Monthly Archives: March 2010
We’ve survived our own version of March Madness. The gnarly stomach flu.
Luke gave it to Steve and me, and I have never in my life had to clean up someone else’s barf while I, myself, am barfing. This was an entirely new level of motherhood. On top of it all, Luke had his first ear infection, so Luke, Steve, and I were all incredibly pathetic, stretched out on the floor in collective agony. And Lane—somehow miraculously spared—danced around all three of us, laughing and bonking us on the heads, like it was a game of dead-man’s duck duck goose.
Just to give you an idea of how truly mad it was, Steve lost 8 pounds in 36 hours. As you might imagine, we are only now recovering.
In some weird way, I will say it was fun to have Steve home from work those days and all of us just camping out together in the living room. Even though we were so ill, it was strangely fun to be ill together. We ate Top Ramen and watched basketball from a little nest we made out of blankets and pillows.
The week before we were struck with the stomach plague, we went to Arizona with Steve’s family for a reunion with his grandfather and his aunts and their families. I felt finally at the stage with the babies where I could enjoy some activities with them instead of just constantly caring for them. We took them in the resort’s pool and ran their heads under the manmade waterfalls, which they loved. Steve took each of them down the slide and they both grinned when they hit the water at the end (Luke clutching a lemon wedge in his hand that he would not let go of the entire time he played in the pool). They toddled around in the grass with their older cousin, Fynn, and kicked the ball and laughed. They played hard and napped hard and ate like linebackers. A good showing for all. Perhaps the first time ever that I came home from a “vacation” with kids feeling truly refreshed. Dare I say, a very imperceptible corner has been turned, and a bit of ease is making its way back into our lives? Hope arrives.
I spoke at a MOPS group this week and a woman at my table has quadruplets. In addition to that little world-rocker, her husband is deploying this fall. Another woman at the table has two kids and her husband is currently in work-ups for their fourth consecutive deployment. I asked her how they have stayed married, and she got teared up and said she doesn’t really know, and then said it was only due to their values. She also admitted that she was hanging on by a thin thread, and the woman next to her squeezed her hand. Another woman at the table, with three kids (twins and a singleton), talked about how so many of the women she knows right now are “suffocating” and “trying to claw out” because life is requiring so much of them. She talked about how easy it is to “lose” yourself, how much easier it is to lose yourself, than to fight for the space to participate in your very own life.
I left the group feeling moved by their honesty and their willingness to try to walk with each other through difficult days. I also felt the weight of women grieving together.
Grieving deployments. Grieving miscarriages. Grieving shelved dreams. Grieving chaos. Grieving lost identity. Grieving the struggle. Grieving the constancy of caring. Grieving change.
Last night, I watched the double OT Xavier vs. Kansas State game. What a heartbreak for Xavier. In sports, you learn how to lose. You never get comfortable with it really, but you learn how to channel the energy of the loss into the next practice or the next game or the next season. You learn how to let that feeling of frustration fuel you to become better. You learn how to stay within yourself the next time around and how to trust your teammates and their strengths.
Oh, that life could be just as clear as sports. In life, the stakes are so much higher, with the wins and losses not as neatly divided into two separate categories. I know I have been feeling loss lately, as I’ve shared in some of my recent posts. The loss of freedom. The loss of space. The loss of hope, on some days. The loss of sleep. The loss of clear thinking. The loss of a shower, for crying out loud!
I like how the ladies at my MOPS table approached each other’s losses. They never said a single word of surface consolation to each other. They never gave each other quick-fixes that invalidated feelings or experiences. They listened to each other and acknowledged how hard life feels some days. And then they gently reassured each other that they were willing to be a companion on the journey and that they were willing share each other’s burdens. Some losses. And some wins, too.
Well, at my house this month, we’ve lost some weight, we’ve lost some bodily fluids, we’ve lost some money to co-pays and antibiotics, we’ve lost some sleep to a barfing fifteen-month-old and to his sister who sometimes just joins in on the wailing for no apparent reason, we’ve lost some of March to sheer madness, and . . . yet . . . we’ve won some too. We’ve won a bit of found time together (albeit under terribly unromantic circumstances), we’ve won some laughter at a resort in AZ, we’ve won a love for lemon wedges and instant noodle soup, we’ve won some perspective (well, we could have had quadruplets!), and we’ve won a subtle hint of hope for what’s to come with our little family.
We may have March Madness and April Madness and May Madness and . . . you get the idea. But we’re doing it. And we’re doing it together. The Big Dance.
(Amazingly darling photo of Luke and Lane courtesy of Katie Gardner, www.katiegardnerphoto.com)
I’m very excited to be newly writing for both www.wivesoffaith.org and www.faithdeployed.com, two sites that provide incredible resources, encouragement, and support to military families worldwide. You can read my first post, “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,” on www.wivesoffaith.org.
Sara Horn (founder of Wives of Faith) and I share a fabulous editor at Zondervan. Sara’s latest book, God Strong: The Military Wife’s Spiritual Survival Guide, just released in February. If you know of a military wife who could use some company and care, please pass on all these resources. So many of our military families are stretched and thinned and isolated, and they really need to know they are not alone.
Even though you might not be a member of our military personnel, I hope “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” is meaningful to you. After being up with sick babies last night (Lane was awake from 10:30pm-1:30am, including an awesome barf, and Luke was up from 3:00-4:00am — thanks, Steve, for getting up), I am revisiting the message of that post already and trying to breathe in its truths.
Hope today finds you believing despite what you can or can’t see.
Love upon love.
My friend Susan posted a comment to my February 18th Lent post that moved me. Suz and I played volleyball together at Liberty, and I feel — like I do about so many of those girls I played with — as though we grew up together. Surviving ages 18-22 in each other’s company, away from home, binds you to one another like little else.
Suz wrote that she wants to hold on to her daughters and be present with them, but the day just seems to get away from her. And before she’s had a chance to act on her intentions, the day is done. In her letting go category, she mentioned the word “despair,” which is the exact word I’ve been thinking about lately.
Last year, I read Kathleen Norris’ Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life, and it profoundly challenged me. It’s a somewhat dense book that you really have to wade through at times because the concepts are simultaneously very new and very old and always very relevant. Even though I read the book months ago, I’m still hanging on to so many passages. In fact, after I completed the book, I spent a whole day at the Coronado Library typing up underlined sentence after underlined sentence and I keep them on my computer. I’ve quoted her endlessly since.
Norris talks about the seasons in her life when she has been overcome with this cloud that just hangs over her life and renders her numb or depressed or despairing. Some of this she attributes to the “demon” of acedia, originally one of the deadly sins that is still commonly named and experienced among monastics. She likened her writing life and her married life, and ultimately the caring for her terminally ill husband, to the daily life of the monk who must begin anew each day and who often finds despair in that infinite task. Somehow that book reached inside me, a very new mother and a very new author, and gave words to my propensity for escapism and numbness and the general blahs. Kathleen, if you’re out there, you saved me! You really did.
And now, I find myself circling back to some of those same feelings, and I know I need to be proactive in caring for myself and my soul. Perhaps, more proactive than I’ve been lately. That’s part of despair, isn’t it. It lulls you and then you realize your life has lost some of the luster you love and crave.
I cried at my Growth Group on Tuesday night when I said I didn’t want a single day to go by that I didn’t appreciate the gift that my babies are to me. Some days I just lose track of myself and of them, like what Susan was saying, and I forget how magical it is that they are mine and I am theirs.
Additionally, Steve has been gone two of the last three weeks, and I always feel a little more spiny and ruffled and vulnerable when he’s away. I feel his absence for myself and I also feel it for the babies, which makes it a double hit. I was buoyed by all the help I got this week, all those who reach out to me even when I don’t know to reach out to them. I think of all those military wives/mothers who are far from friends and family, and I wonder how they do it.
Every year for Lent my church invites a handful of us to write devotions that are posted on the church’s website. This year I wrote three: “Trouble on the Parade Route” (Feb 21), “When Life Doesn’t Resolve” (Feb 22), and “Unspokens” (Feb 23) that you can read at http://www.diveintoflood.com/impactblog/archives/category/impact/resources/lent2010/page/2. I’m especially resonating with “When Life Doesn’t Resolve” today because I want so badly to give you a clean resolution to this post, but it’s not in me. I guess what I will say with certainty (maybe this is a resolution of sorts) is that God’s invitation for me today is to participate. The despair makes me want to check out. But God is inviting me to participate. In healing. In grieving. In beauty. In truth. I don’t know how any of these big feelings in me will resolve or what it will take to get to the other side of them, but I just know I have to participate. Those are my marching orders.
I’d really love to know how you participate, how you handle those creeping feelings that seem to blow in like a cloud-cover and hang over your soul. Where do you turn when you feel that way? What helps to let the sun in? How do you choose to participate in your life even when you don’t feel like it?
The Found Art blog tour kicked off yesterday! Oh la la. Check out this very cool photography challenge at http://tasramar.com/2010/03/found-art-discovering-beauty-in-foreign-places-giveaway-challenge/. I’ve got some photos posted on Tasra’s site, and I’d love to see what you come up with. Where do you see beauty and inspiration? Capture your vision of found art.