Tuesday, July 5, 2016

I gained membership to an awful club about a decade ago. Before I joined, I thought the membership was pretty exclusive, but now I know there are way too many of us.

Statistically, 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. That's a staggering number, and it doesn't even factor in late losses, stillbirths and the rest.

When I said goodbye to my twins, I had no idea of the sisterhood surrounding me. Now I see us, in the grocery store, in the elevator, sitting in churches, mothers without our children. Even when there are more children, our hearts know who is missing.

"I don't know what to do," they tell me, "I am so sad but I was barely even pregnant..."

"I shouldn't be so sad," they say, "my mom/husband/doctor/friends say something was wrong with it/the baby is in heaven/we weren't ready for kids/it wasn't really a baby..."


Listen, mamas... you should be so sad. In a perfect world, no mother would ever have to live in a world without their child. You, however briefly, carried the soul of your child in your body. You are connected forever. You are their mother. Name your baby, mourn your baby, remember your baby. If someone can't empathize with you or understand that, then thank God they have not had to experience that kind of loss, but don't let their comprehension control your emotion. You know, we always know, deep down inside, who we carried.

Someday, on the other side, we will sit by a river with the children we always knew, always loved. We will know them and they will know us. In that reality, we will finally be complete. Until then, we remember them, and we offer the hand of sisterhood, the grace to weep and remember.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My twins would be twelve today.

I live just outside eternity. My mother heart knows that my children are just out of my reach, through a veil. There, in the safety of that world, they grow and they play without any of the risks and suffering of this side. In that world, they know my dad and other loved ones I lost a long time ago. In that world, they are fully healthy, whole and loved.
If it had been up to me, they'd be on this side, blue eyes and dark blonde hair, full of jokes and witty thoughts. If I got to choose, they would be wrestling for possession of the Wii remote, eating too much cereal, outgrowing shoes at an absurd rate.

I'd be baking an imperfect cake today, and they would make fun of it a little, but not too much, because they wouldn't want to hurt my feelings.

If I got to pick, they'd be climbing in my bed at night, smelling like sweat and boy-feet, wrapping long arms around me and telling me about their days. "Go to bed," I would tell them, sternly, because I would see them again in the morning and this contact would not be all I ever had.

Even knowing they live in perfection, I'd choose this side, where they would sit across from me, disappointed and confused by the darkness in people. I'd explain learning to love broken people, even as they held back tears because they are big now, too big to cry about being rejected. I'd cradle their fuzzy summer haircutted-heads and ache that I couldn't keep them from sorrow. Still, I'd pick this side.

They will never know a broken bone, a broken heart, a bee sting or a fall from grace. I'm grateful for that. But a mama will always wish her baby was in her arms.

Happy birthday, boys. You will always be loved.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Daddy,

Sixteen years today. Sixteen years since we stood around that hospital bed and waited for the beeping to stop. Sixteen years since Uncle Randy sang a hymn to see his beloved brother out. It's been sixteen years and part of me still thinks you're pulling a prank. I still see glimpses of salt and pepper hair, a guy in a denim shirt climbing in a tiny red car. Surely you aren't really gone. But you are, and in a few years, I will have lived longer without you than I lived with you.

In a few years, a few breaths, just moments from now, I will be as old as you, and then I will be older than you ever were.

I can say this, you made the most of 52 years. You used to tell me about the hippie days, when you'd say "Live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse," which is just the kind of morbid humor we both found so funny. We still do, Daddy, all of us. Well, maybe not Leah, she is appropriately horrified by such talk. Mama told me when she goes to sprinkle her ashes at Walmart on 242, because she was so happy there. It's not funny but it's so funny. In some ways your irreverence toward death makes it easier, the loss. Death is not the boss of us, we keep living and laughing.


You didn't live like you were creating a legacy, you just lived. You woke up in the morning and you loved us. You woke up in the morning and you loved Jesus, and you worked and you wrote and you directed, always with the laughter, always safe and surrounding. You had no intention of dying but when death took you, you left with the right words said, because you always said how proud you were and how you loved us.

It's gotten easier, living here without you. At first I didn't know how to exist. But since you've pulled off this prank for a solid 16 years, all of us have learned how to remember you and celebrate you as part of who we are. You didn't set out to leave a legacy but you did.

So in these moments, this life I have, I will remember to say I love you. I will do my work and love the people around me and just be, because this is the stuff they write history books about.

Friday, September 4, 2015

It is completely quiet in my house. For the first time in over 16 years, there is no child here in my care. I mean, there have been days, hours that they were out for a while, but this is different. Tristan went to school today. Honestly, even as I cry, I think, "you are such a drama queen. FOUR hours. You're crying about leaving your four year old for FOUR HOURS." And in part, I'm right. But I'm also right to take a minute.

Years ago, when each baby took that first wobbly step, I celebrated. It's all captured on camera, with my ecstatic voice cheering them on and ruining the video. "Go!" we cheer, "walk to Daddy! walk to the couch! come back to me!" You don't realize that first step is the beginning of their OWN journey. And every milestone, you have to wait a little longer for the "come back to me" part.

It's a continual release against my own nature. "Go!" I say, while my heart is begging them to stay.

I knew today would be hard, because it's the beginning of a new chapter, which means it's the end of a chapter. The long mornings of diapers and Sesame Street and Cheerios have been over for a while, but today I am watching that door close behind me, with new doors opening everywhere. And the new world is brave and exciting and so different, for me and for them. But part of me is just dying to go back, to go back to the exhaustion of nursing them at 2 in the morning, the walks down the sidewalk with constant interruptions because they saw a a bug. "wait," I'm saying, "wait, I didn't know that part was really over, wait... wait, I need you to need me."

Tomorrow I will be better, I will be learning to embrace the change and celebrating all the NEW normal and victories. But I am letting myself cry today. Because change is hard,and letting go is not easy. And if I let myself sit here in the silence and feel this, I will be a better person in four hours.

It's a strategy I have for sadness, I make room for it. Because we feel deeply about things we love, and that's good.

So, okay, new chapter. Imma cry for a minute and then let's find the fun.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Today was a hard day. Not a hard day, like ones I've lived before, days that I woke up in the morning and asked God for more hours with one of my children before they left us forever. Those days are horrific. Today was just hard.

Today was one of those days when I feel like I made no progress. I grounded children and capitulated for the sake of quiet. I folded clothes, just to have the baskets upturned. I washed the dishes while a child poured rice on the floor. I argued, pleaded, put my foot down, won and lost.

One of those days when I look at my body, the bags under my eyes, my ponytail falling down and I wonder, "Who am I?" because the answer seems to be that I am just the answer. I am the answer to the injured child, the angry child, the hurting friend, whoever asks. I am the answer to the food and the clothes and the fears. I am the answer to who will teach these little ones to love. I am the answer and I just want to be invisible, sometimes. It's hard to be so essential and so ignored at the same time.

One of those days that I had to continually ask for patience, for perspective, because rumor has it that the years are short. I take some comfort in knowing I might forget these, the not-great-but-not-terrible mundane days. I won't remember, maybe, what it feels like to step on cold macaroni. Maybe I'll forget almost crying over a mound of laundry, of all things.

Or maybe I won't forget. Maybe I will just see clearly.

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Maybe today was one of those days that is a building block. Maybe today, I am being built into someone strong, resilient and patient. I am learning, over and over again, to choose to love, and I am teaching by learning.

And I'm not the only one being built. Today is an unremarkable, but essential, brick in a wall of truth and consistency for my children. This hard day is another day that they were fed and taught and loved and seen. Some day we will look back at a solid wall, a strong wall built of ordinary days and occasionally, fantastic and awful days. "Look at what we built!" maybe we will marvel, even with the dings and the cracks.

My responsibility is to keep building, keep learning and loving and trying and failing, because what I'm building is much, much bigger than what I can see. Today was a hard day and I'm proud of it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

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There are multiple safeguards that God built in to make parenting doable. For one thing, babies are adorable. Not at birth, mind you. A very select group of infants come out looking like humans, but the majority are more what my dad (RIP) often referred to as "boiled monkeys". The man had a way with words. But later, some time post-birth, they get fat little elbow dimples and ginormous Disney-eyes or what have you, and the cuteness gets significant. That is super useful, because they scream a lot and they don't really sleep, and the whole constant-poop thing- it would be a deal breaker if it were someone that just looked like a normal guy or a goblin or something.

There are other safeguards but I'm a pretty lazy blogger so I'll just skip to the main one.

This is a condition that occurs in childbearing women, often immediately after delivering a baby. I call it mom-nesia, which is an arguably unclever amnesia reference. Maybe I'm rusty.

Here's how it goes down, a lot of the time. (disclaimer: this is not how it goes down with me, because I am in labor for 4 full months and then give birth to miniature children. but this is how I understand it goes down):

Mother: (screaming, etc)
Everybody else: "Breathe, relax, push, etc."
Childbirth: "I WILL KILL YOU NOW AND HAVE YOUR SOUL."
Mother: "Never mind, I will just stay pregnant. I don't want to do this, I'm getting up and going home AIIIIEEEE *&*&&!!@ MADRE DE DIOS."
Childbirth: "LOL"
(general screaming, pain and blood, magic fairy dust and daydreams for the natural birth crowd)
Days later
Baby: "Waah."
Mother: "Let's have more children!"

Momnesia.

I get momnesia every time I take my kids on vacation.

Me: "Let's go have a magical Amaro filtered beach trip with our 4 well behaved children."
the Man of God: "Vacation with kids is not vacation."
Me: (a lot of things, sounds of vacation beginning)
All of our money: "See ya suckas!"
(general sounds of our kids fighting and falling down and refusing to eat overpriced restaurant meals)
the Man of God: (not saying anything)
Vacation: "LOL"

Much later, in the last 30 minutes of vacation, we watch a sunset together. The children, sun-weary and full and content, sit beside us, and for a moment there is magic
Me: "Let's ALWAYS go on vacations!"

Momnesia.

It happens everywhere. I ground them and forget they're grounded. I take them to the store because I forget about what happens when I take them to the store. "We can handle the post office," I think, because I have a disease. "What is your name?" I ask them, "you, with the hat." I let them stay up late because surely they will sleep in tomorrow.

I would think there was a cure, a pill or an amount of time that will heal me and I will remember. The cold reality is, momnesia is terminal. You will live with it forever.

My mom: "You kids never acted like that."
Me: "I have VIDEOS of us acting EXACTLY like that."
My mom: "Nope"
Memory: "LOL"

On the bright side, I think I'll get an Amaro filter for my old age.

Me, in my senior years: "We used to take magical vacations with you kids."
My Adult Children: (guilty) "We should take our kids on vacation, why don't we ever do that? It will be beautiful and perfect."
Life: "LOL"
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Why am I not writing? It's not like I don't have anything to say. I am saying things all the time. It's rallying the brain space to put it in words - I'm not finding that space. Not writing feels like I'm missing something crucial, like I forgot how to breathe normally. I am finding that life is not slowing down any, so I guess I have to figure out how to process on the go. 

I tread lightly through these months. They are filled with anniversaries of promise and dreams and loss. In these months I cradled babies in my womb, felt them kick. In the months to come I released them to God, to live or to die. Some died.

I lost my innocence, I learned that life could be cruel. I said goodbye to my dad and tried to navigate life without a father. Many of the dates I couldn't pinpoint but I will wake with an ache in my chest and remember, "One time, today was a dream," and "once upon a time, today was a nightmare".

I am finding, as time passes, evidence of God in my memories. I remember the grief and then I remember Him, close at hand, a God who knew how it felt to lose a son, to ache. I remember my pain and my rage and my anger and I remember His faithfulness. I remember floating out to sea in grief, prepared to let the waves drown me- I remember my life preserver, my Faithful Steadfast who carried me back to life.

I still carry the ache of what-could-have-been, but it has been tempered by the beauty of what-is. In the midst of these gravestones, I see altars of remembrance. He carried me then and He carries me now.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I've got things to talk about. Tristan's birthday, moving across the country.. well, diagonally across, acclimating to Texas again, lots of things. But I won't talk about any of that today.

See, what had happened was... my KC driver's license expired right before we moved. "No probs," thought I, because I think in these adorbs word configurations now, this is what I have done to myself. "No probs, I'll just blow this off and get my Texas license as soon as I get there." Except no, because if you don't have a valid license somewhere you have to start all over. As in applying, vision test, written test, and may God have mercy on my soul, the road test.

"So what," maybe you're thinking. "You're a grown woman, and you've been driving for decades." And that is true, although my grown-ness was once loudly challenged in a gas station, because of my height and what I have to assume is an incredibly youthful appearance. ("You GROWN?" he asked me, from across the store. "I mean, you ain't like a child or nothing?") I digress. I am, more or less, grown.

Back in the day, I failed the road test twice, because of parallel parking. I would like to veer wildly off course here, since I can and say WHY IN THIS DAY AND AGE DO I HAVE TO PARALLEL PARK. I AM GROWN AND I WILL DRIVE A HALF MILE AND PAY FOR PARKING BECAUSE I DON'T EVER, EVER HAVE TO PARALLEL PARK. Parallel parking, ironing clothes, check-writing, and phone calls: all prehistoric and personally offensive to me.

So I went and I took the test and even cheerily posted a pre-test selfie.

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I guess I was flying too close to the sun. It started off well, with the DMV officer laughing at a couple of my jokes. First thing off the bat was parallel parking. I took a new approach, which was going so.very.slow. that I was unlikely to bump anything. (burned before) I'm pretty sure I flunked that portion but I knew it would only be a couple of points so I got a little cocky, because I know how to drive. Moments later, I was returning to the DPS in shame, having exceeded the speed limit by 5 miles. Automatic fail. The internet was unanimous, they all felt very sorry for me but also could not stop laughing. I was laughing too, for a while. Then panic set in.

"What if," I asked myself in the wee hours of the night, staring into my ceiling fan, "what if I fail again, because I don't do a blinker enough yards from a turn? What if I don't check my mirrors enough? What if this time I DO bump the curb and oh Jesus whom I love, why do I have to parallel park again?"
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I woke up hours early, as is my custom when I need extra time for worrying. When I arrived at the DPS, I tried to put on a brave face, like I had not been praying out loud for please PLEASE Jesus make me pass one moment before. Again, the jokes went over well. I parallel parked like a professional 90 year old with vision in one eye and a bleeding ulcer. Then I drove under the speed limit around the city of Conroe. The thing is, they won't tell you if you mess up or pass or fail. They just keep a poker face and tell you to park by the curb at the DPS before they break the news. At the final stoplight, I was pretty sure I had maybe failed again, so I tried a little test joke. "So," I said casually, "I guess you can't tell people their scores till they get back, so, you know, a failed student won't just take off on a raging joyride with you in the car, heh heh heh." She laughed, albeit a little nervously. She then directed me to park by the curb in sight of the armed troopers, and told me I passed. After that she exited pretty quickly to get my paperwork.

I stood on the curb by a man with a multitude of neck tattoos. In my mind, I referred to him as a felon, but then I decided that was a rash judgment and just called him a thug. I made some small talk about getting a license. "I haven't had one in 4 years," he spit out, directing his words towards the armed state troopers. "I don't see the POINT, but I am getting sick and tired of them ARRESTING ME ALL THE TIME." I gave the guy a little room to breathe. Finally she came out and gave me my paperwork, and I said goodbye, to the felon and to my own life of crime. Feels good to turn over a new leaf. Plus, now I can look my 8 year old Judgy McJudgerson, in the eye.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tomorrow, I will be 36. Technically, this year will still be my mid-30s, unlike my husband, who will turn 37 in 2 weeks and definitely be in his late 30s. 36. Guys, I can smell 40. 40 is not old anymore. In fact, I'm starting to feel a little iffy about calling 70 old. Still, as with all my fully-adult birthdays, I will now assess my life accomplishments and lack thereof, and ponder my mortality. Also I will totally get presents and make myself a cake.

I know that, someday, after I leave this mortal coil, people will talk really nicely about me, and my funeral will be a fairly cheerful event, given the circumstances. That's because I'm almost 36, thinking that way. I'm glad that you'll all be nice at my memorial, but I personally feel the pressure each year to have accomplished something meaningful. "Ah, well," I think, "at least I loved my kids."



I wonder if that gets easier, the way that other things got easier.

In grade school, I was convinced that my protruding ears would make me forever unattractive, and that no boy would ever love me. Somewhere right around age 13, my ears became a non-issue.



Part of the reason they faded was my overarching awkwardness, my wonky knee (it's crooked, mind your business), and all my many other MANY other awkwardnesses. All of high school I was very, very concerned about my non-blonde-and-tan-ness (in Texas, many high school girls look like Miss Teen Texas contestants, and that is daunting).



47629_10150356344660441_4994076_nIn my 20s, I had a severely ill child and he was the only thing that mattered. Haircuts came and went, overalls were worn (I do miss my overalls), and life settled into stark perspective. In the light of life and death, I grew very comfortable in my skin.

Now, past the halfway mark of my 30s, I'm okay with how I look, how I think, how I relate to people, how I parent my children, for the most part. This decade, I am starting to worry about what I will accomplish. I have books in me, lots of books. I wonder if I will ever let them out. I like the thought of late bloomers. I wonder if the pressure to not be an underachiever will change.

I take comfort in the way that time shapes and shifts what matters, like a camera focus sharpening on the nearest object. This, my 37th year-in-waiting, will be a good year. I will learn to love. Also, maybe I'll write a book.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014






FAQs:

Isn't FAQ a complete statement? Is the s really necessary?

Excellent question. I can't handle skipping the s. You're gonna have to accept this.

When are you moving? 

Our plan is to be in Texas on December 1st. We are looking for a big place to rent for the first 6 mos-year

Why Texas?

Well, it's God's country. Obviously.

Tell us more about the job

That's not a question, but I'm feeling generous. We will be Senior Associate Pastors, with holy duties all over the place. Stay tuned, there will be lots of internetting of meetings and so on.

Are you more excited about the pastoral position or the cheese enchiladas?

I won't even dignify that with a response.

What can we do to help?

Pray for a smooth transition, moving the kids means a new school, new friends, etc. Luckily we have family there, but it's still a big change. If you're local, we could use boxes and eventually we will need manpower to move furniture and whatnot. Lastly, you can donate to our moving fund if you want to.

Will you miss Kansas City?

We will, we love IHOP and our friends and, even though we're so excited about this new ministry, it is painful to leave so many precious people. We love the fact that IHOPpers are such a travel-y community and know we'll still get to see y'all from time to time.

What else would you like to say?

So much, so many thanks for the years of blessing here. So many people who have walked with us. Words fail me. It has been a rich season and I will remember it with great fondness. Looking forward to a season of service and fruitfulness at Freedom Fellowship.

 
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