Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Weeks of a child's health issue. Lesson prep for a new class. Lesson prep for Lanie. Yard. Home. Laundry. Shopping. VBS. Doctors. Rehearsals and recital. The Father's Day stuff. And a group gathering I thought I could handle just before a viewing and cakes to bake. I was cutting the grass fifteen minutes before they arrived.

I found I asked the same question to a friend at least four times. And when another friend texted about attending the viewing, I suggested we ride together. But when she replied later of extra in the car, I frayed.

I held my arms out balancing trays full of responsibility, and a daily onslaught of forward motion knocked them from my grasp. I watched it all fall.

This week--a specialist. A hospital. A yard to cut and food to buy. Recovery. Books to read and classes to prepare. Laundry. Shopping. More. This time machine keeps moving.

I grabbed a rag and wet it down in vinegar water, I got one for Lanie too, and together we started scrubbing baseboards. And then we wiped down cabinets and de-webbed the corners. It bonds us. We did the whole main level.

At the other house, I remembered therapy by fours. The little white 4x4 tiles on the bathroom floor and how I scrubbed them the summer we prepped to sell. How I prayed and cried and scrubbed and let the white clean soothe me.

Who am I in the midst of chaos? And who do I want to be? It humbles me.

I hunker down and time's forward motion pulls me.

The baseboards gleam and the laundry room's grays and whites are calming. I'm grateful for the very little things, the clean and order of one small space.

Monday, June 29, 2015

And still counting (8162-8173)

the wrestle
the new VBS
her early appointment with a specialist
peanut butter sheet cake

Jennifer's dad
a great dance show
an open house
blossoms on the zucchini plant

a friends swim
the awareness of (my) boundaries
quiet days

Monday, June 22, 2015

The hardest day of the year

I sat in her chair. I got an appointment that morning by the skin of my teeth. Literally, someone else was booking at the exact moment for that exact time. So thankful that other woman had wiggle room in her day, because I didn't.

Last week was unexpectedly full, despite weather interfering with plans to visit with a good friend, or work in the yard, etc. Health issues for a kid kept us bound home too. I have a towering reading list looming over me, and I don't think I can do it. I'm not superwoman after all, even though I rock yard work and invisibility. I felt so much like I've been running and still too far to go.

I spent Saturday morning running around: dance studio, Walmart for a red tank top for Lanie and a friend's daughter, another stop, back home for lunch, the hair cut, to David's to hug him and give him the pictures I took, then to the in-laws' for a cookout. Sunday had its own schedule of to do. I sat in that chair. It had been winter when I last got my hair cut. I'd been hoping all week to work it in, and couldn't.

"I'm seeing relatives I haven't seen in months tonight," I told her. "I'm so glad you could fit me in ..." And then talk, the talk no one talks about, the kind where people who want authenticity don't really want to get sucked into your honesty and either stand back in discomfort or in judgment. But she didn't flinch, maybe because she's heard it before from her chair, and certainly because she'd been there too. Because weight gain, and feeling so very unpretty, and please fix my hair because that's all I can fix right now.

"I even bought myself a shirt--at Walmart," I said. It's all I had time for. And this was how desperate I felt--to change the outside because the inside was so broken. I got a lipstick. And wrinkle cream. A shirt. A hair cut. I even impulse purchased a pair of earrings on my way out. I recognized it for the crazy it was, the desperation, like some shopping version of an ice cream binge. And the conscience that said, "You are enough" was told shut up as want overrode self-loathing. In the end, I knew this desperation was just all I could do to make the outside of me feel and look as normal as possible. The inside was a wreck. Father's Day does that to me.

It was great to be with my in-laws. Great for my kids to see relatives--even a cousin to play with! I felt safe among the company where I really learned hospitality. And when Uncle Jeff brought out the M&Ms, two full bags for each child (including two for a little friend who accompanied), I wanted to cry. Their thoughtfulness and generosity always blow me away. There was a lot of laughter, and I appreciated having sisters. We cut out when it was dark, right during a spectacular lightning show, and headed home.

I'd had grand plans to bake a scratch cake for my sister. But I realized, again, I can't do it all. Erin and I got potatoes at the store, and I picked up an ice cream cake. Had just enough time to make potato salad and iced tea, prep the sandwiches, and cut up the remaining blackberry cheesecake bars to put out.

I spent the morning crying for a friend who thinks it's his last summer because of stage four cancer. Crying over a text from another friend whose father is in hospice now, and she wanted to tell me that the family photo I took of them all last fall is at his bedside and brings her comfort. Another good friend is struggling at a second year without her dad on top of so many disappointments and issues. And my head was full of its own.

We celebrated my sister and I put a candle on her cake slice, and on Dad's and Shane's slices. My gifts seemed too small and not enough. I wanted to take them back, or at least not be in the room when they were opened. But I stood there and smiled in my awkwardness, hoping for normal.

"Don't you have a gift for Shane?" my sister asked.

"The kids gifted him this morning," I answered. 

And if the day's success is measured by full bellies and smiles, then it was a success.

They said words like thanks, goodbye, see you in five months. Her need is on the outside. Mine is on the inside. I sank back into the shadows. And now I understand why Camera 4 was my word for the year.

I returned to counting blessings. Thankful for my man, my kids, for family in all its various forms. Thankful for Monday.

And still counting (8146-8161)

This has been such a crazy blur of a week. Thankful for:

even sketchy internet
the couch
a hair cut
and a pair of earrings
David's hug

big burgers on the grill
family together
cousins for my kids
sisters for me
Connie, who understands

Shane at the pool
blue splash
another year with my dad
tomato plants from a neighbor