moment I first learned you were on your way, I was terrified. I didn’t think I could handle having another baby so soon after your brother. Your earliest existence made obvious to me that my control over my life was just smoke and mirrors. I had a perfect plan, and this wasn’t it. I was not in control, and I was scared. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it, wouldn’t be able to love you well, wouldn’t be able to love your brother well, wouldn’t be able to take care of our home and all my responsibilities. I was scared to be a mom of “two under two.”
But two years ago, you began to prove me wrong. After nearly 42 weeks of pregnancy, you made me a mom of two under two. You showed me that I could do this thing that I had feared – if I trusted God and relied on Him for everything that I lacked. This life that He’s given me with you hasn’t been easy, but each day, He relieves my fears by another degree. And now, I understand that this began before I even met you. Continue reading
It’s easy to think of “work” in the ways our society does – as something only related to money, status, stability. But God-given work is bigger.
Sorry for the radio silence around here. Head over to Redeemer Presbyterian’s Center for Faith and Work blog for a short post I wrote recently on the frustrations of God-given work. . .
My primary work is as a mother. I have several advanced degrees and I spend hours sitting on the floor, wiping runny noses, or standing in the kitchen, washing dishes. Many days, it seems like everything that I do backfires. It is easy to feel like what I’m doing is a waste of my time and education. I know that raising kids is about delayed gratification – after all, “your works will praise you at the gates” – but I could use a little more affirmation along the way. The work of being a full-time mom is hard, grueling work.
It’s not unusual for work to feel this way.
Read the rest here!
There are really no words for today, or for yesterday, when my sweet friend lost her child, seven months after he was born. It feels useless and almost unnecessary, unimportant, to share the heaviness of the grief.
Almost harder for me, as the mother of two healthy children, has been the weight of responsibility.
I heard the news while sitting between my two children at home, at dinner. Our home is not a quiet one, and this is especially true at mealtimes (and bathtimes). The children were screaming in delight at each other, alternating between “Rooooaaaarrrr!” and “Noooooo!!!” enjoying the sounds of their voices volleying back and forth, at escalating decibel levels.
I sat, crying hot and silent tears, as they screamed, oblivious. Amidst the sadness and anger, I felt a heavy responsibility. Continue reading
I discovered something this week. While editing past blog posts for my writing portfolio, I learned something about God’s love. I discovered that, in a strange and beautiful way, examining my love for my daughter has shown me why I can trust God. [A different version of this post first appeared in 2015.]
When I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter, I cried. Out of fear. Out of disbelief. I was still nursing my firstborn, and he was still a baby. I did not feel ready for a second.
But along she came, fast and furious – if also two weeks late. I nursed and burped her, changed and rocked her, bathed and swaddled her. Over and over. I gently washed her sensitive skin and I protected her from the sun and her big-but-still-little brother. In those first weeks and months, I loved her in the very best way that I could – by doing.
Because I felt nothing. Continue reading
My son has this book that he loves called The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. In the book, the little red lighthouse is proud of its job sending out beacons of light to protect the boats in the river from the rocky shores. One day, a crew of men appears:
Every day [the little red lighthouse] watched the strange new gray thing beside it grow and grow. Huge towers seemed to touch the sky. Strong loops of steel swept across the river.
How big it was!
A great gray bridge, spanning the Hudson River from shore to shore. It made the little red lighthouse feel very, very small.
“Mommy, is the little red lighthouse sad?” my son asked one day after I read this passage to him.
“Yes, sweetie, it is,” I replied.
“But why?” he asked. (He is a three-year-old, after all.)
“Well, the lighthouse is afraid that he won’t have any work to do, now that the great gray bridge has been built. He’s afraid that there’s no job for him. And that makes him sad. It feels good to have a job to do, doesn’t it?” Continue reading
This year, I’ve worked hard to help my little ones understand the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas. Birthdays. In November, I designed a Thanksgiving and bought 60 small leaves in fall colors. My husband, son, and I practiced recounting one thing each day that we were thankful for, adding leaves to the branches and counting down the days. While other trees were losing their leaves, ours blossomed until we celebrated all those good things together with extended family (and turkey) .
In December, we had an advent calendar and an advent wreath and read stories about Mary and Joseph and Jesus. We talked about how Christmas was like Jesus’ birthday and how we give gifts, just like on other birthdays. We named all the gifts that God has given to us. (And most of all, Jesus, right? My three-year-old always repeated in his earnest, lisping voice.) Continue reading
Last weekend I felt great, really great. Self-assured. Focused and funny – able to concentrate and crack jokes with equal ease. Confident. I had my shit together. And it felt good.
I was in Memphis, playing concerts with an orchestra that I’ve been playing with since 2007. The people, place, and routine of rehearsals and performances are like home to me.
But this time was different from my last several trips South. This time was the first time in three years that I was there alone, without any kids.
I really enjoyed the conversations I had. I felt present, able to focus on what people said. Conversations that were casual-but-not-superficial flowed naturally. I didn’t think I knew how to do that anymore.
I enjoyed the playing. I had prepared well, but, moreover, I was able to play well in the moment. Rehearsals and performances were not a complicated array of insecurity and self-assurance and nostalgia – a frequent feeling in recent years – but instead a wonderful combination of ease and enjoyment. Continue reading
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They had a dog. A big, beautiful, wonderfully calm, long-haired golden retriever. And sitting on the floor with him — stroking his silky hair and listening to his contented breathing — was possibly the most peaceful thing about my life in 2003-2005.
Sometimes, I even got to walk him.
They also had what felt like a home. They had two kids – teenagers – and their dog and their life and their friends and their work. She talked to her mom on the phone every couple of days (I remember her answering it often when I was there – an old, hanging-on-the-wall phone) and they went for long morning walks along the river. They got the newspaper. They always had a pot of coffee on. I guess I felt like that’s what it was to be an adult. To have a home, and a routine, and a family, and a rich life woven together.
Their home was like a refuge to me – a haven of security and stability during wandering college and post-college years, when I was living with countless roommates, with haphazard furniture and random posters tacked onto the walls, eating Trader Joe’s frozen burritos for dinner. When I visited their home, I wanted to spend hours there (and often did) – learning from them and absorbing their life. I wanted to be transformed by their (seemingly) calm, collected, stable selves. Continue reading