Of Spilled Milk and Modern Warfare

Wednesday's lunch was rough.  Broccoli seemed to be flying everywhere and Milo was repeatedly dropping his blue sippy cup of milk off of the ledge of his high chair table, generously spattering bubbles of sticky fluid on the wood floor that comprises his messy, ever-increasing domain.  A domain I had, not two hours earlier, vacuumed and mopped.  Labor made obsolete in seconds by two tiny hands and a healthy lunch.  


The mess had nothing to do with what made lunch so tragic.   What had actually sent me careening off course was the presence of that devil-headed bane of humans everywhere: 


It set upon me like a guided missile, all of a sudden and seemingly out of nowhere, with a bang.

I rarely cry.  It is something of a point of pride for me, which I’m discovering is 1) prideful, 2) a little barbaric, and 3) more than a little graceless.  Well, while I was attempting to ladle mounds of blueberry yogurt into my son’s yammer, I was completely. losing. it.  

And he thought it was laugh-out-loud hilarious.  Point, Milo.

Backstory: I had booked an appointment at an optometrist.  They had an opening due to a cancellation the next day, and it was -gasp- on the exact day that my hubs was taking off – a miracle!  No need to inconvenience anyone [except my husband, again...]!  Huzzah!  I had been putting off the eye doctor for awhile, which I think was starting to drive Craig nuts, since I was talking about it every other day, and this opening seemed like providence.  

Could I make it?  

YES.  YesYesYes.

It felt like I’d won the lottery.

Until I realized that I didn’t know what day it was.  This took place on Wednesday.  Which I failed to realize.  Or rather, that my appointment was the next day, on Thursday.  Which is not the same as Friday.  Which again, I failed to realize.

Because I stay at home and don’t work and never look at a calendar because I don’t work and stay at home and have no purpose and can’t even keep a floor clean or remember that it’s Wednesday.

Ugh.  That’s when it got ugly.  I won’t go into the depths of it, because no one wants to experience that twice, but the bottom line is that I was feeling like a total and utter flop.   

Something I’m learning as I stay home with Milo is that the voices I have allowed to survive in my head are, in part, incredibly unkind.  We are always cultivating our minds, by what we plant and prune and water, and I have allowed a split crop of self-pity and nasty self talk to take root.  I don’t think I am alone.  You might be a dad or mom at home, like me, or perhaps you are working full time, or are single, or unemployed, or retired, or married, or divorced, or widowed, or like grape soda or run a circus, or run a circus while drinking grape soda – which, I don’t know, sounds sort of great.  Regardless of your circumstance and role, I have a sinking feeling that you also beat yourself up every now and again.  

Or again and again.

Today I remind myself, and perhaps, you, that what I need more than a clean floor or a full schedule is a serious helping of grace, accompanied by a wake-up-you-crazy-person slap across the jaw.  

The world is full of ammunition.  Full of smooth stones named comparison and pride and lies.  

And as we walk among this weaponry, some of us choose to throw these stones at the people around us.  Others carry them in our arms until the burden is so heavy that we can’t walk.  

Good glory, child.  Put. down. the. weapons. *Smack*

Newsflash:  We will never be enough.  Not for this broken world.  
Never busy enough, or put-together enough. 
Not witty enough or perceptive enough.  
Never attentive enough or organized enough. 
Not rich enough or selfless enough.  
Never fit enough or well-read enough or relaxed enough or patient enough or exceptional enough.

So quit playing by the wrong rules.  Cry when you need to cry.  Scream sometimes.  The world does not need another person who is too crippled by fear and self-loathing to function.  It needs you.  It needs me.  It needs the character that you have and your smile, and my hands and my voice.  It needs your love and your listening ears and my laugh and my feet.  It needs us to clean up the rubble so that the next person can walk in the clear.

Handlettering work by the amazing Jessa B..

I will need to wake each and every morning and remind myself that this is still true: today, tomorrow, and the 20,000 days after that.  But it is necessary for me, and it is necessary for you.  

Because that broccoli is coming, baby, and we'd better be ready.


Eazy E

This morning, I sat on my sofa, watching Milo (finally using a real name here.  'bout time.) cram wooden puzzle pieces and dvd cases into his yap with speed and fervor usually reserved for chasing the cat.  He is a storm of joy and giggles and terrifying diaper changes, a tiny critter that embodies a profound truth:  that even the dirt beneath our feet is worth squishing through our fingers and scarfing down when no one is looking.

That's life:  squish, squish, squish.

Eat it up.

I was writing a handful of letters while on the sofa, something I used to be much better at (the letters, not the lounging, though I used to be better at that, I'd guess), but is still something I love to do.  It helps me keep the far people near, and selfishly, floods the little corners of my soul with sweet things.

This time, I was writing Elaine.  Also a real person.  It's time to be real on the blog.

Elaine is one of my particular favorites in this life.  She is a fierce athlete, loves great coffee (and makes a mean cup),  has fabulous puppy-training skills, is half of a killer side-of-the-river dutch oven cooking team, and far beyond any of her talents or outer qualities, is a beautiful rock of honesty for me.

That last one is where we are going.

This is her letter.  She will still get it, but it rang so true in my heart this morning that I wanted to share the meat of it, because this is a paramount struggle for me: to tell the truth.  Lest you think I am crazy and a compulsive liar, allow me to clarify.  It is one thing to respond honestly when you are asked a question.  Most people have cultivated this ability by age twelve, and are scattered somewhere on the spectrum of none-of-your-business to painfully blunt.  It is entirely another thing to seek the truth and endeavor to live it: what is truthful to your experience and what is the truth that you believe,  and to do this while keeping that path from upturning the lives of the people around you like mole tunnels in the yard.  A dogged battle.

I'm sure this will be a little embarrassing for her, but chillax, Elaine.  It's for the greater good.

When I feel discouraged, or riled up and I'm not sure what to do with my emotions, I think to myself, 'Elaine would totally get this', and it pulls me forward like some invisible string of steel and sunshine.  Your honesty is a bastion for me, to remind me that lying is indeed bad, just like they've always said, but also the truth often feels (and looks) worse, albeit temporarily.  The truth always wins, and is always good, not because it is kind, or necessarily healthy, but because it is by its nature raw and elemental and right.  And this is where we start, and we do not need to be afraid, because though it feels like the end, it is - mercifully - just the beginning of something new.  

This is my reminder:

Do not be afraid.

It is only a beginning.  




Today's blog soundtrack: Josh Garrels' new album, Home.  Get it:  iTunes   Free Download   CD

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