Monday, September 15, 2014

on filling the time capsule

I’ve missed a lot of words in the past few months.  Life has been full, spilling over with all the everyday things of growing a family.  It’s a strange awareness, this juxtaposition of bliss and exhaustion “threat level midnight.” It’s this satisfying feeling of squeezing out every last drop a day can hold, every last lingering bit of energy, thought, and motion that a person can muster.  And then celebrating it all with the act of collapsing into rest (as interrupted as it is), only to wake up and repeat. 
This is my time capsule of these first, fleeting days as a family of five.
I’d tell you about seven years of marriage. There was a simple breakfast date of coffee and pastries on the couch, during the hour before the older kids woke up and after the nocturnal one returned to sleep. Steal the moments wherever you find them, I say. We try. But when I think of seven years, I’ll remember the following scene. Baby girl was hardly two weeks old.  Matt had returned to work. My body felt like it had been cut open (it had) with every movement.  Tired was the new black. Three kids depended on me. Basically, it was survival until he would get home and one day, we all climbed into my bed.  The baby slept on my chest.  The older two obsessed with her every breath gathered around me and when he walked in, tears filled my eyes. Unkempt, surrounded by children, I asked for a cold cloth for my neck.  Minutes passed.  I wondered how hard it could be to find a washcloth?   Soon, he stood in the doorway, holding a pair of his underwear, drenched in the coldest water August could muster.  He shrugged in defeat,  It’s all I could find, but they’re clean.  All the towels were dirty.  Laundry never had a chance in our current state of triage.

I looked at him for a good minute and burst into laughter-- the serious,  body-shaking, tears streaming down my face kind.  The baby on my chest didn’t wake.  The kids giggled in confusion.  And in the moments that followed, as he made dinner and started a load of laundry, I thought, this, right here is seven years of marriage, a deep, honest kind of love. Real. Exposed. Desperate. Sacrificial.  A give all you have kind of love, even when it’s only a clean pair of underwear to cool an aching body.

Maybe next year, there will be a slow, romantic dinner, perhaps a getaway? But, this kind of thing, it’s the substance of our days. It’s the bulk of our story.  It’s real life, messy, crazy, and oh so, beautiful.
and on the subject of life with three kids, I’d add this.
I’m in the laundry room. My son had grabbed a dinosaur pajama top and was trying to wear it as pants.  It was inside out and in frustration, he kept saying, where did the dinosaurs go?  His sister needed her grey tutu, because you can’t twirl without one, silly. MOM,(in her most serious way of saying mom) where is my tutu? The baby started crying. My husband was cleaning the kitchen, which is one of my love languages.  I’m standing there half dressed in my own pajamas.  A missing tutu. Disappearing dinosaurs. Crying baby.   Everyone needs me. I don’t move.  We catch each other’s eyes and shrug. Let’s run away,  I don’t say it out loud, because it wouldn’t be heard over the noise, but I think our eyes understood.  And then, action.  It’s in the laundry basket.  Those aren’t pants! Pick up baby.

These days are basically an ebb and flow of thinking either what have we done or we’re living the dream.  Sometimes it’s damage control. Sometimes it’s magic.
Like this next story. 
on homeschool and fostering an environment of learning.
I walked into the kitchen where he was pointing to a word on the wall, that he recognized from his reading lessons.  I walked into the kitchen and there he was, mama, this is the word IS

And when he said, let’s see if there are any other words I know.

And when I peeked in during naptime, to find her tracing the letters on her library books with her fingers.
and of course, our sweet baby girl
The way her little smile catches us off guard and freezes everything.  The way she has irreversibly changed four lives in only six weeks.  The way she showed up and made all of this feel so real and complete, like we’re all here, doing this crazy life together.

and now, coffee, rock a baby, and built a promised fort.

Monday, August 18, 2014

on what’s in a name

The first time we said it aloud together, I think we knew, but we let it linger in the air for a while, Clementine Monet. 

Clementine means merciful and gentle, and so far, it’s true.  Monet, of course, is after my favorite artist, the French Impressionist Claude Monet.  Impressionism is a celebration of color and light, a way of seeing and translating the world through a different lens.  At this point, it would be easy for me to go into a lengthy discourse of how that is not unlike the way we live and create, today, I won’t.

And then one day, I read the following excerpt. 

Van Gogh once wrote, “ If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you can not paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  

You can replace the word paint with any dream we might pursue.  There will always be conflicting voices within us—those that whisper about the great dreams waiting to be realized and those that scream that we lack the talent or capacity to achieve them.  Part of the that process is deciding which voices will inform us.  I love how Claude Monet, a French impressionist who brought us an entirely new way of seeing reality, literally turned his back on the Louvre to put his focus on nature.  During his early years in Paris, while other paintings of the great who had found their way into this gallery, Money would go to the window and being to paint what we saw outside.  Monet’s internal narrative was deeply rooted in the wonder and beauty of nature.  He brought with his perceptions an astonishing use of color and movement.

Monet was mesmerized by the beauty around him.  His work is the expression of a man drowning in a universe of overwhelming beauty.  He saw the beautiful everywhere.  He once wrote in his journal, “Every day I discover more and more beautiful things.  It is enough to drive one mad.”

While van Gogh’s narrative was a journey of inner turmoil, Monet became a translator of beauty. 

- The Artisan Soul, Erwin McManus

There was no question.  That was her name.

Clementine Monet, may you be a translator of beauty, no matter your passion or interests. Make the world more beautiful. Fill it with hope, truth, and light.  Reflect the light that shatters darkness, the hope that eases pain of this broken world, and the truth that will always remain.  Paint the world with color. Or words. Or thought. Or action. And certainly with love. Whatever medium you discover, tell your story.  See the beautiful everywhere.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

when we were still just four

This. When everything is still, change is peaking just around the corner, but right now is so tangible that it can be seen and heard and felt for all its rich beauty. Moments like dust particles that dance in beams of sunlight, suspended in the air before a window, till they join others becoming indistinguishable.  (We’ll pretend, if you’d like, that your home is dust free.)

Life will forever be different and new and as it should be. And so it is that today, on this Saturday afternoon, I’m watching time and my reality linger.  However it happened that it’s the beginning of August and 70 degrees is a gift I won’t question.  A thick blanket of rain clouds hang over this weekend and no one is suffocating in the summer heat.  Is it all for me, if so I’ll whisper thank you to the heavens. 

This morning I rocked my big girl for the longest time.  She woke up early, sure it was time to pick up Gigi from the airport.  It wasn’t.  She carries anticipation the way I do, it fills her soul, it dances through her being, nearly visible on her skin.  How many ways do I see pieces of myself in her?  These past few days, how many times have I watched, savoring all I can of who she is in these last moments as the youngest.  Three and a half years old, with wild blue eyes that are growing deeper and more thoughtful by the day, like she sees the world in richer colors than the rest.  Her long arms and legs jabbed into my side, squishing the baby who is also squishing me.  Her silly grey tee-shirt, a smelly security ‘blanket’ is safely in her hand; we rock, in celebration of this part.  The part that comes before the next.  She tries to understand time and how many hours and how many more days, but it’s too much for her little self and how can we really grasp life-changing time in increments?

I’m not often weepy about sentimental things and even now, I just breathe it, feeling the suspension of all we know mixed with what lies ahead.  It’s strangely enchanting, like the first few notes of your favorite song.

And later, my boy, a few months shy of age six, sits close by my side as we watch The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  We spent the last few weeks reading segments at bedtime and finished last night.  He’s naturally a sensor and found many parts too intense for his little spirit, so we turned it off and talked about Mario, airports, and video game things.  Naturally, I’ve heard more than I’ve ever cared to hear about video game things, but he’s quite knowledgeable on the subject (thanks to his daddy) and I just listen, because seeing this person he’s becoming is a treasure.

Pretty soon, another creature will join our little tribe.  This family we are growing, it’s our story unfolding.  It’s the beginning of theirs.  It’s all the best and hardest and most beautiful things.

But this is today, as we know it, when we were still just four.

Lingering particles of dust suspended in the light.