Author Archives: Bridget

twist and twirl and swirl

Darkness still hugs the earth,
The Sun begins her pull & tug to the top.
Something calls my name & I look up into the indigo morning.
Not quite clear, there’s a haze between this world and that.

A bright star waves good morning
And I stare closely at her.
How sad, I think, she’s lost her twinkle.
But, chin up, she has a strong, steady stare.

“Wait!” I think.
I know that look, that unwavering countenance.
That big, round body,
With an ever-swirling storm in your soul,
At the heart of who you are.
This twirl of energy defines you,
How we’ve known you for a hundred years
And (maybe) a hundred more.

But one day, one day
~maybe sooner than we think~
your heart-gut will find solace.
And the churning, turning, burning will fade away.

Everything changes eventually, doesn’t it?
Even the sure & steady.
Nothing ever stays the same.

And change is coming, you can feel it -
Not knowing quite what that means for you
Or for those around you.
We never know where the ripples of our life will reach.
And yet – for now – you just keep going on,
Going ’round and ’round and ’round some more.
Never slowing down,
Never showing all the change inside.

Good morning, Jupiter.
Your secret’s safe with me.

things done and left undone

Each Sunday we kneel to pray,
a chorus of voices calling out to God.
We pray for our family, our friends, our community.
We pray for those who are hurting.
We pray for the ones who serve the world with kindness.
And we pray for ourselves.
We thank God for all the mercy rained down upon us.
We thank God for our blessings.
And we pray for the forgiveness of our sins.
And that? That’s where it really kicks me in the heart-gut.

Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father
in your compassion forgive us our sins,
known and unknown,
things done and left undone;
and so uphold us by your Spirit
that we may live and serve you in newness of life, 
to the honor and glory of your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Right there. Those words.
Our sins – both known and unknown.
Things we’ve done and things we’ve left undone.
Oof.

The things I know I’ve done wrong?
I’ve got that. I can work on those within.
But the unknown?
Those haunt me.
A few years ago I found out that I’d hurt someone when we were teenagers.
I never, ever knew it.
I said something in passing, something flippant that just popped out of my mouth.
And for years she’d been holding it in her heart, aching.
I’m glad she told me. I’m glad I was able to say “I’m sorry.”
But it led me down a path of questions.
How many other people were holding my words in their heart.
I pray that there are more good than bad, but my mouth…
Oh, lordy…my mouth, how it betrays me.

At the same time, how many words have I not spoken?
How many times have I not stopped to ask if I could help?
How many times have I not paused in my busy day to make someone smile?
When have I not stood up against the norm and said, “This isn’t right!”
How many times have I not fought for what is good and pleasing to God?
(I ask, but I’m not sure I really want to know the answer).

And this is why we pray for forgiveness
~for the things known and unknown,
the things done and left undone~
and try to keep our eyes open to the things we missed before
that we may, by God’s grace, begin anew each morning.

May the spirit of the Lord uphold us all,
and may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

eat. sleep. read. repeat.

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 2.29.13 PM

eat. sleep. read. repeat.
eat. sleep. read. repeat.
That’s all I’ve done today.
And (for the most part) the day before that.
And I needed it.
A lot.

This Christmas I promised myself I wouldn’t do so much.
We made cookies with friends, but I didn’t make all my traditional snacks.
(We still had plenty anyway).
I pulled everything down from the attic so we could decorate,
but the boxes are still sitting in the garage.
Tree. Lights. Ornaments.
That’s all we did.
Not even a nativity.
We talked about it, of course.
And read books.
But didn’t actually put out any of ours.
And I think that’s okay.
Because we needed less.
Because our days were certainly not less.
We packed in a few field trips for school.
We visited with friend after friend after friend.
We went to see dancing and hear music and play with more friends.
We had Christmas once, twice, and yet again.
We ate and laughed and smiled and loved it all.

Until my self ran out of steam.
Until my brain and body became over-saturated.
And even then it was good,
But I just couldn’t pull myself out of my own head
And really enjoy it.
It’d all gotten too full – my heart, my head, and my senses.
Overwhelmed by too much of a good thing.
I’ve never quite understood how that happens.

So I shut down.
I holed up in my room.
And I slept.
And I read.
And I wrote.
And I colored.
And I let my mind just hide away for a little while,
Draining out in the colors of the rainbow, fast flowing words
And filling up with frivolous stories of fanciful people.
Resting in a world that’s not my own.

And I feel me coming back.
I’m almost ready to slip quietly into life,
Hopefully as quietly as I slipped out.
Picking up where I left off -
With a lot of good and even a little not-so-good.
(Because without one, the other loses meaning).

So here I sit
eating
sleeping
reading
and getting ready for tomorrow.
And it will be good.

twenty-one seconds

This morning as we were rushing out the door – we’re always rushing out the door – the littlest cried, “I don’t have my hat!” She was already buckled in so I darted back inside to grab it. It was in my bathroom, of course, because who doesn’t leave their hat in someone else’s bathroom? As I was coming back out, my big girl shouted, “Can you get my Amelia Earhart hat?” Ugh! She didn’t even say please. (She’s going to be Amelia Earhart for a school presentation in the spring and we’re grabbing bits and pieces of costume as we go along).

One of my biggest parenting goals is to teach my children to be self-sufficient while also having enough self-confidence to ask for help when they get stuck and really can’t do it on their own. Dancing around the details of exactly how to do that, I often find myself tripping over my own feet. It’s a major struggle for me as a mother, and I get so incredibly frustrated with them about it. So when she called out to me, my initial reaction dripped with bitter extract de annoyance. I caught myself just before I screamed at her to get it herself. Then I decided that maybe I should just pretend that I never heard her. If she went in to get it, it would take forever. If I went back in, it’d probably take half as long but still…we were late! Late, I tell you! But, ya know…we’re always late, I thought to myself. So as my foot hit the last step, I turned sharply and dashed back up the stairs.

It took me twenty-one seconds to run up the stairs, grab the hat, and come back down. Twenty-one seconds. I know because I counted. And with each second I realized that we were going to be late anyway, so what would twenty-one seconds matter? Or thirty-one? Or even ninety-one or more? We’re not talking about a life or death situation here. Just preschool drop-off.

I hit my arm on the car door as I jumped into my seat, mumbled a bad word, and tossed the hat back to her. She smiled and said thanks. As I drove I started thinking about how many times I’ve asked people to do things that I’m perfectly capable of doing myself, of how many times I’ve quickly tossed out a, “Hey! Could you grab my (phone, drink, book, etc.)?” It doesn’t mean that I’m not self-sufficient. It doesn’t mean that I’m rude and lazy. It’s just something we do for the ones we love.  And I want to teach my children that, too. Maybe the dance is beginning to get just a little bit easier.

(P.S. She didn’t even wear the damn hat).

I can do hard things!

She is a very diligent student. She is thorough and determined. She’s also incredibly sensitive. And when she doesn’t understand something, even a brand new something, she gets upset about it. I don’t know where she gets that. ;-) And it’s difficult for me. I don’t want to downplay her fears and feelings, but at the same time I don’t want to not push her. If we’re never pushed, we never move forward. It’s tricky.

Sometimes I take pictures when my children are feeling vulnerable, when they are struggling with something. These are pictures I never share with others. These are sacred moments between mother and child. These are pictures of conflict that beg for resolution. I don’t capture these moments to be mean, I do it so that I can show these pictures to them later. I want to remind them that once upon a time walking was hard for them. Once upon a time riding a bike was hard. Once upon a time adding seemed impossible. And look at you! You did those things! Was it easy to start walking, riding, or adding? No. But you did it! You did hard things! And it’s then…then they can really see themselves for who they are: someone who can do hard things.

On the dreadfully difficult days, this becomes our mantra: I can do hard things. It usually starts with me saying it quietly, reminding this determined little child of mine that she can indeed do whatever it is that we’re working on. I prod a few times and she whispers it along with me. We say it again, a little stronger this time. And stronger and stronger and stronger…until the tears are gone and we believe it. We both really believe it! And even once we’ve reached the pinnacle of belief, we keep shouting because once you know that you can do hard things, it’s hard to stop.

*This phrase isn’t just between me and my 8 year old, though she’s the one mentioned here. Some days find all 5 of us chanting it, cheering each other on. And I can promise you that there are days when I am shouting loudest of all. 

in the kitchen

I stand in the kitchen and listen to the quiet. The children are walking around the neighborhood, a freedom they’ve recently earned. The older two are now responsible enough to make sure the little two make wise choices, something we talk about over and over and over throughout our days. I relish the quiet now, but I can see myself standing in the kitchen years from now, making chicken and green beans and wild rice, but only for two. Then in the quiet I’ll hear my memories laughing and squealing and having fun. I’ve learned that it’s rare for memories not to become sugar-coated over the years.

I snap the beans two or three at a time and wish they’d come straight from the garden. One day, I tell myself, I’ll have a garden. One that actually produces enough to make it worth it. But by then I won’t need as much and I’ll (maybe) have more time, so that should work out nicely. I want peas, maybe purple hulls or lady peas or both. I want to sit on the front porch, rocking back and forth, shelling until my fingers are raw.

The pot sizzles at me as I move it onto the burner and I snap back to now. Even in the quiet, there is a cacophony of sound.
Snap.
Sizzle.
Hiss.
Hum.
Swish.
Bubble, bubble, bubble.

I love my todays. Sometimes they are exhausting. Other times, exhilarating. We laugh, guffaw even, together often. Occasionally we catch tears running down each other’s cheeks, overwhelmed by the moments.

I love my yesterdays. Drenched in sunshine and rainbows, they smile back at me. A few dark clouds hover in the background, the moments that will never go away but drift farther and farther away.

I love my tomorrows. Full of hope and promise. I love to dream and think about what will be, knowing darn well that nothing happens exactly as planned. It’s the swoops and swirls of life that make life what it is, makes us who we are.

I wonder who I’ll be then.
I wonder, too, who I am now.
But I do know this: we are more than just a collection of memories, more than a bucketful of dreams.
We are bits of this and bits of that, full of stardust and matter and imagination.
We have always been and always will be.
Matter is neither created or destroyed, remember.
Created in the image of God, I stand in the kitchen and wonder…

 

Bigger Than The Stars

We spin and spin and spin, one child after another and my head swirls as I fall into the grass. It’s been way too long since I let them wrap their arms around me and swing them ’round. One squeals in delight, one screams in exhilaration, one goes aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh with his voice wavering up and down, and one laughs and laughs and laughs. My heart races, but not from the spinning. I love their unbridled happiness, how each one does their own thing, personalities gleaming through the swish and swirl.

I’ve been listening a lot more lately. I laid in the grass so long one night that dew settled on top of me, soft, almost imperceptible. I looked up at the sky and watched the clouds pass, some scurrying along and others dragging, tired and sluggish. It is night, after all. And when they all had gone their own way, there was nothing left but me and the stars. I’m not sure where the moon ran off to. Maybe playing hide and seek with the horizon. I found myself spinning and spinning and spinning, heart racing and full. Here I am, just a girl in the grass. The stars seem so teeny tiny and I so big. Everything is relative, isn’t it?

As I sunk into the ground, I felt the grass cradling me. I heard the air, really heard it barely sweeping by. A bird. A car far off in the distance. Crickets going and going and going. Do they ever stop? A bullfrog joins the song and there’s a symphony of sounds in the silence. If we only stop spinning long enough to listen.

 

See what you’ll see. Be who you’ll be.

It’s been so long since I’ve written here. I wonder if my children will look back one day and say, “What happened? She just faded away”. But the truth is that life got in the way. Things got crazy and busy and words needed to come, but they didn’t. Maybe I wouldn’t let them, or maybe they were just stuck. I can’t really tell. Either way, I feel them coming back. My fingers are dancing over the keys now, happy to be clicking and clacking away. My heart pumps hard with all the thoughts I want to share. There have been so many moments – splendidly amazing moments, painfully agonizing moments, and a million moments in between. I can never go back and recapture them, but sometimes you don’t need words to feel the moment as it was, as you remember it.

The moment below needed words. I want…no I need to catch his words and bottle them – the sound of his tiny voice, the way he stumbles over a word here and there, those big trusting eyes that look right into my heart. Oh, these precious children of mine. I do love them so. I like them so, too.

photoDate night with my funny little fellow. He ordered grilled cheese with broccoli because the other option was fries and fries are made from tomatoes. No, not tomatoes. Amatoes…ugh! What is it, Mommy? Oh, yeah…potatoes. And I laughed on the inside, but not the out because I never want to hurt his big feelings that are smooshed into that little body. I had a salad with chicken and a delightfully tangy vinaigrette and all the fruits I love best. I finished well before he did, even though he only ate one piece of broccoli and all of his sandwich except for the crust. (I don’t like crust either). We sat in silence for a while, and it made me think of so many meals I’ve shared with Marshall; just sitting together and being quiet. We’ve laughed before how other diners probably think we’re mad at one another or have just run out of things to say, but the truth is that my brain is always going, going, going and so are my words and I’m surrounded by a cacophony of sound all the time and it really is such a release to just sit and be.

We were there together because he’d had a rough day. He yelled in anger at his sister, and when I butted my head into the conversation he teared up and said, “But I never get to be alone!” And gush! My heart gate flooded because I know (oh, how I know) exactly how he feels. I love having my family around me. I love being with them. But sometimes it’s just too much. I need quiet and focus and {deep breath} just to breathe. So I asked him if he’d like to go on a date. Just the two of us and he grinned and picked the restaurant that had the best grilled cheese.

On the way out the door, I reached out for his hand. He’s taken to rejecting my hand by saying, “I’m brave enough, Mommy” as we cross the parking lot, but this time he obliged. I looked down at him. “Thanks for holding my hand. I love holding your hand”. “I love holding your hand, too, Mommy”. And almost imperceptibly , he sighed out, “I like you”. “I like you, too, love”, I whispered back. Oof.

As were were coming home, the sun was shouting goodbye as loudly as she could. She waved to us between every tiny crack and crevice of the forest. And he held his cup up to his eye – his big, beautiful eye - and looked out at the world around us. “Whatcha doin”? “Oh, just looking at the world in a different way. I like to do that sometimes”.

{Me, too}.

The Long & Short of It

If you just want the short version, scroll down.

The Long:
I’ve told the story a hundred times but it never gets old to me. Does it for any mother? The hours I pushed. How he seemed to be stuck. And then POP! (I actually felt a pop, unlike anything I’ve ever felt before or since). And then he tumbled into this world, and it was there but no one saw it. You can see it clearly when you look at the pictures. It’s funny how pictures capture things you never noticed in the moment. They cleaned him up and there were some whispers. The nurses noticed quickly and paged the on-call pediatric nurse practitioner. She swooped in, swaddled him, and brought him over to me. She held him near me, talked of abnormalities and what they knew and what they didn’t know. He is healthy, she said, but there’s this one thing. And she danced around the one thing for what seemed like ages. It may or may not be related to any other issues. We don’t know. It’s nothing I’ve personally ever seen before, she said. And, y’all, my honest thought was that he had an extra head growing out of his neck. It seems ridiculous now, but that’s what I thought. I’ve always had an (over)active imagination. She finally got around to telling me about this “abnormality” and I laughed. I laughed! And then she looked at me like I had an extra head growing out of my neck! She’s prepped it as some big, awful thing and I was just so grateful he didn’t have a neck-head that I laughed. So he was born with 10 tiny fingers and 8 tiny toes. Even then, I never worried. And I can usually compete in the national championship of worrying, but with this it just was. The pediatrician came in the next day and said that sometimes some syndromes can be connected with limb deformities but my heart-gut knew that he was syndrome-free. My very first baby, I (of course) thought he was perfect. I was (and am) proud of his special foot and I love that he embraces it as what makes him unique.

We saw a few specialists after he was born (thankfully we were living near an academic medical center that has great doctors and many resources) and it was decided that we would do nothing for now. Nothing can be done to add extra toes (and there’s no need, really). But eventually, when he was around 10, something would need to be done about the discrepancy between his leg lengths. When he started walking, they said, he may need a shoe lift. But he walked well without it and the difference in length wasn’t enough to harm his hips and so we just let it go. We’ve always had to buy two pairs of shoes to create one “Carter pair” but that’s manageable. Last year it was decided that the difference was enough to warrant a shoe lift - a pretty significant one at about 3/4in. And so we bought four pairs of shoes (to make two pairs) and took them to the orthopedic shoe place where they sent them off and had them custom-made. It wasn’t difficult, but it wasn’t cheap either. But you do what you have to do and move on with it, I suppose.

A few weeks ago I noticed that his gait had returned to a limp-step, much like he’d had right before we started with the lifts. So I called his orthopedic’s office and asked what I needed to do to get a new lift prescription. They told me I needed to bring him in and be measured again. So yesterday a friend (thank goodness she was able to go!) piled into the car with me and the kids and we drove to his office, which is about 2 hours away. I assumed we’d be in and out like normal. It didn’t happen quite like that. I won’t go into all the details of the visit because although it’s an adorable story, it’s not my story to tell. Maybe one day Carter will share with you but it’ll be up to him whether or not he shares that part. I will say this much. When the doctor first suggested that it was time to do the procedure, Carter wasn’t very thrilled with the idea. The doctor, resident, and I talked over the options and I made the choice on how and when to proceed. In retrospect, I should have included him then, but I didn’t. I’ll just blame that on the fact that I was a little surprised that we were here already. Last year we’d been told his bone age wasn’t anywhere close to where it needed to be for surgery. I knew he’d grown significantly in the past year, but I didn’t realize it was that much. So I called Marshall and was going over things with him when I noticed that Carter was sitting there, stunned. I  quickly hung up the phone and sent my friend out to the waiting room with the other children so that he and I can talk. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t included him in the conversation at all. I try to be cognizant about keeping my kids in the know about things that will affect them and I felt really awful that I’d just breezed through this without ever talking to him. I asked him what questions he had and he had some really great questions. Questions that I, honestly, probably should have asked before consenting to such a big procedure. So I asked if the doctor could come back in and answer some questions. The resident came in and was so very wonderful with him as he asked a handful of really thoughtful and specific questions. I told him later that I was proud of how logical he was about it all and how professional he sounded when he asked his questions. He didn’t shy away. He knew what he wanted to know and he asked.

The Short:
So here we are. After a lifetime of knowing that this was coming, it kinda slapped me in the face when it got here. I was expecting another prescription for a new shoe lift; I left with a surgery scheduled for a little more than two weeks away. The procedure is called an epiphysiodesis. The epiphysis is the big, rounded end of your leg bone. Between that big, rounded end and the long, straight part of the bone is an area called the epiphyseal plate, or (as most of us would call it) the growth plate. They will use an eight-plate, which is (as you may have guessed) a plate that’s shaped like an 8. And they’ll use this plate to essentially hold the big, round end of the bone and the long, straight part of the bone together so that the growth plate can’t grow. This will allow the shorter leg to catch up to the longer leg. It will mean that he’ll be shorter than he would have been otherwise, but that’s much better than having wonky hips and a lifetime of hip problems.

He’ll go in early on June 12 and they will do it as an outpatient procedure. After that we’ll come home with him on crutches for a few days, maybe a week. And he’ll have to take it easy for a little while. I’ve explained to him that it will hurt some but that the benefits far outweigh the risks and long-term effects of not doing the surgery. He is a little nervous (as is normal) but pretty excited about having unlimited electronics time. I, oddly, have been pretty calm about it all so far. We have been seeing the same doctor for almost his entire life and have developed a bit of a rapport with him. He is an excellent surgeon and I have complete confidence in him. I was a little taken aback initially that we were at this point already, but I’ve yet to be nervous. It’s one of those times when I hear Marley singing in my head, “every little thing…is gonna be alright.” And it is. It’s all gonna be alright.

 

Mornings aren’t what they used to be.

Things are changing around here. My kids are becoming more self-sufficient, and I can catch a few more minutes of sleep without having to worry that someone is going to break something (or break themselves). I wrote about it on The Simple Moms but still wanted to share it here. The contest I mention at the bottom of that post is over, but our story isn’t. Things will keep changing but I’ll still want to remember this.
#momishere