The Confusion

Two days ago, I held my 9 year old’s hand and took a stroll down the dirt farm road behind our house. She bounced next to me, pointing at clouds and asking the kinds of questions kids always ask at some point, “What would it be like to ride on a cloud?… What if the cloud was shaped into a perfect seat, just for me?”

The afternoon was winding down into evening, and I was weary. I can’t tell you how many pictures I’ve taken, how many stories to write alongside them, only to find that I’m too weary to write. That’s a sad thing to have happen to me. My health is what it is, and I’m trying to find my new normal. Some days I feel like maybe I won’t have to, that I feel almost normal and I can ignore all the rest of the other days, but I inevitably wake up sick the next day and I quickly remember: denial is such a heartless tease.

Walking that road, my heart was weary. My bones were weary. I took in deep breaths of fresh air… and I listened to Lacy. Trenton rode his bike in front of us -no training wheels! And Alice jogged ahead, behind, around, wherever the wind took her. With the colors turning golden and warm around us, I was struck with the kind of confusing fear known so well to mothers.

I worry all at once that they will grow up… I worry that someday soon, no one will be holding my hand and chatting about clouds, no bike will ride in front of me, and no 3 year old will proudly present me with dandelion flowers as if they were the rarest blooms on Planet Earth.
And I worry that they never will grow up… That there will never be a day where my kitchen doesn’t look like a hurricane hit a hoarder’s house, that I won’t sleep lightly every night, popping up at every sound and wondering what it is (puke? coughing? seizure? death?), that I won’t spend 75% of my mind on cooking (what to cook? When to cook? and then? cooking and cleaning it up so I can move onto: what to cook? When to cook?…)

The days are so long.
The years are so short.

It makes no sense at all, and I make no sense to myself.
There’s only one thing to do in all of it: get present with where I actually am so I don’t miss a good moment or blow a bad one out of proportion, pass on the fear, confusion and any hurt or pain to God and then find gratitude.

Sometimes really allowing myself to feel the sheer joy that comes with parenting is just as scary as allowing myself to feel pain. Staying distracted and numbed out on business can be much easier.

At the end of the dirt farm road is a little ditch. Every few weeks, it fills and flows with irrigation water, and the sparkling wet water is always too great a temptation to pass up.
As a mother, there’s a lot of things I’m not. But as a mother, there’s a lot of things I am, and one of those things is spontaneous and free-spirited.

We kicked off our shoes.  It was a tame little thing to do, really.








Things escalated pretty quickly, though.  Tame didn’t last long.  Shirts landed on top of shoes, mud landed on top of pants.  It was a mud bath, complete with squeals and teasing.20160413_173642



The funny thing about cold evening swims is that it is SO EASY to forget about the end.  The shivering, the feeling of cracked on mud in every possible place it could be…  Its like planning a trip to Disneyland, vaguely remembering that feet sometimes hurt at the end of the day.  But by 5 pm on that first day, you’re near tears.  The joy of the day is a bit spoiled, and as you sit to ride the train around the park and munch on a churro, you remind yourself:

You won’t remember the pain, not really.  You’ll remember the memories, the laughs, the rides, the joy in the faces of the people riding the train next to you.  It’s all very true.  The kids won’t remember the cold shivers well enough to keep them out of a sparkling stream on a gorgeous springtime evening.  Be that as it may, I had to snap a picture of the YUCK anyway.

“Mom!  I COLD!”

Also, Lacy somehow ended up with Trent’s shoes.  He really doesn’t pay her enough.


There’s nothing better than blankets and PJs after bathtime AFTER mud-bathing.  Is there?

Maybe having someone to share it with?


We all curled up together to watch, “Singin’ in the Rain.”  The kids love to watch the video clips on youtube of, “Make ‘Em Laugh” and “Moses”, so I finally just bought the whole movie.  They loved it, and I loved curling up with them almost as much as I loved listening to Alice quote the movie.




Alice gets really into movies.  I CAYN’T think where she gets it.20160413_20055220160413_200619

If there’s anyone in our home who isn’t confused about how to feel joy or express sadness or live completely from the heart, whole-heartedly and without reserve, it is Alice Michelle.

Goodnight, little life.  Life of the party, life appreciate-er, life giver.  May you grow up slowly.  But quickly too.

This is Marriage

Sometimes I go to blog and I stop myself. I think, ‘My blog is like The Written version of The Three Stooges. Same plot line, same jokes…’ but you know what? I can’t stop streaming those episodes on youtube. There’s something comforting in the consistency of corniness, the solidarity of slapstick! Also, Trent laughs so hard he snorts and that is worth ALL THEE REPLAY IN THEE WHOLE WORLD.

Yesterday went much like my days go lately. I have a three year old daughter who is going to grow up and argue America into whatever she wants it to be, so I have to be ON POINT at all times. If I falter, the entire neighborhood feels it.
But I did okay.  I kept it mostly together because I’m learning what to let go of.  which is everything.

Here’s a sample:

I cleaned up a styro-foam plate covered in layers: potting soil, balloons, water, orange juice.

I also threw away a few layers of papers underneath that were soaked. That’s the kind of stuff that goes down while I do selfish things like wash some dishes.

I did my best with yesterday… I took a walk with the dog, watched some Dr. Quinn with Lacy, ate gluten free brownies right out of the pan.
I also bathed Alice which is no small feat because it entails being scratched and screamed at and yes -even threatened, “YOU NEED TO GO BACK TO LIVE WITH HEAVENLY FATHER!” I also held fast while she clocked me after waking up from her nap. Clocking me is her new favorite thing. She shocks even herself with her aggression and always manages to burst into tears and apologize.
We hold boundaries. There’s consequences. But like I said: I have to be on full and entire and top point. at. all. times.
Danny comes home and says the same thing everyday, “Hello, darlin. Nice to see ya. Has she been like this all day?

There was so much chaos between wake up to goodnight that about 30 minutes before goodnight, my thread snapped. Usually the kids aren’t awake 30 minutes before goodnight, but last night they were.
And while I sat on my couch like normal people do on Friday nights, Alice broke up a Little Debbie Brownie and handed me crumbs while quoting Despicable Me, “My caterpillar never turned into a butterfly…”
Before I could find a suitable place for the crumbs, Alice brought me the dish-drying towel from the kitchen. Wet…Soaked… In toilet water.

I had been asking Danny for help only to find that he had fallen asleep. I felt abandoned and desperate, so I skipped our nightly scriptures and prayer so I could hide under my bed covers. I yelled the kids into bed, apologizing as quickly as I could, only to find myself yelling again.
I will pay for your first 10 years of therapy.

Under my covers, I took a deep breath. I reminded myself that falling apart is a normal part of living. I reminded myself that I could make amends in the morning. I reminded myself that stress literally kills and then I put my headphones in because I have this really great mediation app and it has several really great guided meditations that put me to sleep when my shoulders feel like granite and my mind resembles one of those streets mom told me not to go down alone at night.

Dear Lord, I prayed, I love you and I love my life.  I’ll try again tomorrow. Amen.

This is not the first or last time prayers have gone down under my covers.

I started my meditation, and the soft, soothing voice told me nothing else mattered but the present moment. She said it so many times that I decided it must be true. Danny came in the room and asked me something… I don’t remember what. I just snapped that I needed to go to sleep. I needed sleep.
That was all that mattered.
Sleeping in the present moment.

Before I knew it, I was out. Not for long.

Because minutes later -before my meditation even had to chance to end -I had diluted mint essential oil in my eye.
Danny was next to me, Mormon-cursing in the darkness. I was clutching my stinging eye. I ripped my headphones out and tried to figure out what fresh hell had descended.
“Sorry! Sorry!” Danny said, “I was trying to turn on your oil diffuser to help you sleep, I’m sorry.”
It was so sweet, but I couldn’t feel it… It is hard to feel complimented when your eye is burning. I rolled over onto my side, my head landing on a big cold, wet spot.
“Danny. It is wet.”
I wasn’t lucid. I wasn’t in my right mind. He tried to find out where it was wet, how wet… I finally muttered, “just feel…”
Danny hopped up and covered up the wet spot with a towel, and I finally turned the diffuser off because the blend Danny had to thoughtfully made was making me sick.

Boy was I glad to see that day end.

This morning, I woke up when Danny placed something in my arms.

“You seem like you could use those,” he said. He walked out and went straight to the kitchen where I heard the blessed sound of eggs being beaten and bacon frying.

Did you know we live 30 minutes away from Wal-Mart? That meant he got up at 6 am.

Danny had been distant and disconnected on Saturday, and I’d felt alone… even when he was home. When he’d come home from work, I’d tried to grab a hug from him and I got it, but it was the kind of hug a needy girlfriend gives a disinterested boyfriend.
What is wrong? I thought.

By the end of the day, I was mixed up and exhausted and saying things like, “We don’t put towels in the toilet!”
And the end result was that I wasn’t nice when Danny was nice. Just like he wasn’t nice when I was nice.

What kind of wife snaps at a husband who is trying to be thoughtful?
What kind of husband resists a wife who is trying to be thoughtful?
Well, normal ones. Now and then, anyway.

A few minutes later, Danny brought me a plate of gluten free french toast with a pretty piece of bacon on the side and cup filled with my favorite kind of orange juice. This afternoon, we spent some time in the sunshine with our kids. He washed the dog and I raked up sticks.
The dog will need to be washed again in a few weeks.
There will be piles of sticks on the grass again in a few weeks.

But in that moment, the push and pull, the see-saw effect had slowed and the sun was shining. Trent was whittling, Lacy was riding her bike, and Alice tried to take her baby for a walk.
“Alice, come back!”
“Oh, I will. I will come back LATER.”

Life doesn’t get better than those moments, not really. They are the serene moments all other moments are measured against. When we work together for the good of the family, I feel peaceful and hopeful.

And now I’ve got to log off because Danny just spent 15 minutes looking for a remote that I was sitting on. And I owe him a glass of orange juice.