I dared named Shame this week. Looked her right in accusing, bloodshot eyeballs and told her to get out of my car, my bed.
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Dirty napkins, homework packets, sticky jam spots,
markers, crumbs around my reading pile,
I try to focus on pages, but eyes
keep finding mess in the periphery.
No time to clean, only a few minutes to do this reading,
but little girl me keeps tugging at my sleeve,
no real care to order, the checklist,
she wants to play,
and grownup me senses the nudge of the mysterious yes.
It happens so often. I feel excited and all revved up to write on Friday. The word is released in Thursday’s late hours, and I see it.
I trace back over my week, all the memories of faces and moments, all the moments I thought I could write, and they meld from sparkling chartreuse, suede gray, scarlet and ebony into murky mud.
Yesterday I posted that I’d be diving this month into what I say vs. how I live, what I believe vs. how I move through the world. I intended to take an un-bossy look at personal integrity for the next 31 days in order to get at deeper Truth that sometimes passes us by. And I thought it could probably be good. Hoped so, at least.
Wow, is it October again?! The rain and chill to the air, the abundance of horse chestnuts littering our backyard, the return of pumpkin everything all beat with the same answer.
(Um, that’s yes.)
Those of you who’ve hung around here a while — or who make your way to various spots on the inter webs — may also recognize October as the month for 31 Days, where bloggers all over God’s green earth bite off the challenge (originally given by Myquillyn Smith, aka “The Nester”) to write for 31 days on the same topic.
Last year, I wrote 31 Days of Right Here and enjoyed the journey of exploring what it means to be right where we are, even as it led to the hitting of walls, the gnashing of teeth and much undone laundry.
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow for the kick-off to this year’s 31 Days series where I will write (as my girls say, “Drum roll please…”):
31 DAYS OF DOING AS I SAY
Perhaps a little strange, this topic continued coming to mind as I prayed and considered — as I begin to breathe in the space of days with all my little people at school (what do I do with my alone time? how do I treat myself?), as I recognize the areas of gap between what I think and how I live and as I look closer at those things I believe for you vs. what I receive as truth for me.
I expect myself to be convicted, but I also expect to laugh a little bit at the ridiculousness.
Case in point: Why does my bedroom floor looks like it does in the very same moment I bark at my kids, put your clothes away…it’s not that hard!
I’m excited for this month’s challenge and grateful for you as you read along. I pray you’re encouraged as you recognize a bit of yourself in my very human story and that you might draw closer to the deeper truths that may be passing you on by.
I’ll see you tomorrow!
Also, if you’d like to participate in 31 Days, it’s not too late. Everything you need to know is right here.
Motherhood is push-pull. Hold me tight-let me go. It is I want you — and I want nothing to do with you. It is a long journey of holding close and releasing my grip.
I’m experiencing it with all three of my girls right now. It’s been going on with the older two in different ways, to varying degrees for many years. Lala (you know that’s her nickname, right?) didn’t begin to truly develop a strong sense of identity separate from me until about a year ago. She began to pull away later than the others. It’s partly how we knew she wasn’t ready for kindergarten. She needed to grow in her confidence and sense of herself. It’s happening now for sure.
I can feel yanked around a bit. I’m trying not to put my stuff on them. Sometimes I’m more open after days of quiet to embrace them wherever they are; other times I’m worn out by the sudden onslaught of emotional noise and need.
I try to press in and they push back. I try to leave space, and they follow me, all clinginess and demands. There are no formulas for this sort of thing…more art than science, I’m sure.
The third day of school, Lala, J and I walked to school together (Sici usually walks with friends). Lala held my hand nearly the whole time, but when we began walking across the school grounds, she quickly told me I could just drop her off.
“But I get to come in for Book Look,” I said. “This is what I did with your sisters when they were in kindergarten. I came inside every day because parents and their kids get to read books together to start the day. It’s a special time.”
“That’s OK,” she said. “You don’t have to.”
“I want to,” I said. “I will.”
The next day, Lala told me again that she’d be great with me just dropping her off, and I gave her a variation of the same answer, adding, “I drop off your sisters now and don’t walk them to their class, but I didn’t start doing that until third grade.”
That night as I tucked Lala in, I told her that I appreciated her independence, that it was great (really), that she clearly was transitioning wonderfully to spending all day without me, but that Book Look was our time.
“Sometimes parents can’t stay to read because they need to get to work, but usually I can stay, so I’d like to. You really don’t need to keep telling me to drop you off.”
She scowled and rolled toward the wall.
I talked to a friend about the lunches she gets to share with her kindergarten daughter at another school. She’s done the same with her other three. It’s a sweet time for them to reconnect in the middle of a long day. I’ve done lunch with mine a handful of times in the cafeteria, but it hasn’t really ever become a thing. (Classroom volunteering has really always been more my thing.)
Still, I wondered if lunches might become Lala’s and my deal.
I thought I might bring it up casually, see what she thought, “I could come meet you for lunch sometime, if you’d ever want me to,” I said from the kitchen.
“No, thanks,” Lala said, her voice an upbeat, munching on her toast.
Lately, Lala’s been crawling into bed with Mike and me, waking us with her snuggling around the face. Sometimes she has bad dreams of jumping off cliffs or being chased by cats.
During days I once slowed to listen for
hidden sounds, to take in contrast of
chaos against calm, pressing needs against what simply is
without me, things for which I’ve no responsibility.
I’d trained myself to find the ground in
small noises, that sudden hush when
mind and hands stop
to hear and see now.
Faucet drips into soaking pot, ceiling fan whirs, here I am
ears, heart open,
for day on day, clouds hang heavy,
blanket of wool on sticky hours,
people ask, when will it rain?
say, we really need rain.
say, it’s getting sorta scary
all these days with no rain
we, the people of gore-tex and pulled up hoods
(and only umbrellas if you’re a kid, on business or from out of town),
we’re known for endless rain days,
so it feels foreign to long for
bursting open clouds
when we’re still living under the magical sunshine of
i don’t say it out loud for those wet months will stretch long,
but i think it and i begin
to pine for the splattering drops,
the spray from under car tires,
the look of ground saturated,
these plants are long-suffering, drooped in fatigue,
and the dirt is dust that clings
to little feet and carpets,
and when wildfires burn uncontained,
we hold our breath and pray and
this morning, when it’s still dark
and we can’t see the clouds,
those awake at this hour smell the air ripe with dirt,
note how it right wafts through the screened window
and how the droplets across car hoods, under street lights
I don’t know that we can be truly ready for the big changes.
Even those we gear up for and plan, anticipate or lay awake with in the middle of the night look different when we’ve come upon them, are able to finger their intricacies, behold them in the real light of day.
All we really have is the moment right here, so how can we be ready?
For more than sixteen years, I’ve walked through my days with little people. First the girls I mentored, who I worked with (and certainly loved) more than full time, holding hands and equipping for life challenges, helping heal from life’s pains.
And then my own three — always at least one little girl at my side as I did dishes and laundry, as we danced in the kitchen and gathered acorns, and I tried to carve out space, searching for an ever-elusive balance of me with her.
Without realizing it, I determined the worth of my days through a melding of their responses, God’s urges and my own, making mental stock of how I was doing by how my words, expressions and actions ricocheted against little spirits and flesh.
I was always so needed.