About Me

 

 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott

 

I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

Motherhood is not a biological designation
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Saturday
Dec152012

A letter to my parents who live 1,676 miles away

Dear mom and dad,

I want to write and thank you so much for your visit this past week.
Thank you for your generosity.
Thank you Dad for taking me on an Ace Hardware shopping spree, for investing in new kitchen sconces that don't show the lightbulbs, and a bird feeder that sticks onto my kitchen window so the squirrels won't be able to steal the birdseed anymore. Thank you for buying me kitchen soap that actually cleans, and picture wire to hang a piece of art that has been languishing in the back of my closet. These are the kinds of projects I am never able to do until my Dad comes along with vision, a little hands-on labor, and some money. :)
Thank you for taking us out for Mexican food.
Thank you for buying groceries and not itemizing the receipts into ours and yours.

Thank you for taking the boys to the Museum of Discovery and then buying us a membership there so I have a place to let the kids get their jiggies out on snowy days. 
Thank you for the specificity of your Christmas gifts. For giving the boys the Star Wars squinkies, even though it's not the most educational of gifts, and thank you for buying educational gifts too.
For me, the beauty in your generosity is not the gifts themselves, as much as it is the sense I have of being taken care of.

It is a special thing to be 32 and to still feel like my parents are whole enough people that they can take care of me.
I have many friends who have long since stopped counting on their parents for anything.
So I thank you both for doing the hard work to stay married, to pursue each other, to pursue Jesus, to become your best selves..it is a gift to your children, because it enables us to continue to trust you and know we can count on you, that we aren't trying to make it alone in this world.  
It's a mental anchor in a shifting world, and a safe place I can always return to.
My therapist, Dr. Kate, says that ideally, parents are like the wall of the pool.  

The wall is an ever-present constant; it provides the security needed for children to push out on their own, swimming into deeper and deeper water, all the while knowing, should they need it, the wall is there to return to.
The wall is sturdy and reliable for catching their breath, for holding on and getting their heads above water, for getting their bearings before pushing out again.
Dr. Kate says the most difficult thing for children in the process of self-actualizing is to have an unreliable wall.
That it's actually easier to have no wall at all, to stop counting on one altogether, then to have a wall that undulates: sometimes strong, sometimes weak- like trying to push off a wall made of gack, or silly putty.

You both were a wall I could count on. 

I know that in the process of pushing off, there has been miscommunication, mutual wounding, failures and lacks.
I know this because I know my family is made up of human beings.
And us human beings are messy creatures, made of dust and ash.
But blown full of God's breath.
And as you all in humility use your God breath to say you are sorry for ways you failed me or fell short as a parent, you give me the freedom and safety to use my God breath to say I forgive you, and to tell you I am sorry too for all the ways I hurt you or fell short as a daughter.
And the wound, no matter how deep, once it is spoken, acknowledged, and validated, dissipates with the very breath it came out on.

I believe this is what God means when he says if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another.
Risking the honesty of admitting mistakes means we can have intimacy with each other.
It also frees me to love my children better because I find that every time you are honest with me and draw near to me in intimacy, some of my fear of messing up my children dissipates.
I remember that it is inevitable that I will hurt my babes, that they will probably confess all my faults to a counselor someday, that they will need some good therapy and healing and forgiveness.
My kids will have the consequences of my falling short, of my messy humanity.
But if I can be honest about it, love will cover over a multitude of sins.
And as long as they can come to me with their pain, I've done something right.

I've managed, by God's grace, to be a sturdy wall.
So I am saying thank you, for helping me to learn these things through your own example and hard work, especially because you both did not have sturdy walls growing up. You have altered generations worth of unsteady building, and I think it is no accident that you Dad, are a stone mason, and you Mom, are an artist.
I know we have many things to walk through yet, but this visit especially gave me hope for what the Master Builder is constructing out of all of our lives. I feel a sense of His divine purpose in the sometimes painstaking process of deconstructing before we build anew.
Mom, I know you said the house fire has been an apt metaphor for this whole process- that the house may have burnt down, but the beams still stood: because they were double-strong, built a century ago out of wood so thick it self-extinguished.
Sometimes, the burn has to happen before the beams can be revealed.

I just returned from dropping you off at the airport, and I wanted to get this all out while the sadness of your leaving is still very present, just so you know how much you do mean to me.  
The  house seems very quiet.
I am sad not to hear Dad's incessant whistling (beautiful whistling, I might add, truly extraordinary).
I am sad that Mom won't be puttering around (like Nana), fiddling with little projects like glueing the heads back on broken angel ornaments.
I am sad you can't tuck the children in, and that the soup you made sits on the stove, but you are not here to eat it.
I am sad that we won't have a puppet show tonight, with you all hiding behind a blanket draped over a dowel rod and making up voices for puppets and fairies and a three-headed dragon named Andrew Lloyd Weber.
I am sad that I won't have Mom's company tomorrow morning when I get the kids ready for school, and that Pappy can't walk Malachi to his class and Gigi can't put bows in Kyrie's hair.
I did not want to go down in the basement tonight and see Kyrie's dresses that you handwashed hanging to dry.
It's a happy sad because your actions are an expression of your heart, and you both made so many choices to be sacrificial this week in what you did for my family, and I am happy to have those reminders around my home.
Even the fridge looks organized, like you wanted me to be able to plan meals just by opening the door and looking inside.
Thank you for your intentional choices: like writing letters on jar lids so the kids could dump them in the bathtub and go fishing to spell out their names.
Thank you for printing out special pictures of Gabriel to help him pronounce his words better, and to help him feel special because you know he loves photo albums.
Thank you for buying Kerplunk, even though the pieces might get everywhere, because you know the boys like to build thing and watch them crash.
I am happy that you got to see Malachi lose a tooth and Phoenix take his first steps, and that we made more good memories together of the good and simple things in life like watching the Christmas lights while we sat in the dark.
There was a sense of comfort and security in this visit- and I am trying not to take this for granted because like I said before, I don't know very many people my age that feel that with their families.
I also know that this sense of safety comes out of the hard work you are doing Mom with counseling and grief share, and also out of the hard work I am doing in being present with how I am feeling in this season and also trying to do the best job I can at self-care.  
Dad, I don't really know if you are doing a lot of self-care/soul-care work, but you do belong to a great men's group and you read a lot, and you generally seem to have a good compass for life so maybe you are just a lot less messed up than Mom and I.  :)
just kidding. 
you are a mess, just like us.
just kidding on that too. 
but not really. Cause I do think that as we all are more honest with God and with ourselves, we become more honest with each other, and therein lies the sense of safety and comfort and home-ish-ness.
So thank you for all the hard work you are doing.
Thank you for your active presence in your grandchildren's lives. 
We are going to miss you a lot, but will look forward to the next visit, and we will keep a running list of projects to assign you when you come again.
just kidding.
(but not really).
love,
trinity

 

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