While our daughter and I share many attributes, our shared foot width was apparent from her birth. So when she got a pair of shoes in the mail she said, ” oh I love them and they do squeeze a little bit but my feet are too wide so I’ll just have to deal.”
After living through many years of squeezy shoes (and uncomfortable feet), I cringed at the comment and couldn’t help but turn it into a conversation.
“Hey kiddo!” I said, “You don’t need to squeeze into shoes that are too tight. Your feet are just the right size. We just need to find shoes that match your feet.”
“Really?” She replied. “OK, I would like that.”
What if we gave ourselves permission to find the right fit, from shoes and clothes to friends, careers, vacations and religious practice?
At the zoo today one sign after another reminded us to stay on the path. Nobody told us what to look at or how fast to go on the paved route past the wildlife. There were no indications as to when to take a break on the countless benches, simply to stay on the path. It was a true reminder of my journey through healing: Stay on the path; all the other decisions will come in their own time.
My grandmother was a Methodist missionary in Alaska before it was a state. At 84 she was still up for adventure and asked for me to plan one that we could share together. We headed to Costa Rica from my dorm room in college and found ourselves in well loved Catholic church in downtown San Jose. My grandfather had died 10 years before and my heart was raw with my first major break up.
Together we lit little candles with long matches in honor of our loss. I had a deep sense that my grandmother honored my pain in the same way I honored her’s. Love is love. Loss is loss. Bringing light into the world helps.
Some people have hammocks. I don’t usually see people in them. One time I remember seeing our neighbor sitting in his hammock and thinking, “Ha, how odd that someone is actually using their hammock.”.
Three weeks into recovering from a concussion, I’ve been enjoying our hammock for the first time. There’s really not much else I can do. Reading is out of the question. Significant screen time makes my head pound even more. But sitting in the hammock? I can do that. I can watch the trees dance and hear the birds sing. I can see the Cottonwood pollen floating through the air like a soft snow on a summer’s day.
So here’s my advice to you. Don’t wait for a concussion to sit in a Hammock. They really are a wonderful invention, so under appreciated yet an incredible tool for learning how to enjoy the act of being.
I keep going to the physical therapist to get the adhesions broken down holding down the nerves in my leg each time the physical therapist breaks down some of the same adhesions he worked on last time.
As teachers and parents we are also held down in familiar patterns by adhesions. We often know it would be beneficial to approach fractions or bedtime routines in a new way. We succeed in trying something new. It is establishing that new pattern that gets painful.
My body is trying to heal but habits have been formed and starting a new pattern takes time, pain and courage.
Just when I thought I had been doing a pretty good job shedding my ego, another “growth opportunity ” tapped me on the shoulder this morning at 5:55.
Our beloved nine year old was chomping at the bit to make breakfast in bed for Mothers’ Day and she needed some help. Half asleep, I set up the Kitchen Aid that was mandatory for the most complicated waffle recipe known to humanity. “Would you mind starting the eggs?” She asked, as I was about to slink back into bed.
I didn’t have the heart to say “no” or remind her of my co-status as her mother alongside the woman still in bed.
She is just old enough to understand the significance of the day and just young enough to miss the nuance of Mothers’ Day with two moms.
I made enough eggs for both moms and grabbed a few waffles then plunked myself at the bottom of the bed where there was room.
I am not going to lie. There was a pity party in full swing happening in the space above my neck. But as the day progressed, one smile followed by a snuggle, then a hug reminded me that I did not become a mom to stand on a pedestal once a year. I signed up for this co-journey for the sheer privilege of witnessing the daily micro moments, both blissful and well intentioned.
When I was little I wanted little to do with my dad. He was wonderful and kind and knew just the way to do my hair for dance class, but I eagerly anticipated my mom’s return home. He loved me regardless. At the age of thirty, I finally figured out that I could love my dad through projects and road trips. It wasn’t the same kind of snuggly, chatty love I shared with my mom, but equally as profound.
My mind jumped to the thirty year wait ahead before Freya and I would have the relationship I longed for. I tried to model the same beautiful routines and relationship her birth mom Laura had developed, but I always felt as if I were falling short; time with me was the consolation prize.
There were no “how to books”. Tears dripped down my face as I prayed lonely prayers. My saving grace were the afternoons when I was the only parent home, slowly connecting, building trust, charting our own path.
Parenting is humbling, all of it. I set out with visions of idealic strolls through the park, sweet cuddles and cherub like grins. Then I was thrown into the role of non-bio Mom with an infant who only wanted my wife.
Contrary to my fears, Freya and I found our own kind of love while she was still small. It began as soon as I was able to let go of the image in my head of how our relationship “should be” by making huge baking messes in the kitchen and painting together in my studio. While her public admiration is usually reserved for my wife, our late night chats and back scratches are something that Freya and I share with a unique sweetness. Our love is different, but equally profound.
I have learned that sometimes love comes sweeping in, other times it builds to grand heights over time. Regardless of love’s pace, letting go of what a mother/child relationship “should be” in exchange for authentic connections will win every time. Sometimes, it will even result in a batch of cupcakes.