to my daughter

March 21, 2015 § 4 Comments

I wish I could capture the texture of a moment in type, to preserve what my mind will revisit in dreams and my camera could not contain. My fingers have been twitching with the words constricting the fullness of my joy, my mouth eager to whisper your news.

You can fly.

I’m not certain how we will convince your father you are earth bound. I keep imagining he will see the air that tugs at your feet or the windswept hair that hints at adventure, rosy cheeks and distracted smiles cautioning a secret. It seems impossible he will not read the difference in your gait or pride in your stance.

Today you road a bike. Pushing off of old fears no longer propped up by stubborn refusal, you swept across the cracked cul-de-sac of your friend’s front yard; eyes bright with certainty and your body leaning determinedly into each effort.

You are saving this revelation for your father’s birthday, gifting him something he has wanted for you longer than you wanted it for yourself; accidentally discovering pleasure along the way. Already, an hour later, I can see the temptation to try again in your restlessness.

You did this without me, my  hope was too noisy. Now my joy feels too big, like I cannot possibly keep my happy still long enough to surprise your father.

I can hardly wait to watch him see you fly.

Love, Mom

forgiveness (v)

March 19, 2015 § 5 Comments

Forgiveness is a tricky blessing, it dismisses us of the burden of our armor while leaving our hearts more susceptible to harm. We are at once both liberated and bound by faith in want of trust. It is an awkward, painful experience of hope. A terrifying leap without a net.

I am, by nature, a creature without wings. My feet drag against the earth unwilling to fly; to undress my armor and leap.

Today I spoke clearly and firmly of old hurts, pushing past the trembling voice of anxious defensiveness; laying down my pride. I honored an invitation to truth by purposefully naming needs without blame in search of understanding. Digging my heels into the moment I listened forcefully, making myself honor another’s courage to step vulnerably within painful memories.

Tonight my mind, body, and spirit are heavy with the muscle memory of letting go and holding on. I feel as if I fell through the looking glass and landed hard on uneven ground. Our normal feels too loud, uncomfortable and too eager, but it also feels like hope.

Forgiveness is a verb.

when you were me

March 19, 2015 § 2 Comments

Do you remember when we first met? When you gathered your grievances into an introduction and named the injustice of your treatment as a daughter-in-law? You itemized each indiscretion, pointing an unforgiving finger at your husband’s family; the alcoholic father-in-law who was verbally abusive, the emotionally recluse mother-in-law who treated you as insignificant despite your best efforts to please, the favoritism in treatment of your children, their grandchildren, or the value of money over relationships.

I never met your father-in-law. I barely knew you when I watched your mother-in-law die, this stranger whose memories had been stolen by Alzheimer’s. What she forgot, you remembered. Perhaps she filled such a space in your mind it was inevitable you might become her or assign me your role; accidentally or intentionally you have created a cycle of unhappiness that has consumed any kindness between us. We are living your past, but I will not become you.

Do you remember when you were me?

secret keepers

March 18, 2015 § 4 Comments

We bought my husband’s childhood home, begrudgingly; overpaying at the expense of our pride. It was a decision layered with gestures of false generosity and cautious hope, like the wedding we did not want, we acquiesced to parental requests in an effort to please. Our home, our wedding, and the years of silence all payment for a peace that never came.

My husband could not live among his memories; truths that are not mine to share but read a sad tragedy, an impossible fiction of reality. He moved doors and ripped out dry wall, tore up the floors and built new walls; still the secrets reside like scars hidden in fresh coats of paint. No amount of windows or light can disperse the ghosts who haunt our joy; flesh and blood they move among new boundaries with old demons.

We build a life around these secrets, with the wisdom of a professional who guards these truths and family friends who stand witness to old harms and new, releasing us from the burden of someone else’s unhappiness. They stand witnesses to the past we do not name out of respect for those we love but cannot live with. Guardians of the past, the secret keepers who remember even as we struggle to forget.

blarney

March 17, 2015 § 4 Comments

Years ago, when my daughter was young enough to be passionately invested in a pristine pair of starched white socks, I accidentally washed them into an unexpected shade of green.  Eager to distract my daughter’s disappointment, I suggested it may have been a leprechaun up to a bit of mischief for St. Patrick’s Day.

This morning my daughter began her search for evidence of shenanigans. A silly sabotage to favorite socks has inspired a series of traditions that are now hallmarks of our holidays with a promise of playful pageantry. Easter bunny “accidents” on the stairway, a curious confectionary mess, and April Fool’s meals made into mistaken menus, savory turned sweet and once visa versa.

Today, as I shuffle green pencils in place of our trusty yellow number 2’s, I am thinking of the sweetness of these early years; playful accidents of good fortune that permit us all to linger a little longer in poppycock and blarney.

 

the things we keep

March 16, 2015 § 4 Comments

There is a delicate balance to mothering children to love a family member who is abusive in their mental illness; to teach the innocent to love unconditionally what they recognize as wrong and experience as hurtful.

We accept injury often as inseparable from the individual’s identity. It is less a matter of forgiving and more a narrative of acceptance for the inescapable truth we cannot edit with a fallacy of make-believe.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

In motherhood I perpetually make excuses for familial unkindness, a trick of distraction to keep my children safely outside the line of harm while near enough to the madness that they might learn forgiveness and empathy; to claim their heritage honestly without shame. I am cautious to whisper my worries in privacy; to never speak ill, accuse or criticize in a manner that might offer judgment or blame to my children’s ears as we stand witness to the spiraling decent into cruelty.

In time the truth is not so easily hid. My children have heard hate in its native tongue, each small harm hardening the tender places of vulnerability against trust. There is no magic I can conjure to change what is and I am exhausted by the burden of untruths we bear in the name of love.

reading & retirement

March 14, 2015 § 3 Comments

Five years ago our daughter couldn’t read. Despite our best efforts and expensive programs she was slipping further behind her peers academically and her self-esteem was drowning in the shame of self-awareness. In a procedural pairing with a Reading to Intervention school program our daughter began to navigate her struggle to literacy with a hope that became the cornerstone of every set back.

One woman, a quiet spoken, kindhearted soul created a safe space for our daughter to succeed among her errors. The work of reading became an adventure and along the way we fell in love with the educator whose lessons tethered our lives with stories long after our daughter graduated from her company.

This is our daughter’s last year of elementary school and our friend’s last year guiding struggling readers through the emotions and mechanics of reading challenges. It is an impossible and inevitable truth of change and yet, I cannot imagine our lives without this woman. We are better versions of ourselves for the smile that makes us all sit up a little straighter in our efforts.

When I shared with our daughter her former teacher would soon retire, there was an immediate shock that quickly spiraled into grief, wide eyes with tears that threatened to spill unchecked. That’s impossible! Who would they ever get to replace her? What about all the other kids that won’t ever get to work with her? Then, a stubborn nod of her head.  She must be moving to another school to help other kids.

This is my wish for so many of the irreplaceable educators who have shared our path, that you know the boundless love of the children whose lives are better for the lessons that extend beyond the school day. Thank you.

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