The sound of men

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God, help me to remember the sound of a house full of boys. How many years have I snickered in the other room as I listen to their crazy antics?

When they were small- it was wrestling matches on the living room floor and army outfits and light sabers.
Little Indian buddies racing through my halls.
All they needed was popsicles.

Then came the monstrous thudding feet, loud crashes,
deep voices and sudden screams.
There were drums and banjos, pianos and guitars,
constant ribbing and unspeakable male noises.
All they needed was burgers and pizza and chips, and anything else I could drum up for them to wipe out.

Now… too often it’s the jingle of keys and the zipping of a jacket.
It’s the kiss on the cheek and the slam of the front door…
It’s a bagel in a napkin,
though it’s not really needed.
And a wave from the road.

It’s a new noise. The rattle of dreams.
It’s big plans and carefully, crafted schemes.
It’s girls — no — women.
Gulp.
It’s the sound of men.

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Photo credit: Linus Bohman

Letting Go…

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My children now see me as a separate person.
That feels strangely vulnerable.
What do they mean by saying they can see Dad and I living here or there?
Or that they can see us doing this or that?
There is a Dad and I?
I had almost forgotten.
Forgotten that one day — it would be he and I,
And we would be over the hump — that there would be another chapter,
Another chapter of he and I.

I have been inextricably entwined in the beautiful necessities of the precious everyday.
Deeply engrossed in the job of giving my absolutely everything.
Watering and tending the root, only when the day allows.

I have spent years treasuring my beloved and most cherished place as mother.
The cushion is still very warm.
I sit there awhile, looking out over the day.
It is increasingly mine.
I rediscover that I have my own preferences, my own desires, my own passions.

I am once again the lord of my own radio.
Let no one touch my pre-sets.

I find my husband’s hand… it is beautifully familiar — but strangely — not the same.
Do we remember how to dream together?

My heart is in the chair, my foot is on the road.
I look forward with anticipation and back with yearning.
A balancing act.
Let go.
I must learn to let go.

Thankful.
I have done this thing- however not perfectly well.
I have experienced the excruciatingly beautiful and primal process of receiving precious seed, carrying hidden life, and laboring through birth.
I have been made drunk with the desire to love, nurture and mold my brood —
my people — those who are connected to all that I am, all that I was, and all that I will be.

And now I am called to let go.
Not a little- but completely.
I am invited to drink from a new cup, explore a new realm of necessity and desire, and enjoy the warmth of a new season.

Obviously, to be continued …

Success…

I was told that I must work myself out of the job somewhere along the line- I just never fully understood the ramifications of such a success.
I’m somewhat familiar with the phenomenon;
I have watched my friends feel their way through the murky waters,
laughing while in tears;
resigned, yet determined.
Another life revolution.
Another season that comes without beckoning.
A successful release.

A silent game change for one of the most underrated, yet essential workers on the planet- the successful repositioning of mother.

Mother: the assigned life-giver, the assigned tender of tender shoots, the assigned protector of fragile bodies, the assigned cultivator of hearts and nurturer of souls.

 

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Photo credit: Jessica Garcia©2008

It doesn’t matter how many women I have seen walk this path and it doesn’t matter that they have lived to tell the tale- the experience still comes fresh and unfamiliar.

My life has been intricately and intimately woven into the lives of my children.
The inevitable unraveling comes with a tug and a pull, which results in a dull pain and an occasional sting. I find I’m not quite ready, no matter how many warnings I have been given.

It feels like being tied to a post- I vaguely know what’s coming and I watch it roll in, like tendrils of acrid smoke, and I brace myself.
I am to breathe deeply before being released.
Released into a new reality.
My position is suddenly redefined.

Now, quite shockingly, I feel like an old type-setting machine which has been relegated to the corner.  Wasn’t it just yesterday that I served faithfully and quietly as: Executive-in-Chief, Staff Administrator, Assistant to the President, Facilities Manager, Human Resources Manager, Event Planner, and Queen?

And, wasn’t it just yesterday that I served- maybe not so quietly- as: janitor, chef, counselor, medic, seamstress, decorator, chauffeur, and friend?

Yet, somewhere along the line, I managed to go from knowing everything- to knowing nothing; from being better than anyone at everything- to being rather less than satisfactory in my employment of skills.

Culturally, ‘mother’ is a job title assigned very little merit.  The serious pursuit of excellence in the execution of a mother’s duties is not considered worthy of accolades;
so it falls relatively low on the list of important achievements.
But God does trust women with a great and magnificent responsibility.
He trusts her to conceive and carry life,
to grow and nurture life,
to train and model life,
and finally, to let go of and release life.
The choice to fully embrace the role of motherhood with passion and intentionality is the highest achievement.

Ironically, in the end, mother isn’t given a letter of termination- or a severance- or even a security walk to the exit.
She is ultimately beyond and above that, trusted to be wise,
to laugh and weep,
and to keep walking with a more mature poise than when she first began.

Decades have passed,
my hands are worn and wrinkled,
and my eyes have grown wise…
I have worked long, grueling hours for the high payment of joy and tears.
I have given it all, mind, body and soul…
But now, it seems it’s time.
Like something out of an epic movie, I’m to be locked outside the gates of the city I helped to build.
I’m to follow the well-worn path that leads to the sun, which is setting on the horizon. Time to close this chapter of the book and begin scrawling in another.

I will be called back an undetermined number of times, to serve in my newly structured position. My technical expertise will be required on an as needed basis.
I am now consultant, sub-contractor and outside-insider.
Come closer- stop.
Stop- come closer.
And if these gyrations aren’t enough,
I am to know precisely when to keep my mouth shut.
God, that’s very funny.
You really have trusted me with the big stuff.

I hear the screeching of the tires- it’s time to get out of the car. There is to be no outward display of emotion at this point. I am just supposed to get out, keep moving, and carry on.

Mind you, I have not been dismissed as beloved mother and friend, and I have not been sacked as trusted and wise counselor… but I have reached the place where I have successfully worked myself out of a job.

My jacket buttoning, and brussel sprout cajoling days are over.
My teenage counseling services are almost unnecessary and my constant stream of advice is no longer welcome.
It’s on to the next chapter.
So, like a modern-day Mary Poppins, with a heart stuffed full of treasured memories like an old carpetbag, I take my first barefoot steps down the path ahead,
both laughing and crying,
resigned, yet determined,
ready for the next adventure.

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Photo credit: Rel Luttrell©2014

The Seasons of Motherhood…

About the bittersweet journey of motherhood and the milestone of graduation…
Read more here:

A New Rhythm

Artwork by Susana Tavares


Crawling out of bed tired

Lately, the little things don’t look like backyard adventures.
They look more like shopping for dress pants and cheap ties that might fit the boy for two weeks,
and practices and performances,
and algebra lessons,
and end of semester field trips,
and birthday celebrations,
and meetings,
and big decisions for next year.

The little things look like begging sorry to my honey for leaving bagel crumbs on the  kitchen counter as I go flying out the door.
Looks like forgetting what I came for
and coming back for what I forgot.

Looks like living in the country means we can’t run home and throw in a load.
Looks like we’re getting things halfway done and digging through piles for socks,
Looks like drinking lots of coffee and crawling out of bed tired.
Looks like not finishing anything.

Looks like wondering how other people get all this stuff right,
and then remembering that I’m almost 50 and
most certainly beyond such penchants to compare.
It also looks, conversely and hormonally,
like I’m old enough not to give a flip what anybody else is doing and how.
Looks like I’m glad for my girlfriends- doing whatever their doing,
smiling at me with that knowing smile,
it’s in the little things- even when they go very fast.

Looks like racing out early in the morning to check the baby bluebirds in my bath robe and staying up late listening to the non-stop, run-on sentence plans of two very active, young people. Trucks and cars and apartments and jobs and school and girls and guys and this one and that one and today and forever…
golden sound waves and bleary eyes.

Looks like my husband can’t find me,
but my toes can still find his toes under the covers.

Looks like my boy will drive.
Looks like I will soon be forced to wear shorts again.
Looks like I won’t be getting any younger.
Looks like I don’t know what’s coming next.

Looks like, when it comes to self improvement, my greatest opposition is
myself.

Looks like the little things are imperfect and profound and sweet and that even in the messed up mess of the day, I find myself stopping to say thank you.

Life in little things looks like embracing frustration and reaping joy,
It looks like running on empty and finding it full.
It looks like this life, this very minute.

Photo by Will Whittier@2012

Thank you God for little things,
Thank you for my little people, who aren’t so little anymore,
Thank you for the little moments that add up to big ones.
Thank you for my faulty processes and my little failures,
Thank you for stolen moments and infinite noise.
Thank you for the little things.