In my thoughts and in my clothes, I feel tight.
In my bed and on two feet, I feel unrest.
In my office and in the nursery, I feel distracted.
I am uncomfortable.
I’ve pulled away from people I love who seem to have the steady hand I do not.
Who’s clothes lay well.
Who’s thoughts seem calm.
Who’s floors seem effortlessly clean.
Not as a punishment, I explain.
I still love and need them.
This break is mental self preservation.
I just need to dwell in places that are raw and vulnerable tonight.
I need to hear something unfiltered from someone.
I’m worried I’ll never be comfortable again.
I’ll never be confident.
I’ll always be just a little too sloppy.
Maybe I’ve changed into the woman I always prescribe to other women when I say “stop being everything”.
My oldest son loves my soul.
He has for five years.
He reaches for me and tells me I’m beautiful.
It’s like jesus in my ear saying, of course you are uncomfortable. You forgot who I said you are.
Maybe even the snake feels a certain way when he sheds his skin.
My co-worker Chantell tells me she cried rivers on the day she turned 30. At the same table, another co-worker laments her frustration with the underwhelming celebration of her 30th birthday. I’m still coming to terms with how I feel this week. 30 is big. 30 is a milestone. 30 is something.
Truthfully I don’t understand the stigma. But that could be, of course, because I’m so wildly in love with my life. My job is successful and pointing in great places. My child is happy, healthy and full of sarcastic potential. The sex is great and my husband always does the dishes after I cook. I live in a beautiful home in a sterile neighborhood and my fridge is full. My car starts every morning and my dog, as much as I dislike her, keeps us aware of every neighborhood inconsistency. I weigh less today than the day I was married and I still have cheeseburgers once a week. I am living a perfect life. And now I’m 30.
When I look back on where I have been, and I try to remember what kind of life I dreamed of as a child, this is better than that. I grew up dreaming of a clean house with lots of laughter and intentional time and giving. I dreamed of a career. I dreamed of an education. I dreamed of a big family, with a house full of bunk beds.
And there’s the only snag…
After two years of unsuccessfully trying to fulfill that need to increase my family in number, I feel content, knowing we’ve increased in so many other ways. This has been the happiest year of my marriage. It’s been the year I was able to let go of expectations and live in moments and let my kitchen get crumby from time to time without feeling like a failure on every level. Yes I am 30 now and every passing month feels like one month further away from ever getting pregnant again. And there have been months when that has really broken my spirit. In brokenness, I have searched after truth and wisdom. In truth I see the blessings I’ve been given. And in wisdom I find beautiful grace in asking for more when I deserve it the least.
I’m happy to be turning 30. I’m happy to be his wife and I’m blessed to be his mother. And I’m going to wait and see what is next with excitement. It may not always be this high but today, at the age of 30, I feel good. I feel undeserving.
I feel superbly loved.
My grandmother recently asked me why I hadn’t written you a letter for your third birthday. At this point, you are nearly 3 ½ and before I know it, she’ll be nudging me at your fourth birthday wanting to see the goods. Frankly, I don’t have a good reason. You being three has given me plenty of material, heartburn and joy. But some of my favorite moments of writing to you, has been talking about the wisdom I’ve gained from being your mother. So maybe I haven’t written because you being three has robbed me of all parental confidence.
In truth, I have no idea what I’m doing right now.
The further we have moved into this age, the more I’ve realized just how powerless I am to you and the things you feel. For the last few months I’ve been really really bad at this. You scream, I shout. You cry, I shut the door. You hit, and I just NEED TO BE ALONE! And everyone keeps telling me the only reason I’m able to maintain senility is due to your cuteness in between.
And I’m not sure that’s true.
It might be the guilt of worrying I’ve screwed it up so irreveracably the day before, I become determined to do better the next. It’s a cycle that’s been getting me out of bed for the last almost 180 days.
I don’t want to sound so dramatic in saying being a mother to a 3 year old is too hard. But damn. It’s hard.
Bedtime is hard. Mornings are hard. Potty training is hard. It’s hard when you are hungry and sleepy and hyper. It’s hard when you wake up in the middle of the night and point a flashlight directly into my sleeping eyes. It’s hard when you get so mad you pull a dresser and 32” TV down on top of yourself, just to prove a point. It’s hard when you are fed up with rules and make up your own. It’s hard when you insist I’m not allowed to use words like “later” or “tomorrow” or “maybe”.
But let me tell you when it’s good. It’s good when I curl up into your teeny tiny bed and we make up songs about made up words. It’s good when you catch my eye in the rearview mirror and tell me you love me with a coy smile. It’s good when you see me in the school parking lot and wave with so much raw excitement. It’s good when you ask for carrots instead of crackers. It’s good when you tell me new things about God. It’s good when you announce it to be pajama time, in the middle of the day. It’s good when you ask to be held like a baby after a bath.
Frankly, there are so many goods. So many more goods than hards. The hards just feel so heavy.
All through life, the hards will feel heavier than the goods. It takes a strong spirit to judge them equally and let the goods outweigh. The first time you experience the heartbreak of lost love, you’ll feel like all the good has been sucked out of the world. The first time you are bullied or singled out in a negative way, those goods will be incredibly hard to feel. But time teaches you things. Eventually you’ll come to a point when you’ll realize the people who can’t see goods despite the hards, miss out on so much love and opportunity and adventure.
I want you to grow into a person who chooses good. Who sees hard and knows it will be defeated or forgotten soon enough. You have that power inside of you. You are so loved and that will win over a multitude of hards. Love always wins Judah. So even if you’ve gone through that lost love, replace it. Maybe not in the same way, but always find ways to love better and the hards will take their place in the correct order.
I’ll try to work hard and show you this. I’ll pray for this. We’ll practice it together. Practice sounds like a funny word when talking about love, because it seems it should be a natural reaction. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Loving well is a habit worth practicing and perfecting over a lifetime. Mistakes will be made and hurts will be caused sometimes in equal measure. But love is definitely a practice.
In his book, Outliers, Malcom Gladwell states that it takes 10,000 hours to be successful in any practice. What do you think it would look like to practice love for 10,000 hours? And frankly, I’m not even sure that would be enough. It’s a life of love practice from start to finish. And even then we would be flawed. But that’s not a good enough reason not to try.
I love you with so dearly with so many flaws. I prove it every day. I wish that weren’t so, but it is.
Tomorrow I’ll wake up and leave for work long before you start your day. Before I walk out the door, I’ll stop by your room, pull up your blankets and kiss whatever exposed part of your face I can locate in total darkness. I’ll silently apologize for the fight we had last night after the 12th time you came out of your room before finally falling asleep. And I’ll swear to do better today. Just like every day. And I swear that I’ll mean it. Just like I do, every day.
Because I’m practicing.
For the rest of my life.
I love you Judah.
-Your sassy momma.
Today, as I was rolling through my twitter feed, I noticed one of those habitual “quoters”. You know the ones who almost never, if ever, contribute any original thoughts. They just repost great things that other people have written, and then we are supposed to think they are somehow prolific for having read and regurgitated it… Those types of people are boring.
And now excuse me while I regurgitate their regurgitated prolificness.
“Hope has two daughters: Anger and Courage.
Anger at how things are and
Courage to see that they don’t remain as they are”
That’s pretty much where I’m living right now. Only I’ve just been calling it anger with associated symptoms such as: unrest, discontentment, confusion, confrontation, anxiety and the beat goes on.
Anger is such a huge beast. Because anger cannot…CANNOT… stay hidden inside of oneself. It exists in every exchange. In every facial expression. Completely devoid of healthy direction, anger will guide almost every thing you do. And anger is destructive.
Recently I picked up a new book and while discussing a topic similar to this, the author said that when we feel attacked, our first defense is almost always with our words. Words that hurt. Tearing down the things we most love. The bible speaks of this frequently.
I’m not a licensed counselor but I think I have a keyhole peep into the root of my affliction with this. People, but specifically, I – need to be heard. But more to the point…I need to be understood.
Proverbs 29:11 says “A fool gives vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back”.
My spirit bubbles. My tongue spits words out quickly and with fervor. I hold back very little when I know it’s safe to feel and express feeling. And yet… I feel completely misrepresented, misunderstood… just missed. The more I try to say it, and the less I’m heard, the greater the anger boils.
Sometimes I look to the heavens and ask God why He gave me a husband that physically can’t hear me. I will spend the rest of my life repeating myself in multiples of 10’s just to have one feeling heard. One instruction remembered. One hurt understood. The man just can’t hear me. Not with his ears. Not with his heart. Not yet. Maybe time will repair that. Maybe doctors will. But today… I exist in a vacuum in my home. Thankfully because of God ordained vows, I can feel safe while still misunderstood, knowing eternity awaits with something better for us.
And all that to say…
I’m in a search, spiritually. I’m looking for that beautiful middle ground where I know God, and I’m satisfied in him. And I feel known in my home. In my work. Amongst friends. To feel heard. To let go of the anger associated with only being needed as a function… and finally known as a person worth knowing.
Hope does have two daughters. I’ve clutched too tightly to one. I’m groping around in the dark for the other.
I think I’ve done it. I’ve waited the exact amount of time I could go without writing that everyone has stopped looking for it. No one remembers this space in the inter-webs exists. Also everyone stopped reading personal blogs in the amount of time that I stopped caring to write one. Only the best writers remain and only the most loyal readers still read. I am and have neither. Therefore I may officially begin writing again.
I’m not even sure what I will say. Now that I know for certain no one will see it, I think I can say and do just about anything. I can prose poetic. Or be dry and sarcastic (my specialty). Overly sentimental (my fallback). Or make a list of the reasons why, as I get older, I only seem to become more confused about who I am, rather than wiser and more in touch.
Mentioning that last point, let me just begin by saying, I have just recently finished my first ever season of therapy. See, two years ago I probably wouldn’t have admitted that, but there it is… I’m bat crap crazy and now that I’m writing to no one, it’s safe to finally say it out loud.
Yes, I have deep seeded issues. From childhood. From marriage. From motherhood. From faith. Or a lack thereof. From a career. From loneliness. From an unnecessary need to “do”. From a million little things, that when standing in solitude don’t add up to much. Whip them all together and what do you get?
Head-case. Certified. Grade A. FDA approved. Head-case.
Therapy helped me dig around, look at it from all different angles and decide on a lot of root causes, and I feel better. Lighter. But the truth of all those factors are still reigning true, and the brain that has to calculate and divide the pieces of me that I’m allowed to allocate to those things… is still frying as we speak.
Therefore, I stand before you a fizzled woman. A woman who really thinks she was called to more than an emotional grease fire. I have a desire to believe I am capable of more. Of feeling better. Of choosing better.
But I hear that’s a process. Writing has always been a healthy process for me. Almost always made healthier when I know no one is looking. However, it’s good for me to share. I’m inherently a non sharer when it makes me look weak. So this is a small step in both directions. Writing what’s real and sharing it honestly.
But maybe only to people who trip over me with an incorrect Google search.
Hi. Welcome. You searched for “flashing subway freak” and for some under known reason, Google brought you here. You are in good company. Obviously we both need help. This is my residual therapy. You are welcome to come along for the ride.
This probably isn’t the best time to write you a letter. Christmas is creeping up next week, and in my own personal tradition, I still haven’t baked a cookie or wrapped a single present. I wouldn’t say that I love the last minute, but I certainly seem to always find myself here, wishing I would have done more to leave less on my plate this last week of advent. I suppose I’m writing this today because of what has happened in our country over the last week. Luckily you have no idea what has occurred. At the age of 2, you wouldn’t know the difference between a mass shooting in a school room half a country away, and the celebration of Arbor Day. And because of that Judah, I am incredibly jealous.
I wish this week I hadn’t watched the truth of this devastation unfold. I have felt scared and so desperately empathetic to the parents who dropped their babies off on Friday morning. But most of all, I have been faced with the reality yet again of the fragility of our life here together. A split second. An unimaginable decision from someone we don’t even know. A seemingly normal day… and suddenly we are left wondering, ‘did I do enough to make sure he knew he was loved today?’
But let’s forget about that for a second. Let’s talk instead about sovereignty. Let’s talk about the questions that have been raised regarding human nature. Let’s talk about how a country has come together to talk about grace and giving and the ability to lift each other up. Let’s talk about how we’ve all in some regard, taken responsibility for our neglect in loving well enough… The kind of love that moves mountains by being kind and regarding each other as valuable, even when it doesn’t make sense.
Buddy, this week has been very emotional for us all. So many tears have been shed. But through it, we have found ways to be giving and soft and accountable for our words and actions. Perhaps it’s good that it happened so close to Christmas. It’s this time of year that so many of us remember what it means to be without, and others remember what it means to go without for the sake of their brother or sister. It’s this time of year that our family means the most and our hearts are anticipating the arrival of love and memories are made. But more than any of that… it’s the time of year when we are reminded that our love is so lacking without the love of a God who would send His son to this earth to rescue us from so much evil.
Please hear me when I tell you that in the middle of this tragedy, in the middle of pain and suffering and unimaginable sadness, our God is so great. God saw this day before the earth rotated around the sun. It was because of this hurt we all feel today that He gave us His Son to heal and restore. He knew that by giving us flesh and self-serving hearts, we would cause pain to one another. But we are not without hope my dear son.
I’m 100% certain that if you live to be as old as me, you will see your share of what I have seen this week. The ugly and the lovely. The broken and the whole. The pain and the glory. And eventually, you’ll come to a fork in the road that causes you either become cynical and helpless or reverent and hopeful. Only you can control the eyes in which you see these things. Only you can choose which road you walk down. Pray for help Judah. We’ve been promised great things by a great God. He will help you understand His sovereignty. And through that… you’ll see hope.
Today I was reminded of the scripture Romans 15:13, where Paul writes “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing”
Hope and joy don’t come naturally to this world Judah. They are bi-products of belief in God. Don’t walk faithlessly alone in this desert as you see others do. It’s not always easy to put your belief and faith in the hands of something so many consider to be folly. But the result is joy, peace, understanding, kindness and every other thing your heart will long for from the world. But the world won’t give it to you. Only in the heart of God will you see those things.
Merry Christmas my dear child. This year and every year after, you will stand as the physical reminder of how God has so greatly blessed me on this earth. I pray you know the joy that lives in my heart today. I pray you know Him.
Your Sassy Momma
Happy birthday my love. Two years is quite an accomplishment. Especially when you consider all the hurdles you’ve had to overcome. Like walking and talking and using a fork. And all the while I’ve been standing over you trying to do it all for you, pretending I’m going to be able to willingly give you independence at any point in your young life. Yet, you always seem to find a way to keep me at just about an arms length away so that I am able to see how smart and funny and beautiful you are, and how little I’ve had to do with any of it.
Today I thought a lot about how different your childhood experience will be from mine. I remember playing outside from breakfast until dinner. I remember walking the railroad tracks every single day across town. I remember getting into insane amounts of mischief without ever having to answer to the parental convenience of cell phones or GPS or nanny cams. Since then, however, I have become very accustomed to control. Like for instance, I can send instant communication to whoever I want in a second, including the President of the United States. I can tell you the circumference of the earth without cracking a book. I can have food effortlessly delivered to my kitchen table in 15 minutes or less. I can get cancer tomorrow, and probably beat it. That’s how much control my generation has garnered. So yeah, it makes us cocky. It shocks us when we can’t fix or avoid life’s big problems. I truly believe it is the core of our mass anxiety problems. We’ve been programed to believe that control is within our reach, always. And maybe we have been blessed with conveniences that trick us into believing that. But in reality, we are left feeling emotionally stranded when that control ends up being but a vapor.
I dream of a simpler life for us. One where I don’t have to work. Where we could avoid the hurdle of you being sucked into societal norms of narcissism or materialism. Where you could experience an adventure and I could learn to let go of my need to create structure where there need not be any. It’s a work in progress. But just dreaming of it appears to be helping.
This week you and I went to the park by our little house. It was a really nice cool day but it had started to rain a little. The park was almost completely abandoned except for you and I… just two weirdos who can’t be scared by a little falling water. Towards the end you were starting to poop out on me. You got down on the ground and took off my sandals. We walked around a little, but every few minutes we’d stop to inspect a new leaf or ant pile or really rad long extra cool stick. Those are the moments I life for. They are the moments you force me to be down near the dirt again. Everything down there is so small. My legs have become so long, and my gate so wide, that I miss it all now. I am able to avoid all of those little inconveniences because I have bigger things to attend to. But your little things, like roly polys, that’s how life gets simple again. You take my sandals off and make me see how beautiful things are in your line of sight.
Judah, I hope you always see the little things. I mean, lets be real, if you are still trying to eat roly polys as an adult, we got problems. But if you can still love the simplicity of being small in a big world, your heart will thank you for it. Try so hard to avoid the anxiety of seeking control. There is no such thing. Prepare your heart for life, because life is best lived in adventure. And adventure isn’t truly adventure without a little danger.
I’ve dreamt my whole life about adventure. The places I could go, the people I could swoon, the money I could find. I had that scenario all wrong. I haven’t really seen anything or met anyone or earned anything so great as you. God had me dreaming of capers for 26 years, but nothing so great as the experience I have had being your momma. The millions of kisses and nightly talks in your rocking chair, they’ve surpassed it all. My hope wasn’t big enough to expect something like you.
Your aunt Kelli told me yesterday that God loves you more than I do. This morning while we drove to “yerk”, as you call it, we said our morning prayers and we thanked Him for that.
He still does Judah. You can be an adult reading this, and that truth will not have changed. His love is so great, so still and so real, it is ridiculous for me to attempt to control it. You are His. I pray every day that you know that. And if you don’t, maybe spend some time moving slower with a lower line of sight. See if the smaller things in this world don’t draw your heart to His.
I love you more every single day. And two years is a lot of days.
Your Sassy Momma