Calling Mommy Back-Up

Mommy Back-UpA friend of mine emailed me the other day. She’s pregnant, her job is going haywire, her husband is in full-time school, and just that day, her son figured out how to climb out of his crib . . . and forgot how to sleep.

Yeah. One of those times.

And I was her about 5 years ago when my son (then 2-years-old) climbed out of his crib and promptly refused his nap, bedtime, and every other structure we had in place at the time. Did I mention that I work from home? And the only time I had to work was during nap time. Um. Problem.

So I identify with my friend. I emailed her back giving her a few hints, ideas, and thoughts. And she’s been on my mind ever since. I dropped her a line a few days later wondering if there’s something I can do to help—bring a meal, babysit, conjure sanity from thin air.

I hope she takes me up on it. I’d be happy to help, and she could use the Mommy back-up.

But I’m afraid she won’t. Because let’s face it.

When I was there I didn’t want to ask for help. It felt too, well, needy.

In fact I didn’t want to take help or in any way look like I couldn’t handle it. I should be able to do it on my own. Right? Right?! I can still see my hands shaking from too much caffeine and not enough sleep. I was so tired, I literally walked into walls.

While I’m not walking into walls these days, I am overwhelmed. Partly because I stupidly said yes to too many things. And partly because my oldest is entering teenhood, trying to figure out life, and she needs her mom (and I refuse to be anywhere else).

I hope I learned something in the last 5 years–learned to ask for help and receive it when someone offers. I know I’ve shuffled my kids to friend’s houses, ordered pizza, and broken down and let them have more screen time than I’d like. It’s what I need to do for right now. And that’s okay.

What are the things that other people have done for you that have made your life easier? What are things you wish someone would do to give you Mommy Back-Up?

When There Are No Words

No Words

As I writer and editor, my life lives and breathes letters, words, sentences. Pictures, scenes, emotions, flow from my brain, to my fingers, to the page. It’s what I do.

But sometimes…sometimes the river of words runs dry. I’m left without a way to respond to circumstances.

I’ll admit I’m tapped out right now. I have no words. And it’s okay for me. I know I my writing hasn’t been my best, but it’s okay for now. I’m not actively writing a novel…just editing.

My stopped up word-river is even fine for my family for the moment. We’re okay. Really we are (and I’m not just trying to convince myself of that).

My world is surviving without my words, my connection to something bigger…until I got a phone call from a friend who’s always been there for me. Until I didn’t have words for her.

I’m not sure I even followed everything she said through her tears, but I do know this: Her daddy died, and it was hard. She was trudging in the valley of the shadow of death, and I had such paltry words to give. I couldn’t even point her to comfort.

I know that sometimes it’s okay to not say anything. Sometimes it’s better even.

But oh how I long to speak into the dark spot left in her dad’s place.

And so I bring a meal, I pray for her peace, I scour the Internet for funny stories to send, and I might even buy a card with someone else’s words or I might haul out my paints and paint her a picture.

See I may have no words, but she can still hear me…and that’s okay with me. Tweet This

Perhaps it’s here, where our words flee, that we find action. In this wordless place, we set aside our daily tasks, roll up our sleeves, and communicate in a bigger way.

Smooth as Buttercream

There’s Something About Texture

Texture

My boy’s tiny fingers twisted
Through silky dark threads
Knotted, bumpy woven into
Comforting texture.

Enormous flower heads
Delicate as Queen Anne’s lace,
Bobbing approval above narrow cattails
Or dancing radiant under evergreen boughs.

Round, smooth-as-silk berries
Coated intense red,
Tucked safe into thousands of tiny leaves,
And stretched over the rippling water.

Paint trailing under a brush
Light space and dark, starts and stops,
Hiccupping thick layers to mimic reality,

Leaves breathing like velvety buttercream atop
The cricket chirp lays down the ratcheting, rhythm
And a bird’s sharp call jive
Cutting through it all.

Broken Barn Philosophy

Broken Barn PhilosophyThis last week we traveled up and around a million back roads in Northern Michigan. Gentle turning through hills and miles of meadows tucked between towering evergreens and unblemished white sandy beaches.

As we took time to breathe as a family, thoughts and words tumbled out of me like a fountain. Snatches of beauty took up residence in my heart. The snippets I took hold of might just last me weeks.

But one of my favorite sights were the leaning-sideways barns—the ones that were red, but have slowly slid into grey.

What is it about a broken barn, slowly overcome by wildflowers, that’s so beautiful? Or that one fence post nudged over in tall grass that catches our eyes.

We take pictures of the not quite right. But when it comes to our lives, we hide the things that are not what has been deemed good by . . . well, by whom? Continue reading “Broken Barn Philosophy”

Not the Best

Best

We were becoming desperate for rain, and the hot weeks have sucked the flowers dry. But along the highway, a sneaky beauty grew. The grasses glowed golden, backlit by the horizontal sun peeking out from the storm clouds.

Who would have thought that mere dry grass could be beautiful?

And yet it is so. The moment the world is dry and hard, it isn’t the flashy obvious flowers that persevere. It’s the overlooked, underappreciated beauty.

Catching snatched looks at that hidden beauty as I drove, I thought, Good for you…

You don’t have to be THE best to be beautiful.

And my fingers tightened down on the steering wheel as if doing so could lock down my heart and fight back the tears.

As a writer, mom…as a woman, I’ve compared myself to everyone around me. It’s a dangerous pastime where I ALWAYS lose. Either by looking down my nose at someone else, or realizing I don’t measure up.

I’m beautiful in my own right….except when I’m not.

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See the grasses were dry and brown, rather like I am right now. I’m not only not THE best, I’m not even MY best right now. I’m as brittle as the grasses, feeling boring, tired, and taking it out on everyone. I’m up against some physical issues . . . again, which have me channeling a rabbit in both what I put into my body and what’s coming out. And I don’t even care if that’s TMI.

There in the car on the way to the next doctor’s appointment, the light trickled across me, falling on the grasses. Highlighting failures and at the same time beauty.

Not only do I not have to be the best, I don’t even have to be MY best, to be beautiful.

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And neither do you.

“Dog Days” of Summer

DogIf you follow me over on Facebook, you know we have a slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog named Odie. We rescued him when his previous owner moved into assisted living and had to give the puppy back to the breeder.

From the first day we brought him home, Odie has been an endless stream of funny stories. And since we’ve officially entered the “dog days of summer”, I could use a smile. And I suspect you could use one too.

So let me introduce you to my puppy.

Odie is an adorable mass of brown, black, and white fur. Extremely smart, but when we first rescued him, scared of everything, even the grass (seriously). Although he loved to be pet, he preferred hiding in his crate to playing fetch with the kids.

At first, the only way we could coax him outside was if I took a treat with me to bribe him into the grass, and stayed nearby. So I was shocked when a few weeks in, Odie greeted Romeo, our neighbor’s cat, like he was a long lost friend. Trotting with his puppy tail extended long behind him, Odie was clearly inviting the kitty to come play.

The cat, however, wanted nothing to do with this new situation and came up hissing and spitting. Odie, now recognizing that the kitty was not an old friend, took off running in the opposite direction. No doubt looking for his crate. But to his puppy delight, Continue reading ““Dog Days” of Summer”

Decimate the Divide

Divide“Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over the last week, these words have been echoing in my head, and I couldn’t help but reflect on the prophetic thoughts in my blog last week . . . Freedom is a powerful thing.

I honestly fought this post. I wrote a different one. A funny one which I’ll post next week. But I found I couldn’t not post this one because I see how the events of this week could change the lives of my children.

So I ask you:

We have freedom guaranteed by our laws, but how are we using it? We have the freedom to carry weapons, the right to free speech. Continue reading “Decimate the Divide”

A Call to True Freedom

Freedom

I’m sitting at my kitchen table, the slider open to the summer night sounds. It’s warm and the air is heavy with expected rain, and the sky is slowly overcome with thunderheads climbing and tumbling forward.

The coming storm is a beautiful and dreadful thing. Pulsing electric and alive. Capable of bringing life . . . and destruction in equal measure.

Two hundred and forty years ago, a group of men signed a document declaring their independence from a separate nation. In doing so they launched a grand experiment. One where there are self-evident truths: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But our freedom is a beautiful and dreadful thing.

Continue reading “A Call to True Freedom”

Making Life Worthwhile

Be Something

 

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question we pose to nearly every child we meet. For the record, my daughter’s answer veers wildly from writer to mom to artist to scientist while my son’s answers are a predictable shrug of the shoulders and impish grin.

But I’ve really come to hate that question. You see, as I’m creeping up and over the hill, it seems to have returned to my life with a vengeance. You are 40-years-old, what do you want to be?

Unfortunately for all of you, it such a familiar sense of lostness that the question has a name–middle age crisis. And what a crisis it can be. Continue reading “Making Life Worthwhile”

Summer Blue–A Poem

Summer Blue

Summer break is still new enough that we haven’t done too much complaining of boredom . . . yet. It’s open and we can sleep in and just breathe for a second. Paint, throw water balloons, read, . . . and go to the beach. Can’t forget the beach, where the sky breathes into the water, which slides into sand.

This unique place is one of our favorite destinations. If you’ve never made it to our neck of the woods, we have, arguably the best beaches in the world. Seriously Western Michigan’s white sandy, fresh water “ocean” coastline has often found it’s way into top mentions right alongside Hawaii, Florida, and the rest. So in honor of Lake Michigan, I give you:

Summer Blue

Continue reading “Summer Blue–A Poem”