Still, the beautiful ideal to me is a hard but simple farm life and a dining room table school. But that's not my life at all . . .
If anyone anywhere very desperately needed to take her own advice, it would be me.
So, I started recording myself.
Because I have thoughts. Many of them. And I can’t write them down
legibly fast enough.
I have an app on my phone called “Tape a Talk” which is far better for everyone than the old write and drive. Oh yes, with my eyes on the road . . . and yes, sometimes I couldn’t read it. Thoughts always come to me when I am driving.
Maybe because I used to do so much of it — driving. Hours and hours. For years. But for some beautiful, unselfish reason, my husband does most of the driving now. He manages to get one to practice on one end of town, take the other two to work out with him on the other end of town, and go back to pick the other one up. Drives them to the bus. Picks them up from football games . . .
I know. I am utterly spoiled.
Anyway, I’m listening to one of my recordings, (which is a whole lot like listening to my sister’s voice messages — our voices are practically twins) and — now remember, I am only talking to myself. There is NO one to interrupt my thoughts — I’m chatting away on the recording and suddenly, for no conceivable reason:
“There was something I was just now thinking of . . .”
“ummm . . .”
“I can’t remember what it is.”
This is a conversation with myself. Out loud. Recorded.
And there you have it: I get distracted even when I am talking to myself.
But the conversation I had with myself was a good one. I was talking about our kids, and I got a little wistful thinking about how much I loved them from the day they were born, and how love grew as they did, and how now I love them more than I could imagine.
And when I got home, I browsed the photos on my computer and realized our youngest grew up overnight in spite of my watchful eye.
And tonight, on his tip-toes he was taller than me, and my husband said “no” when I wanted him to look, and I suddenly realized why he drives them everywhere . . .
* * * * *
One day, my memory will be even worse. And I will be the lady with the cats and the books and the unruly garden, living on spinach dip and tortilla chips and feeding Dave TV dinners. And our kids will drive me around when they come home, and I will talk to myself . . .
(I’m guessing that will happen in about six years. Or around Christmas.)
And I was reminded of this verse — children are a gift — and I found it attached to the other one that has been nagging at my mind and I realize maybe my memory is not so very bad after all.
Maybe it just needs a little sleep.
* * * * *
It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones.
Children are a gift from the LORD;
they are a reward from him.
Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
because you can only stay up way past your bedtime so many nights in a row before it all catches up with you.
I have lived in the Pacific Northwest for a dozen years, and I just bought my first pair of actual rain boots.
The first year we lived here, I didn’t really own socks. I had worn flip flops nearly year round in Southern California. I remember one day my neighbor said, “You need to get yourself appropriate footwear.” I smiled and laughed. We were kind of poor. We needed things like food and gas.
Eventually, I accepted the cold — got socks, and all purpose rain/snow/low top boots, but I never had the real deal: tall rubber boots. Brand new! For less than what it costs to feed my boys at Taco Bell — which has become a standard of measure.
It’s kind of amazing what the right footwear can do. They actually made me want it to rain . . .
. . . and go on an adventure.
So my sister and I hit Seattle to celebrate her birthday. She has lived here for a little over a year and is very much delighted by the rain and tromping around the city in the rain sounded like the perfect way to spend her day.
Of course, I managed to hit every light on the way to the ferry, took too long to find a parking spot and feed the meter, and I had to run to catch the boat. I am always running to catch a boat. (The last time I rode the ferry, I was the lucky last car. This time, I was the sad loser watching through the terminal window as the gangplank raised and the boat left. Win some/lose some. Even Steven.)
Half a minute faster would have done it. But either rain boots are not good running shoes . . . or I am not a good runner . . .
Anyway, we had a lovely time in the city.
We walked all over, ate someplace we’d never been, drank coffee and talked about all the things we could fit into four hours of conversation. She is a writer, an editor, a cancer survivor, a wife of a man in ministry, a mom of teens, a cat lover and owner, an avid reader, a smarty, a voice for justice, an artist. I love her, and she lives here now and we get to be in our forties together.
It was a good day. But it never rained.
That is, it never rained on us. Rain boots, rain coats — we were so prepared!
The rain started the second I got off the ferry and into my car to go home.
On the way home, I thought about some things. You know, like you do when you are gliding over the water, breathing the soothing sea air.
1. Teaching your kids to love each other and enjoy each other’s company is so worth the massive amount of effort it takes when they are growing up.
I’m so thankful that my mom spent so much of her days refereeing children. I know from my own experience that it had to have been exhausting. But I have always believed one of my primary jobs as a mom is to nurture the friendships inside my house. I want my kids to always love each other. How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! Psalm 133:1
2. I don’t dread the passage into fall and rain so much this year ‘cuz look at those fancy boots!
Live the season,
I wrote so many thoughts over the weekend and not one of them is ready for print. Not even on the internet.
I did, however, have a breakthrough last night when I realized the post I had written was the very thing I needed for something else but was definitely not the right thing to post here.
Sometimes, I wish I had written things for people to read when I was so sure, so certain of equations and sums.
If I am this sort of wife then, if I am this sort of mom then, if I am this sort of worker then . . .
But I’m very glad I didn’t. Because now, as much as I may like to think a thing should be this way, or this effort should produce this result, I know outcomes are not always up to me.
Perhaps that is the real crisis of mid-life.
Suddenly, the things you thought were real and true and guaranteed do not turn out as you expected.
The marriage you thought was unbreakable is broken. The effort you put in seems wasted. Children grow up and make their own choices in spite of (and sometimes to spite) you.
I am more reluctant now to open my mouth with certainty. Because what will come of it all is not yet known.
Because the important of yesterday fades as the walk becomes more by faith less by sight. Where I once thought I had a measure of control, I have discovered I have none at all. And the great mystery to me is that the less I am sure of myself, the more I am sure of God.
Because if you ask me if I believe people can change, I will say yes without a shade of doubt.
Ask me if there is hope in the worst of circumstances, and I will say always and never give up.
Ask me if the broken can be restored, and I will say nothing is so broken it cannot be mended.
Ask me how to parent a child, and I will say pray always without ceasing.
Ask me how to keep a marriage together, and I will say forgive.
Most things I write need to sit a while . . . and then filter through life and be worked out . . .
Sometimes, I think that’s the thing. It's a base instinct: If I don’t fight for my space, if I don’t yell loud enough and long enough, someone else is going to get what’s mine.
Sometimes, my "better than" comes from wounds. Maybe yours does, too.