Monthly Archives: October 2013

Breastmilk Boo(hoo)

It always catches me off-guard, that moment when the scab is ripped off. I’d completely forgotten about it and then I hear a conversation or read a post and it all comes rushing back to me. And I know that the people who share these words do it out of love. They believe whole-heartedly that breast is best and they want you to believe it, too. And here’s the thing, I agree with them. In other circumstances, I might even be one of them. I might be the one rattling off all the benefits and calling for others to try harder, go longer. But I’m not because I couldn’t be. I couldn’t nurse my babies. And I see them now and I know – I know beyond a shadow of a doubt – that my babies are growing up to be smart, productive (tiny) citizens of society. But still it haunts me, this ache that has lessened with time but never completely goes away. I wanted to breastfeed my babies and I couldn’t. I did it all, tried it all, gave it my all (and then some) and it just.didn’ I don’t think I’ve ever cried more over a single thing in my life. Giving up broke my heart every single time, even after I promised myself I wouldn’t get my hopes up. I always found myself daydreaming of a nursing newborn and how wonderful it would be, but things rarely turn out like they do in our daydreams, I suppose.

Of all the things in my life that I wish had maybekindasorta been a little different, this is what I wish I could change the most. I bottle fed skin-to-skin. I made lots of eye contact. I did everything I could to make bottle feeding as much like breast feeding as I could and yet I still feel like I missed something. And, as illogical as I know it is, I still feel like I did something wrong. That it was my fault. That I didn’t try hard enough. That I gave up too quickly. That I didn’t try more things. Even though I know damn well that’s not what happened. The mind is a funny thing, isn’t it? 

I know this much though: my children are pretty darn smart and imaginative, even without that liquid gold. I mean, what 4 year old asks to be the man in the moon for Halloween? That’s some serious thinking outside the box.
the ivey league halloween 2013

Gratitude (or something like it)

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Is there a word for that moment when you feel so overwhelmed with gratitude that you can’t even move? That moment that just socks you in the stomach so hard that you can’t breathe and tears roll down your eyes simply because you’re aware – so veryvery aware – of all the good, all the beautiful, all the wonderful that’s right here in your lap. Surely there is. I may even know the word but my whole body is so absorbed in living and loving this moment that there’s no brain power left to add words. Or maybe there aren’t words. Maybe it’s something that transcends language.

I start to count my blessings and I can’t finish one thought before another crashes into it. Words are too slow, too cumbersome, too human to catch up with what I think, what I feel. And I’m convinced that this is the kind of prayer that brings me closest to God. The kind of prayer that has no words.


I read about some inequality or hatred that I’ve never heard about or even thought about before…and I squirm a bit in my seat. Scootching to the side, I leave room for my familiar friend Uncomfortable to join me. I may not like it, but I have to remind myself that Uncomfortable doesn’t always equal Bad. Uncomfortable means that I’ve noticed, that maybe even if I want to look away, my heart-gut is saying, “Listen up…this is important.”

So instead of shying away, I sit with the Uncomfortable. Let it weigh heavy on my chest and really wrestle with it. What does it mean? What does it mean for me? Do I dare to even ask? Maybe…maybe…I’m supposed to do something. Write a letter to the editor. Stand up for someone who might not be so easy to stand up for. Go do that thing that my heart is telling me to do. Or, possibly harder than any of those, change. Change my heart, change my mind. Changing isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of growth.

I think I’m growing now. I walk around with the uncomfortable weighing down my pockets. I hide it there, thinking no one will notice. And it’s not, like it’s been a hundred times before, that I’m uncomfortable in my own skin. Quite the opposite, really. Certainty is the belt holding up my heavy-pocketed pants. But how long can I drag around these stones of hurt and frustration and disconnect before I tire my own self out, like a toddler runningrunningrunning until – all of a sudden – I stop.

I open my head, my heart, my hands…waiting for something, anything.
And, for now, this is all I find:
You must love each other, just as I have loved you.

I think that’s enough to keep me busy for a while.

Simplicity and Slate

“Mama! Is this a real slate like Laura and Mary would have used?”
“Yeah. Kinda like that.”
“Oh my gosh, Carter! Look! It’s a real slate like for learning stuff. Like in the Little House books! Can we get it, Mama? Pleasepleasepleasepleeeeease.”

The girl knows I’m a sucker for books and that this will be an easy sell. (It was).

"Little House Best book ever! I'm reading the fith book!!!!!"

Little House
Best book ever! I’m reading the fith[sic] book!!!!!

We started the Little House series several months ago and we used to take a break between each book to read something else. But the end of book four was so sad and book five begged to be read and so we started it the next night. Every night I read to them. (The little kids get their turn earlier in the day). They are both completely capable of reading these books independently but there’s something about hearing it read aloud that makes it magical. And as long as they will let me read to them, I’ll continue to do so. It’s one of my favorite parts of having children. Seriously.

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We went on a field trip recently where there were covered wagons and beef jerky and a little log cabin. Her eyes glittered with excitement and happiness as she listened to the guide talk about the tiny house and how Laura’s house would have been much smaller than this one. Whoa! I thought. And I glanced at her and she mouthed the same to me. We were smashed into the tiny cabin with maybe 20 other people, double what it was built to hold. Can you imagine 8-10 people in that tiny little house? There was one small bed and a crib, a fireplace, a table, and a rocking chair. The loft was tiny but aching for little children to visit, but rules are rules and there was no climbing the ladder that day.

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As I looked around at the simplicity, I wondered where it all went wrong. Hear me out. I’m not glamorizing it. These people lived hard lives and I’m not asking for tradesies (because, for starters, I <3 my A/C).  They endured struggles that I can’t even begin to imagine. But as I read the books I notice that they never seem worried about what made them “happy” or what feels good but what kept them alive and what was the best for the whole family. Were they better for it? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t have an answer, but it’s a question I think about often.

I read a passage tonight about the family traveling to Silver Lake. It describes mile after mile after mile of nothing but a giant sky and blowing grass. My kids can’t even really imagine grass tall enough to blow. And, if I’m being honest, I can’t imagine miles and miles of nothing. We live in a rural area, but not that rural. (Although sometimes I wish we did).

My eyes and my voice are both tired. I stumble over a word or two as my mouth tries to keep up with my brain (ever a problem for me). Her eyes are flicking on and off but she leans in, hearing each word and letting my voice take her on a journey that starts on a bouncy wagon seat and ends with her dreams. Her book of dreams; that’s the book I really wish I could read.

~just write~

Good morning, Mommy

He slipped into our big bed and he didn’t look little any more. He’s nearly as long as I am now. I heard his teeth chattering and asked if he wanted to cuddle. “I was just about to do that,” he mumbled sleepily and slid over. Hooking one arm around my neck, he rested the other on my arm, laid his head down on my cheek, and I wondered just how many times this would ever happen again.

His arms, still scrawny and small, feel stronger than I remember them being. He rubs his fingers gently on my arm for a minute and then stops, takes my hand and places it on his arm. Tap. Tap. He thumps me as if to say “my turn” and I run my fingers up and down. My other hand instinctively moves, too, and I am rubbing his back as well. Remnants of mod podge on my fingers snag on his tee shirt. My jaw starts to ache from where the curve of his head doesn’t fit perfectly against mine, but I dare not move.