Every goodnight kiss is a gift.

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When you’re a new mother, it feels like they’ll be little forever.
You study their every part. You learn their every mood. You breathe more deeply in their presence.

But then life changes, and you settle into routines. And you begin to understand the difficulty that comes with children growing – evolving into better humans.

And, at some point, you may return to work.

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Why Mothers Hold On

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Our family recently moved…twice. And somewhere in between the boxes and whispered curse words, I caught a glimpse of nearly three years of loving sacrifice.

Nursing bras.

My husband had carefully stacked my drawers beside the dresser, and in that moment I felt exposed.

What am I still holding on?

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When You Can’t Push

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I’m a bit of an agenda pusher. In college, for example, I saw marriage as my opportunity to no longer be scared in bed each night. For whatever reason, I feared the darkness.

That is, until I read a magazine article with the perfect antidote. It told me to call out one word three times: Jesus. It worked.

My husband and I will celebrate eight years of marriage this summer, and I must confess that when he travels, I still chase the invisible monsters away with a single name.

What’s harder, however, is quieting the other demons that persist in adulthood. The anxiety. The doubts. The dread of not knowing the future.

Quite simply, the walls we can’t easily push through.

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Love: Where Fries Overcome Fear

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When life hands you a free milkshake, you say “yes”. But, the truth is, the last thing I wanted was more food.

For several moments, a scene had been eating away at my thoughts. A homeless man – not more than 30 years of age – waited on a curb of desperation outside of our local Walmart as we drove past. To help or not to help? The restless toddlers in the backseat only encouraged the excuses my mind so effortlessly generated.

No. Not tonight.

So we stayed the course to Chick-fil-A. The kids would share a “happy” meal, I would enjoy a leafy green salad, and the sunset would end a perfect evening.

Only I ordered fries I couldn’t eat. Then my son’s order was wrong, which resulted in four free chicken nuggets. And, perhaps most surreal of all, a cashier placed a free milkshake in my hand: “We forgot the whipped cream and cherry. Here!”

As my son’s ice cream cascaded down my wrist, I pondered the sticky dilemma. Light was fading, and so too was an opportunity.

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Things Fall Apart

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I don’t remember the trip home.

My first late night at the office this semester proved nearly disastrous. When my senses entered shutdown mode, I faced two choices: drive home sleepy or pass out beneath my desk.

But, in the middle of deep contemplation (i.e. the edge of hallucination), I heard an echo of laughter…and perhaps reason. It was a woman’s voice.

Immediately, I found myself overwhelmed with sadness. It was 11:45 p.m. and a lady – just outside my door – would soon retrieve my trash. What a life.

My very presence soon startled her. But, with one hand on her chest, her earnest eyes challenged my entire existence.

What are you doing here?

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In Sickness

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I hold this fear that I will die before I see 35. I worry I won’t know my son and daughter as teenagers. The very thought of never meeting my grandchildren, indeed, takes my breath away.

But I am overall healthy. I run 3-4 days a week. I don’t drink. And my days are fueled by oatmeal, nuts, and vegetables.

Recently, however, I was quite ill. Six hours of vomiting – to be exact. The virus was so powerful that I found myself gasping for air between commode encounters. On a makeshift bed of well-used towels – given to us at our wedding – I laid myself down. At 2 a.m. the Earth is silent.

Until, that is, I heard a door creak.

“I think I’m dying!”

“No, you’re not.”

And, with that, a hand I know so well rubbed my back.

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An Opt[ional] Out[look]

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“He’s at a great age for swim lessons.”

It’s one thing to hear such a statement from a stranger, but it’s another when the voice belongs to your three-year-old son’s pediatrician.

Truthfully, I had been preparing myself for this for some time. After all, older, more experienced parents have been warning me since pregnancy: “Just wait until the activities start.”

And now, it seems, the time has come, and the question is felt from all sides.

In which activities will we enroll our children?

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