First Peaches

I have a thing for trees. I know every tree in the yard. I have watched them grow and change over the last two decades. It has been a few years since I was home so I was a little surprised to see an unfamiliar tree in the backyard. I didn’t think too much of it until today when my mother mentioned the peach tree. 

I hope to start a fruit and vegetable garden and had just recently been researching how to grow peaches. They grow well here. But I found out that growing them from a seed is not always successful. They don’t always germinate. Even if the tree does grow, there is no guarantee that it will produce fruit. So when my mother mentioned the peach tree, my first question was, “does it produce fruit?”

“Yeah, but your dad cut off the first season. That makes the tree produce better quality fruit, apparently. The first fruits aren’t very good.”

Anyone familiar with Christianity, and especially the teachings of Jesus, will know that gardening, planting, harvesting, etc. are recurring themes. I don’t know chapter and verse, but I was brought up hearing that God wants us to give him our “first fruits”. I had always assumed, and was probably taught, that that meant He wanted our very best. The peach tree made me think otherwise. 

What if the first fruits that God so desires from us aren’t our very best? What if they are whatever we have to offer? Our feeble, unpracticed attempt at an offering. Our hope that more and better fruit will grow in place of what we’re giving to Him. The deepest part of the heart is revealed by what we are willing to give up. An experienced gardener would have no problem offering his best peaches. He would be proud to do it. The real sacrifice would be for a novice like me to give up the first signs that my work had been a success, the small, green, bitter fruits. 

All this occurred to me in an instant. An epiphany in my bare feet, revelation in the bright summer sun. 

 Welcome to the yard, Peach. 

  
Image

Nine Months…

IMG_0749
Nine months in, nine months out. The scar is fading but it’s still just as visible. A permanent reminder of the connection between my temporal body and infinite spirit. And you, Baby Boy.

Nine months in, nine months out. I don’t believe that. You are growing so fast and learning so much. You’ll be walking soon. But will there ever be length of time long enough to make us free of each other? We separate into our independent beings a little more every day. Your body from my body. But your heart from my heart? Never.

Nine months in, a lifetime out. In love you were made from two bodies searching for some bit of heaven on earth. You took shape, were made into a physical form, but I believe our spirits are more fluid than our bodies. Love washes over us, through us; it binds and stretches. My scar will continue to fade. Your body will grow and your heart will expand. But we will go on living in love, Baby Boy. Live in love.

Nothing Impressive To Say

2015/01/img_0617.jpg
“I had nothing impressive to say.” My husband’s words have stuck with me the past few days. He had just come home from an event where he saw some old acquaintances and so had been asked the usual, “What are you up to these days?”

Our conversation made me wonder what I would answer if I were asked the same question. “I’m a stay-at-home mom.” Unfortunately society hasn’t yet come to see that as impressive. (Unless of course you become a successful blogger who shows all the other SAHMs how to do it right. But that’s another topic…)

Then I asked myself, “Does it even matter to me?”

For a good portion of my life I was very concerned with being impressive. (I’ve written about that before so won’t go into it too much here). I felt I had to do something great and famous and change the world for good so that my life would be worth something. At some point in my conversation with Husband, I realized that is no longer the case.

I don’t know when or how, but at some point I realized I don’t have to save the world, much less impress others with my life. It may have something to do with becoming a mother, but my definition of success and desire to influence has changed drastically. I’m trying to live as I want my son to live.

Do I care if Baby Boy becomes rich or influential? No. Do I want to pressure him into living a life that will impress others? No. I want him to live with the eternal end in sight. He isn’t old enough to understand yet, but I tell him frequently that the only thing I care about is that he learn to love and be loved. I don’t care if he wants to be a doctor, astronaut, artist, or gas station worker as long as he understands love.

There is a lot of grace required in order to live a life with love as its ultimate goal. I don’t think that comes naturally to the human race. We make mistakes. I make mistakes. But I’m trying to regularly remind myself to keep the eternal end in sight. When I meet my Maker, what would I hope He would say of me? “Well done, you…impressed a lot of people.” No. I hope that when God and I look back on my life He will say, “You got it. You understood love. Maybe no one kept track of the countless times you fell into bed at night, spent from caring for that little boy. But I did. Every quiet act of selflessness, every choice, every try, every tear spent on love instead of ambition-I saw. Love was your highest goal. Well done.”

One Great Love

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5ec/64170914/files/2015/01/img_0594.jpg
January 5th, 2011. My 28th birthday. I stood alone at the top of the stairs and watched you. The sun set the colors on fire and singed every detail into my memory. You walked through the small crowd of our friends and family and waited for me.

I hadn’t been able to eat for days. Several times in the hours leading up to that moment at the top of the stairs I thought I might faint. But when I saw you standing in the afternoon sun I had to keep myself from running down the aisle.

In the four years since that day you have broken me. You have chiseled through my layers of rock to the blood pumping flesh I would have chosen to forget. It has been a slow and steady daily process, and not without pain, but what would I be otherwise? Unscathed and perfectly alone.

I once asked myself why I love you. I wasn’t satisfied with any of the reasons I gave myself. None of them were enough. Until I realized it’s just who I am. Why do I love old books, or watching clouds, or rainy weather? I am not myself without loving you.

I would like to think that some great goodness inside of me chose this path of messy, bloody love, but that isn’t true. You know how hard I fought against it. The truth is, I had no choice. I’ve examined my life, played out as many scenarios as my mind can fathom. In every possible story, you are my One Great Love.

Today is my birthday and I am standing at the top of the stairs. Every day you wait in patience, calling me down to join you in a love that’s not afraid to get its hands dirty. I’m coming, my love, I’m coming.

The Girl, The Wanderer, and The Woman

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5ec/64170914/files/2014/12/img_0650.jpg
My birthday is next week. I will be 32 years old. I’ve always looked younger than I am, but I think now I’m starting to look my age. I’m not as fit as I used to be. A few greys are starting to show in my mid-length brown hair.

Let’s rewind ten years.

I wore electric pink Adidas, was a size two, and was falling fast and hard for a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I had a pixie cut and one-way ticket to California where I would board a ship that was to take me around the world. If anyone had asked (and I seem to remember that someone did) when I planned on settling down, my answer would have been never.

Now.

I want nothing more than a little house of my own. I dream of a garden and watching my baby grow up. I look forward to growing older and wiser with the man I love.

Ten years doesn’t seem that long when I compare who I was with who I am. When and how did the changes take place? At what point did I feel that I had satisfied my wanderlust enough to want some stability? If that 22-year-old walked into my house today, would I recognize her? Would she see any part of herself in me?

I had a few minutes to myself yesterday and so I did what I always do, what I have been doing since I was a little girl, when ignoring petty responsibilities… I sat at my window and watched the clouds go by. While sitting and watching, I noticed a scar, very tiny and still healing, on my right middle finger. I cut myself last week and my finger throbbed in pain for two days. Now it is barely noticeable. At what point did I stop noticing? When exactly was the last minute that I felt the pain?

Time has healed and changed me as surely and as slowly as my hair has grown. I can’t pinpoint the where or the how. Through exchanges, glances, conversations, thoughts, and millions of minute by minute choices I have been transformed and will continue to be.

I sat at the window and watched the clouds move and morph, their shapes shift and swirl. The girl, the wanderer, and the woman sat sipping tea…one in a daydream.

Just As We Are-Memories While Waiting II

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5ec/64170914/files/2014/12/img_0624.jpg
We went to the Palace to take family photos. It’s known for having the world’s most expensive Christmas tree in the lobby. “Not today,” the security guard said. “There’s a wedding today. No visitors without a reservation.”

My husband’s parents, sister, and three brothers all live here as well. Getting such a big family organized to do something like taking family photos is an accomplishment. “Just go with the flow,” I told myself when Husband, Baby and I left the house. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected.

We quickly, miraculously, changed our plans and decided to take the photos at the in-laws’ house, in front of their Christmas tree. I realized as we drove away from the Palace that I was relieved.

We are not rich. We are not fancy. We are emotional, guarded, disorganized, and underprepared. We laugh loudly at crude jokes. We have wrinkled shirts and smiles on our faces. We swear and call each other names in a mutual understanding of love.
We have no business in a spotless palace, taking perfectly posed photos in front of the world’s most expensive Christmas tree. We are too real for that.

Half of us looked in different directions and the other half made faces. The camera flashed and captured us as we are. Just as we are.

The Anti-Mommy: I Strive For Mediocrity

IMG_0532.JPG
My house is a disgusting mess most of the time. There is almost always a pile of laundry needing to be done. The kitchen sink is never empty. Crumbs and dust seem to have made a permanent home on my floors and countertops. Cat hair has woven itself into all my clothes and furniture. The days when I had the luxury of keeping my house clean are a distant memory.

I’m lucky if I get a shower every day. If I’m not leaving the house, I’ll most likely be wearing pajamas. If I put on makeup, there’s a very good chance I’ll still be wearing it the next morning. Other than the daily walk with Baby Boy, I never exercise.

I am in constant doubt of myself and my abilities as a wife and mother. Did Baby eat enough? Is he growing? Is he healthy? Is he progressing in his development? Should I take him to the doctor? Should I be sleep training? Is he pooping enough? Sleeping enough? Interacting enough? Am I enough for him?
Have I even looked at my husband today?

Guilt has become my closest companion. I feel guilty for mistakes I haven’t even made yet.

I purposely stay away from all the Mommy Blogs out there. For two reasons: 1) I think they must be full of lies. What mother really feels confident enough to put herself on display for the world to see that she’s got all her her handmade, monogrammed ducks in a perfectly organized row? She can not possibly be genuine. 2) But maybe they really do have it together. If that’s the case, then I can’t ignore the fact that this is a struggle for me.

If you’ve been following this blog, you may have started to get the idea that I don’t like to just be good-I like to be the best. If I can’t be the best at something, then I probably won’t try it. As much as I love being a wife and mother, as much as I’m trying my best, I feel there are a million things I must be doing wrong.

A few years back I was teaching in Haiti. I spent a lot of time there with my friend, Beth McHoul (Google her!). She is one of the most amazing people I know. She finds homes for orphans, educates women so they don’t have to give their children up for adoption, delivers babies, and runs marathons. She said to me once, “God has blessed me with the gift of mediocrity.” Needless to say, I was completely confused. “I don’t stress if things aren’t perfect,” she explained. “It’s okay for things to be just good enough.”

I’m sure that Beth had no idea how many times I would think back on that conversation. It’s been years since she said it, and I’m still not there yet, but I’m working on being satisfied with just good enough. There is peace in that kind of mediocrity.

While crying to my husband about all my deficiencies the other day, he asked me to try and think of at least one positive thing, one thing I might be getting right. I looked at the messy, toy-littered floor. “Baby is happy.” That was all I could think of. I haven’t made him a scrapbook. I haven’t knitted socks or sweaters for him. His clothes are usually streaked with food and his fingernails are a little dirty. But I am sure that he knows he’s loved. Of all the things I lack, love for my son is not one of them, and when he smiles at me I know he feels it. If I get nothing else right, I can be satisfied with that.