December 19, 2014

Gray Matters

This week, rumors of an impending local protest have restarted the barely paused conversations of the Ferguson trial and all that surrounds it. Hash tags came back in full force pitting #alllivesmatter against #blacklivesmatter.  As arguments brewed on news forums and social media, I sat on my bed and in an instant,watched socially correct fall away and hate arise. Though I desperately want our city to be a changed place and our society racially friendly, when issues like this surface the facades fall away. 

I am certainly someone who feels ALL the feelings… and it is a temptation to jump on a side of an argument and FIGHT! In my earlier years, I’d be willing to go on a warpath, leaving bodies in my wake strictly to make a point.  But, now I have a different lens. 

My family isn’t “white” anymore.  And we aren’t “black” either.  We are both.  I’ve been given a gift of entering sacred ground where I can see a bit of both sides. Not just from a racial stand point, but in all areas of my life.

And I’ve learned that it’s in the gray where things change.

In life, there are times where we feel so passionate about an issue, that we would do anything to see change.  I know.  I’ve been there.  And although my friends and family didn’t necessarily understand or even agree with the issue, they loved me and therefore supported my cause. 

It’s sort of like when your boyfriend played a sport in high school. You didn’t give a rip about soccer or sports or all the athletic-y stuff, but that boy had your heart.  So, you never missed a game.  Were you a soccer fan? No. You were a boyfriend fan. 

I’m learning we can either support issues or people. Some issues may never change while we are here on earth.  But people… our PEOPLE are all we have. We belong to each other.  So, if someone I love needs to take a stand for something I don’t understand? That’s ok. I will stand too. Maybe I don't even agree with them. That's ok too. Because I know that some day soon it will be my turn, and when I look back, I’ll need them behind me saying "I'm with her. Her voice matters." I'll need them to believe in me, in spite of their beliefs.

I learned a new word this week.  It’s called the Mandorla.  This is an ancient symbol of two circles coming together, overlapping one another to form an almond shape in the middle.  It symbolizes the interactions of opposing worlds and forces. To step into the Mandorla is to move beyond "either-or" thinking - even beyond ideas of common ground or compromise - and stand in the tension of opposites long enough for something new to emerge.

I just keep thinking about what a difference we could make if we were brave enough to step away from our “side” and towards the middle. What if we let go of a stand, and held on to our neighbor? Even when it didn't make sense?  What if we let down our guard, surrendered our right to be “right” and boldly waited in the middle.  I don't think we'd be alone for long. I'll bet we’d look across and see others slowly walking toward us….entering the middle circle, willing to believe in change. Willing to believe in gray.

December 10, 2014

my kid doesn't have to be good for santa

I was finishing up therapy the other day and went to check out. Ok, fine.  I was at Target. But, I’m pretty sure even my therapist would tell you this is a recommended course of treatment when used correctly.

Mills was with me, and the lady helping us said to him, “Santa is WATCHING YOU, you know… you’d better be a GOOD BOY! Mama, is he being GOOD?”

I started sweating. For the first time, my child- my baby- was being launched into to the goodenough gauntlet.

“Well of course he is! But what a ridiculous question!” I sputtered. “He is Mills! And he has been exactly who he is supposed to be every day of his life! You should really stop leaning over the children and asking them the scary things!”

Both Mills and Miss Target were giving me the “you’re so crazy” face, so I wheeled out and shoved all of us into my car.

What are we doing? Far sooner than we’d like to admit, our children pick up the monologue some may never be able to shake…
-am I good?
-am I good enough?
-do I deserve goodness in my life?
-do I deserve punishment?
-do I measure up?
-... and on and on and on.  If you are anything like me, I am still trying to untangle all those thoughts and put some better ones in my brain.

Am I going to speak an identity over my child of good vs bad that may be a temporary fix for behavior but could lead to lasting shame?  Am I going to lead him to believe that God, also, is watching and judging him… making a list and holding record of his wrongs? AND let random Target ladies in on the torture? NO WAY.

I looked back at my little wide-eyed-feisty-headstrong-loving-rowdy-rough and tumble-sensitive-spirited-beautiful boy and said this:

Your Papa and I are so proud of you.  Today, right now, after you threw your cookie at me and tried to spit in my diet coke, I love you more than I ever have.  I want you to grow up and be kind and brave and responsible and all the things.  But I want you to know above it all, YOU ARE ENOUGH!  Right there in your car seat, you are enough.  In the trenches of your middle school years, you are enough.  In the highs and the lows, your behavior will never merit our acceptance of you.  We are delighted in you.  Ok?”

He got really still and nodded.  And then he threw the rest of his cookie at me.

So many times I need Matt to remind me that I AM ENOUGH too!

author's note: mamas... you know that my heart is YOU! the above statement reflects me alone.  if you need santa to get you through the holidays, you better believe I will dress up like the angry elf MYSELF and come get those babies in line for you!  it's all about making it through the day.  we are in this together!

November 17, 2014

what i learned from my two year old today

Every Monday morning I’m in a state of shock.  I’m shocked that I have to wake up.  Shocked that I have to get out of bed. I’m offended that I have to function at any hour that doesn’t end in pm and it’s alarming that I am expected to take care of another human. Since Matt continues to deny my requests to stay home and help me, I’m forced to stumble around and figure everything out on my own.

Today was cold and rainy and I woke up feverish and that was extra shocking for me.  Mabel tracked mud on my new white rug and that was especially offensive to me.  Mills and I had a rough go at it right from the start.  He was “fixing my hair” with strawberry jelly while I was “pretending” to take a nap.  He kept switching out his Elmo phone for my iphone and hiding mine in the refrigerator.

While trying to get ready, he simply would not accept that he couldn’t brush his teeth with syrup.  Exasperated I said, “Ugh, Mills! Just because!”

And then.  He looked at me with those enormous liquidy brown eyes and said, “Can you just be patient at me, Mama?”


“Can you just be patient at me?”

How many times do I want to say that to people in my life?  Can you just be patient at me when I forget to cook dinner? All week? Can you just be patient at me when I don’t call you back over and over and over? When I cut you off in traffic because “Shake it Off” comes on and I start dancing? When I slip back into my old unhealthy habits and it’s really hard to love me?  When I isolate for so long that it seems like I’ve abandoned you? When I forget to remember that God is good? Maybe you can just be patient at me.

Today I’m being patient at people.  And tonight we are brushing our teeth with syrup.

November 4, 2014

train up a child

Dear Matt,

When we decided that Mills wouldn't watch TV until he turned two... We knew EVERYTHING about being parents, didn't we?? And, boy! Having a toddler that wouldn't watch a television show in the dead of winter (because he'd never been exposed to one) was so awesome, wasn't it?

I wouldn't change anything, except the not watching TV part. And I'm glad that you're now intruding him to "the classics" or whatever it is you're calling this list you've compiled. 

BUT, if I have to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang one more time, you and I are going to have a problem. It may not be rotting his brain, but it is rotting mine! I couldn't worship at church on Sunday because the tune and lyrics of "TOOT SWEETS" are burned so deeply into my soul. 

Let's move on to another classic. My turn. I pick Scandal. 


October 22, 2014

airing my dirty laundry

I know I’ve been away from blogging for a while. It’s because I’ve been REALLY busy having it all together. That’s just the way I do life. I’m calm, I’m organized, I never let our clothes mildew in the washer. I certainly don't let my child eat string cheese for three days in a row before I realize the pack is rotten. In a word, I’m “together”.

This summer we switched Mills to a new school. I’m not going to lie. It’s fancy. When I went to pre-school, they scattered a bag of stale animal crackers on a table, turned on Care Bears, locked us all in a room, and it was kill or be killed. Toddlerhood is all about survival.

You can imagine our shock when, after touring Mills’ new school, we learned that he would be participating in yoga, science classes from a local museum, and eating meals prepared by a nutritionist.  Let’s be honest, as much as this looks exactly like our life at home (except not at all)… I had some concerns that Mills might run away from home. To his new school.

Part of my “together”-ness includes waking up before dawn every day, cooking a hot breakfast from scratch and (especially this!!!) getting completely ready for the day care drop off. Hair, make-up, heels… the whole nine.

Just a few weeks after we’d switched to the new school, I had an off morning. In 7 minutes' time, I was able to wake up the baby, feed him a pop tart (Which clearly just appeared in my pantry! Only organic non-processed food for us.), make his sippy cup of milk, shove him into something not-pajamas, pack his bag, find his shoes and herd him in the general direction of the front door. That left 45 seconds for me.  I grabbed some dirty yoga pants from my bathroom floor, threw on a sweatshirt over my tank top, pulled on my obligatory huge sunglasses and we made a run for it!  (It almost sounds like I’m really good at this. Like I do it every day or something.)

I wasn’t exactly sure about the carpool protocol so I got out, walked around to Mills and carried him to the enormous full-window front of his school. I smiled and nodded at other moms on my way out, hoping they'd notice my friendly self rather than my disheveled state. As I headed home, I made a mental note to never have an “off” day again.  The mamas at this school were of the "beautiful people" variety, and I had embarrassed myself a bit.

Once home, I called my friend Betty in Chicago.  It wasn’t until I plopped down on my couch and propped up my leg that I noticed an awkward bulge.

“Oh no.  Oh, please no. Nononononono NOOOOOOO!” I moaned.
"Ugh! What is the matter with you??” Betty sighed.  I'd obviously woken her up.
“I can’t even talk about it.  I’ll send you a picture.  Mills can’t go back to that school, though. EVER!”
“Huh? I thought you loved that place??” She barely got her words out before I'd hung up on her.

Lodged above the knee of my dirty yoga pants?  A crumpled up pair of dirty underwear.

I, quite literally, had on some fancy pants!

How did anyone keep a straight face that day?? Can you imagine how proud these people must be to have added us to their prestigious institution?  It’s a wonder they haven’t offered to pay our tuition yet.  Or better yet tried to hire me to work with these beautiful young minds.  Me, and my together self.  Stay tuned.  It’s only a matter of time.