Last spring, we were in Duluth, Minnesota for a hockey tournament. A family of five all crammed into one hotel room. One very happy child because he is getting to play the game he loves, one moderately happy because he gets to watch the game he loves, and one not so happy child though the hotel’s indoor water park does help assuage his annoyance at being dragged along. All was going well that particular weekend. The team was playing well. We were having fun with the new hockey families, sharing stories over patio lunches and while waiting for the games to begin.
I was going to write about the time our car was broken into in Duluth. Though really they didn’t break in so much as open the unlocked door and then take everything out of the glove boxes, backpacks, etc., looking for anything of value. When we got in the car the next morning, at first I thought the kids had just made a mess looking for something. It took my mind a minute to process that someone had been in our car, going through all of our stuff, and then just dropping the unwanted junk (most of it). Thankfully we had most of our valuables with us. I think they took a couple of gas gift cards and an old, old iPhone that was being used by the kids as an iPod for games.
That was the story I was going to tell, before my twelve year old walked in needing me. At first he just wanted my laptop, then he needed my help figuring out a forgotten password, and that led me down the rabbit hole that included calling my husband since he originally set up the account. Not reaching him we started a new account with my son’s email address but when we went to check for the registration email, discovered that his email was not set up on the new to him smart phone that we have given him to use. Not that he wanted a phone. He isn’t really interested in texting with his friends or going on social media. He’s weird like that.
So while this blog started as story of stolen things, it quickly turned into a moment stolen. Focus lost. Distraction making me want to close up this file and move on to solving my son’s problem. And it won’t be the only problem today. It is summer which means it will be difficult to maintain focus. But it will also be a time of those stolen moments that make summer wonderful. Evenings spent at the ball park watching the kids play baseball with the farm fields behind them. Afternoons engrossed in a good book, getting lost in a far away world. Trips to the ice cream shop and bike rides that always end with a treat.
I want to enjoy those stolen moments.
I want to laugh more this summer. Laugh about the time our car was trashed in Duluth and about my twelve year old being the only kid in America that has to be forced into having his own phone. Laugh at the adorable antics of third grade boys trying to imitate their favorite MLB player and at our attempts at learning to cook this summer.
So much of our lives are focused. Structured and goal oriented.
Summer is for the stolen moments.
Summer is for laughing. And breathing.
It can be disconcerting. My eleven year old said it best a few hours after school was out for the summer, "Now that school is over it doesn't feel like I have a purpose."
Eleven is a little early for an existential crisis. And for forgetting that your purpose is not only what you do. But who you are in the stolen moments.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
I have made mistakes.
I have hurt you.
I have been angry, misguided, selfish.
I stayed up too late and woke up grumpy and tired. I lost my patience because of this. I didn’t manage my stress well, letting it build up. I got angry too quickly. Resorted to yelling and punishing when a few extras moments of talking with you was the better choice. I was tired, overwhelmed which is understandable when you have three small boys that keep growing and changing. But I knew the right healthy choices to make to help me be in the best physical, emotional, and spiritual state of mind and yet did the opposite.
I listened to the wrong people. I didn’t trust my instincts or you. I forgot that I know you, that I am your advocate, your last line of defense. I listened to the voices of disapproval and trying to be the mom I thought I was supposed to be instead of being the mom God made me to be to the children He gave me. I tried to help you become who I thought you should be, even when I knew I had no clue what the best for you really was.
Too often, I just wanted you to be quiet and leave me alone. I wanted to read my book in peace, watch my tv show, or talk with a friend on the phone without interruption. Oh how I hated it when you interrupted “my time”. I wanted to go out to restaurants and on trips like I did before I had kids. I wanted to do what I wanted even as I was tasked with taking care of you.
And there are so many more things I am sure you can tell your friends or therapist about where I failed you. Because I did. I messed up, sometimes unintentionally, sometimes knowing full well the choice I was making.
But here’s the thing I hope you remember too…
I love you fiercely.
I want the absolute best for you, each of you as individuals apart from me and our family. I want your best whatever that is.
I am sorry.
I wish I never hurt you. I wish I made the right choices in all those places of my life that affected you.
I pray that God is bigger than my sin, than my mistakes, than my parenting. And I know that He is. I know that He loves you so much more than I ever could, which is hard to fathom - since my love is to infinity plus 1. But He does.
And I pray that you can see past your disappointments in me as you become an adult and even possibly a parent yourself and let them be the funny stories you tell each other about that time mom….
I love you!
Monday, June 8, 2015
It has been a tough year. One where I felt not whole a lot of the time. Or more like I had been taken captive by something, a darkness, a sense of foreboding mixed with apathy. I’m not really sure. But I felt like I had been kidnapped, forced to live my life but not really as myself.
I kept waiting for a ransom note. One that told me the clue to getting my life back. The one with the cut out letters and clear directions that told me exactly what to do to get me back.
But the note never came.
Instead, I have spent the last year, slowly finding my way out of the darkness. One decision, one step, one new adventure at a time. I made the appointment I needed to make. I finished the work I needed to do. I started a new job which brought all new levels of fulfillment and exhaustion. I rediscovered old loves and I stepped into unknown worlds. I started to feel more and more like myself.
Except I stopped writing. I decided it was too hard. It wasn’t really what I was meant to do. I convinced myself that no one needed to read my words. It was just a hobby that I had gotten tired of, like scrapbooking and mosaic tiling. And so I let it go.
But I wonder if maybe that ransom note never came because I did not write it. Maybe if I had, I would have realized that writing is part of who I am. It makes me feel whole.
This weekend I was driving to Iowa to meet a friend for a girls’ weekend. The same friend that met me in my darkest place last fall. It was a long drive so I was listening to the This Creative Life Podcast to pass the time. Not because I considered myself a creative any longer, but because it was still on my phone and I still like to hear what my favorite authors have to share about the writing process. But as they were talking about their insecurities as writers, as they talked about the ten years it took to finally get it right, when they mentioned the 10,000 hours it takes to get good at anything that Malcolm Gladwell writes about in Outliers: The Story of Success, and as they reminded each other they write because the writing itself is satisfying and makes them who they are, something inside me shifted.
This may be the last piece that has been held captive by me. Writing is scary and discouraging and exhilarating and gratifying.
I still struggle with the fact that I am not sure if there is any value to my writing. I wonder if I have anything worth saying and I worry that I am just adding noise to an already crowded world. But I also know that if it is going to take 10,000 hours, I have a lot of hours and blog posts and scenes and chapters left to write before I can really decide if I am any good at it. At least in a professional sense. For now, I can remember that sitting down and writing words that appear on my computer screen makes me happy. And that is enough.
Not everything we do has to have an outcome. In our project based, outcome driven world, it seems that even our hobbies have to be monetized. But as my boys remind me daily, there is joy in the doing. The doing of that thing that you were meant to do, whether that is playing hockey, learning to pitch, practicing guitar, building Minecraft worlds, or writing stories.