I laid my head down on the rug of my bathroom floor. Only because I had just washed it. It had not gotten all smushed down from repeated post-shower use. Yet. It was still fluffy and clean. And that worked out well because I was exhausted. Sad. Confused. Emotional. Beyond repair. Boggled thoughts. Unable to articulate what exact thought or event had triggered my current “distant” and sensitive state.
“What’s wrong with me?” I thought.
I emotionally scanned myself. It’s always difficult to determine what may be the exact reason for a sudden onset of the blues. Parenting exhaustion. Disease fatigue. A wave of grief. The grumps. A negative outlook. A sour face to go along with a curdled disposition.
My husband knows me well. It’s as if he immediately saw my thoughts escape somewhere else, away from the rowdy dinner table. I couldn’t tell another boy to sit down and eat. So I sat there apathetically. I knew that a glass of milk would soon surely spill but I was prepared to not react. My husband asked what was wrong.
“It’s complicated,” is what I thought.
So, I said nothing. One of my boys waved his hand across my eyes because I stared out the window. Apparently, I had not blinked or changed my facial expression in long enough for him to notice.
Occasionally, I get a bit overwhelmed. Maybe we all do. By life, in general. Or every little and big thing from the laundry to a busy next week to aching kidneys. And all the changes. The big adjustments. And the little ones, too. The future. The unknowns.
I can overthink. Overfeel. I can beat myself up but that doesn’t ever help. There are so many days. Juggling life’s moments scattered with a lot of relationships can be tricky, especially if you’re not so graceful like me. Balls drop. I sometimes bend over to pick them up quickly. Quick! Nobody saw that! Other times, I can’t get to them before my little people hand them to me. Then nights like tonight, I just plop myself down on the ground. I take a break from all of the juggling because I’m tired. And sad. It feels like one of them nailed me smack dab on my face, right on that sensitive part of my nose. Ouch.
Shhh. Be very quiet.
There is a hidden great grandma introvert rocking away inside of me. There are times when my extroverted self needs a break. I need to retreat to a serene, distraction-free place. All by myself. It doesn’t matter the place. A bathroom floor or a secluded overly full closet will do. I just want to curl up like a baby or a tired long-legged child. I don’t want to answer any questions. I don’t want to be touched. I don’t want to worry about the present or the future. I need to release a swarm of tears. Alone. I don’t want anyone to worry about me because I will be okay. I really will.
I will get up off of the clean rug. I will say goodnight to my big boys and cuddle my six and a half year old baby boy. I will wake up to a new day full of life, hope and endless possibilities. I know that the same three energetic boys who hugged me as tight as they possibly could when they said “goodnight” will wake me, tickle me, wrestle me and laugh me out of bed when the sun rises again.
Tonight, I told myself that it’s okay to be sad, grieving the past and overwhelmed at the future from time to time. Here you go self, sadness permission granted. I think I do a pretty damn good job of being genuinely happy and grateful most of the days. Some moments or days are just harder for whatever reason. However big or small.
I’m not giving up, just taking a moment to recover. I try my hardest to cherish most of the days, even the challenging ones. I typically push myself to find the good. The sparks of light or the gigantic sunset in front of my face. I try to recognize and embrace the fleeting moments.
But there are some moments that come at me like a fall off the monkey bars. They knock the breath out of me. They arrive quickly and unexpectedly. Wind escapes and it’s just so hard to breathe. I try not to panic, or overreact, so I can just get through them. Wait. Don’t try to breathe yet. Oh, dear Lord, see me, hear me and help me. All the time but especially during these hard overwhelming moments. And help others like me.
Breathe in, and breathe out.
There. I did it.
I step out of the bathroom and think,
“Goodnight, tonight. Welcome, tomorrow. It will be so nice to see you.”
“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.”
I’m not going to go all Celine Dion song on you. I’m just going to say a few things about our “lucky number thirteen.” Wait. What! Thirteen years of marriage.
On the night of our wedding, you helped me get out of my beautiful dress and then you waited patiently for me and helped me as I handled the first of countless unpredictable effects of my chronic disease on our marriage. That’s what you have always done in the most loving and compassionate ways. You wait with me. You wait for me. You wait on me.
You willingly help me conquer some of my rational and irrational fears. Or you sometimes fight the tiny battles for me. You always do the weird gross things like reaching your hand down the garbage disposal when a super hero or spoon is stuck. Or some other strange object has journeyed to that fear-inducing land.
And you do other harder things too. You sit with me when I’m sad. You hold me. You hug me in the driveway. You gently help me find my laugh when I’ve misplaced it or purposely put it in a top secret hiding place. Why would I put it in the deep freezer? Weird.
You generously donated to the cause of procreating. And you let me love on, worry about and (over)protect our three most precious gifts in crazy unconditional ways. You create with them. Laugh with them and play with them in face-hurting-from-smiling kind of ways.
I don’t quite understand how you can love me as much as you do and show it in such heart stopping ways. You think I’m beautiful when I’m a giant slobbering mess. Yet, you sometimes forget to tell me when I get all cleaned up. You encourage and support me and think I can damn near do anything. You probably think I can fly. Or you would watch a YouTube video on “how to fly” then show me that I could. Probably with the help of some wings, that you purchase from Amazon prime.
You put up with all my scatterbrained tendencies. The oh, so-many creative projects going on at the same time. You play the piano while I load the dishes and make me cry. Your music frees up the restrained feelings in my soul. Your enthusiasm for explaining a song makes me crave music like chocolate.
Your contagious love for others, even complete strangers, makes me feel closer to Jesus.
You urge me to keep writing. You give me the gift of time, always sweetly yet sternly telling me how much my voice matters.
After thirteen years, you still may not understand certain ways about me like why I would need to make the hummingbirds their dinner before our own but you don’t put up a fight about it.
Sorry for all of the sweaters I have shrunk over the years. Sorry for all of the smoke alarm dinners I’ve burned. Thanks for always making me laugh. Thanks for all of the kitchen hugs. Thanks for the ways that you father our boys. Thanks for petting Gizmo. Thanks for loving on those around you in inspiring and contagious ways. Thanks for thirteen years of pure awesome chaos.
You’re my favorite.
I believe if everybody had this kind of love, the world would be different. Better. A million times better.
His passion and genuine love for people wherever he goes is inspiring. And humbling. His generosity and willingness to always include others, no matter what the circumstances are, baffles me. To know him or to have met him is to have been excitedly told, “We gotta have you over for dinner.” And he truly means it. We have a constantly growing list of future dinner guests.
His energy and enthusiasm for life rivals that of the three young boys who call him, “Daddy!” as they greet him at the door or happily pile on top of him. His sense of humor and eagerness to laugh makes life more bearable a lot of days. His creativity is limitless, whether he’s in the kitchen, in the studio, or in the backyard. If you’ve ever heard him sing, you’ve experienced the pure beauty and power in his voice. He makes you want to sing too.
He never does anything without investing his whole heart into it. Like how hard he tries to beat me in basketball. It hasn’t happened yet. Although his mad skills on the tennis court repeatedly frustrate me. And silence me.
He has a knack for noticing people who are hurting. He recognizes their eyes or other subtleties. He helps people feel valued in unique small hidden ways and life altering ways. Whether you’re a complete stranger or a close friend, he will go to great lengths to show you that you matter. That you really matter. And because of his passion for others, he readily loves in a way that can sometimes lead people to use him, hurt him, and not appreciate him. But that doesn’t stop him. And it never will. He forgives others in a way that sometimes, quite frankly, pisses me off because I’m a little protective of him. Except when he’s forgiving me, which he does often, thankfully.
To know him and love him is to hold and joyfully unwrap an intangible gift of the greatest kind. It is to somehow grasp and hold a glimpse of God’s all-encompassing, inclusive, forgiving love, beauty and sacrifice. All in a gentle, humble hat-wearing, constantly moving, singing, beer drinking, genuinely caring human form. To walk away from him is to feel a rare sense. To be pulled away like a magnet. It’s the sense of feeling and knowing that you’ve just been with one of the best people this world has to offer. And you want to be near him again.
Today, October 11, it’s his birthday. He was so excited to get here thirty-eight years ago that he scared the heck out of his parents and arrived several months early. Only a few pounds big. He loves telling a good story. So, I assume that’s why he just couldn’t wait until his due date, you know to be a full term big baby. If you know him, you should take a minute and tell him something meaningful today. Or some day soon. Maybe why you’re happy he was born today or how he has impacted your life for the better. It’s the best gift you could give him. That is, unless you have a four pack of Tank 7 with his name on it. Or you could always bring it when we have you over for dinner. Which will be very soon.