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[Quiet Thoughts] Summer Motherhood

2 months ago

1409 words

Photo: I took a bunch of pictures with my “good” camera in the hopes of getting one good enough for the Christmas letter at the end of the year. When this came across my screen, I laughed so hard that tears came to my eyes. Sometimes you run across a photograph that is your kids in their most raw form. No fake. No filter. This is that photo for me. This is what my kids look like. This is how they look at me. I cannot wait to use this photo for a yearbook or a wedding slideshow or something. Hell… this might be the Christmas card!

 

Me this week:

Talking with my aunt, who was handing me a bag of corn: “Is this corn super sweet? Like, cloyingly sweet? I don’t want the boys eating that too-sweet corn.”

My aunt and my uncle looked at me like I had three heads. “There is no such thing as too-sweet corn, child,” they said.

“No, like… haven’t you noticed? Corn is too sweet! It’s ridiculous! Much sweeter than when I was a kid! Nobody…. none of ya’ll…. I’m the only one?”

They nodded at me. I am the only one. They told me the boys would love the corn. The boys, indeed, loved it… because it was so damn sweet.

 

Also me this week:

I purchased new goggles for two little boys so they could play in the pool at camp this week. Simple Speedo something something goggles… kinda like the ones in the photo. They come with “right fit” or “easy fit” adjusting straps… something with a button… and the plastic straps have these hard ridges so that the straps won’t slip. Unfortunately, the ridges are so inflexible, you can’t seem to move them in any direction, buttons or not. What I’m tryin’ to say is they are impossible to adjust. Dear Reader, I went to the Speedo website, I went to the YouTubes, I cursed at the things and shook them, I tugged and growled…. I could not adjust the stupid things for the life of me.

And this is what came out of my mouth (add a bit of southern inflection and hands on hips here): “Since when do you need three degrees and Dwayne Johnson arms to adjust swim goggles? When I was a kid, you just tugged and BOOM! Goggles adjusted! What’s wrong with stuff these days?”

The boys looked at me sideways (with pity and disappointment, as I did not solve their problem thanks to my ineptitude). I heard myself and laughed. I don’t know who I am becoming, but I certainly make myself laugh. I’m often accused of being old-fashioned, a comment that usually makes me wrinkle my nose and stamp my feet… but it’s the truth, I’m learning. I suppose that’s just who I am. (I’ve always known. Perhaps I’m emerging from denial.)

There is something about summer… or something about being home… or something about this different schedule… I don’t know. My Quiet Thoughts are about the funny moments when motherhood meets personal mayhem, and that is amplified by the quirks of life (read: getting older). It’s always at unexpected times, often thanks to the random little annoyances that seem to pop up during the day… and they are sincerely freaking funny. Even if you’re the only one laughing.

I don’t think I’ve every appreciated a summer so much as this one. Finally, we’ve figured something out here. Just the right balance of fun and relaxation, but purposeful and full. The boys are occupied, but not overwhelmed. I’ve got space to work, but also lots of built-in time to be with the boys and see them as they are. We’ve done everything from play Uno to watch Inspector Gadget, toss a ball and pelt each other with water guns. I have to hold onto this when it’s winter and we’ve been in the same room together for 6 weeks and we’re on our 5th snowday and all I want to do is run away screaming. Hopefully then I’ll have the wherewithal to stop and see the boys for who they are as they are, appreciating something about them.

Which brings me back to that photo above… the seeing is really important. I’m with my boys all day every day, and I see them and hear them… sometimes it’s hard to stop and take stock of the milestones, appreciating who they are as they are in a given moment. I think that’s why the photo above is so funny to me. I love the genuine nature of it. I don’t know what I said or what they reacted to, but these are faces that are pure. It’s them.

This is them, too:

better

They are both. Often at the same time. I love them to pieces. They drive me to the absolute brink… but they are joy embodied. Lordy.

It’s a hot and sunny day. My belly is full of sushi. My boys have a few more hours of camp. Life, personal and intimate, is good. Yes, I know that life, external and broad, is on fire. Balance, Dear Reader. I’m here to help you counterbalance the exhaustion. Stay with me. Breathe.

Have I given Friday wishes in a while? Fridays are always for wishes, even if I don’t always get to write them. Let’s start with balance. I wish you rest this weekend, Dear Reader. I wish you time away from the news, not because you don’t care, but because you care so much that you need to take time to process, rest, refocus and reestablish. I wish you the reminder that marathons are long, that sustaining practices of breathing and focus are vital. Take the time this weekend, Dear Reader. Determine the when and how of re-engagement after a break. I wish you a really good book. I’m reading too much at once: Hunger by Roxanne Gay, The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin (the third in that series), and I’m listening to The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin when I’m in the car. I just read The Liturgy of the Ordinary, which was a wonderful read and I’m about to dive into The Sacrament of the Present Moment as my next theological work. Whatever you choose to pick up, commit yourself to some quiet time with it. I wish you something yummy. Preferably grilled, for obvious reasons. Bonus points if you’re in a friend’s backyard, good music is playing, and someone is telling a great story. Extra bonus points if someone brings good wine. 🙂 I wish you fireflies on a starry night, birdsong on a pleasant morning, and the sweetness of quiet, intimate company for both such occasions. I have experienced some of my best conversations with my favorite people using no words at all. Try, just once, to do that this weekend. I think you’ll find that there are far more powerful tools for communication than words.

Here are words I always write to you because they are always true: you are loved. You are loved profoundly. You are loved by people near you and far from you, people you see daily and people you haven’t seen in years. You are loved by people who don’t know you personally, but who know of you, and simply knowing of you is enough to know how worthy you are of the love you get. You are loved by people in this world and in the one beyond, people who came before you and people waiting their turn. What you do matters. Every day that you wake up and walk in this world is a day that makes a difference to someone. You are, for more people than you could possibly know, a shinning light in a very dark world. You provide hope, you set an example, you make the dreams of others possible. This is the power of your infinite beauty. Yes, you. You, Dear Reader, are infinitely beautiful!

So continue on doing what you do. Whatever it is. And make sure that you remind people of their infinite beauty as you go about your days. Tell them who they are. Tell them they are loved. You never know what good you’ll set into motion by simply saying the words we all need to hear.

Until Monday, Dear Reader, hold onto the plow, shine brightly, breathe, rest, read, tend to your fire, love with all fierceness… and take care.

2 Replies to “[Quiet Thoughts] Summer Motherhood”

  1. I read this post about a month ago and it stayed present in my mind. This post made me realize how much I wanted to learn how to swim.

    Last week at 36 years old my boyfriend gave me my first swimming lesson since I was 8 years old. I had to learn everything from how to put my head underwater – a fear I didn’t realize I had, along with blowing bubbles. I even had to learn how to kick my feet.

    I wish I was that age again where I had all day to practice in the pool, the lack of grown up hesitation, insecurity, fear and worthiness. I hope by next summer I can swim as well as my kids can, maybe even jump off a diving board once or twice.

    You & your family are incredibly inspiring.
    Much love from Canada!

    1. Emma! I am sitting in a restaurant on the verge of tears! I’m so proud of you and your bravery. It’s HARD to learn stuff like this as an adult. We have to choose to love ourselves enough to forgive ourselves and allow ourselves to learn through trying, failing and doing. Lord oh Lord do I know that’s hard. I am just so moved that you are doing this good, hard work.

      Words are powerful. I write to tell my story. If they move people to try something new, that’s a wonderful bonus. It’s a blessing to have readers. I’m so grateful that you read my blog. Thank you. Please, please, PLEASE share your future endeavors with me!!!

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