Day 4 of kindergarten and we keep going. We sleep at night and then rise to try again the next day. Perhaps life’s greatest gift: the chance to do it again the next day; the chance it might be different; the chance something will happen that will leave us more alive at day’s end.
Last night after a long day, we got to hymn #19 from our new nightly ritual of singing from the hymnal. I lay beside him in bed and I close the day with these words sung to my tired-from-courage boy…
Everywhere that we can be, Thou, God art present there.
To the Brothers in Our Home,
Your dad and I sit in a special spot. We get to be with you, observe you, and guide you for these years that you will not remember perfectly but will be affected by greatly. As I watched you play the other day, I couldn’t help but want your future selves to be able to see these present moments as we see them.
Life is about to change. A new baby brother is due in a few months. Older brother begins kindergarten in a few weeks. Your world is expanding. The insular world of brotherhood is about to be renovated for a whole new wing that includes another brother, as well as wider relational and cultural influence upon you all.
On the eve of this change, I want to make sure to remember for you how important your brotherhood has been. Continue reading
The house is quiet now, but once the doors creak open, the rooms will flood with noise. Paws will patter in the path after the youngest’s breakfast remains. The oldest will embrace the beloved, “stay at home day,” with pancake petitions and plans for play. “I’m cold,” on repeat, will lead the youngest to be picked up and enveloped in my arms.
The day will quickly turn into a never-ending line of requests and demands. They will be delightful Saturday ones, but commands nonetheless. I will enter fully into my specific role as “Mommy” within our family system.
I was in the ninth grade when Columbine happened. No longer the name of just a school, it represents the beginning of what has become the persistent violent anger taken out on the culture’s most vulnerable. Other than jail, schools are the only other place where people, based on age or life stage, are required to be. Don’t show up and face legal ramifications. And it is in this place – where futures are bright, opportunities abound, and parents’ hearts beat outside of their chest – that has become the bull’s-eye of violence.
Politicians debate and social media is polarized.
24-hour media cycles go on and on, running footage repeatedly AS IF that is helpful.
People dig down into their perspective and philosophies, choosing principles over people.
It is what it is.
Generally, politics fuel so much of my righteous anger that I find it best not to talk about it with others. However, as I approach the time when I have to send our oldest to kindergarten, it feels way more personal.
Cheek-to-cheek, our faces squeeze together in the dark as I comfort our youngest in the last bedtime ritual of the night. Ever since he was old enough to rough it in his room alone, we have had this moment at day’s end. The room’s darkness only makes all the other senses increase. He relinquishes any control over his body and simply lets me hold him.
At first, as an infant, he could rest solely on my chest, with my arms just as extra support. Now, almost two and a half, his arms wrap around my neck and his legs haphazardly fold around my sides. My arms squeeze him tight as I rub his back in the quiet.
He whispers, “mommy,” softly in my ear.
Hey brother. Hey brother. Hey brother.
Wherever our two brothers roam, these words show up. Spoken from the mouth of the oldest, they are words meant to unite them upon observation of an interesting thing or participation in a daring act. They are the words meant to allow the oldest the joy of inviting another to take part in shared delight. They are the words our youngest have heard from day one as the main words of orientation around this new and foreign world before him.
They usually come in repetitions of five or more because the youngest either hears white noise due to their regularity or simply to attest to the power of the youngest’s focus on what is before him. But eventually they catch his attention (spoken right into his ear with oldest waving arms before his face) and upon registering the invitation, the two brothers become one being. Continue reading
Amidst my two weeks of travel, a bird has set up its nest right outside our back door. Perched atop the lamp post, with bits of mulch and sticks and even a little recycling, Momma Bird sits atop her eggs waiting for their lives to come to be.
I can’t help but wonder if Momma Bird regrets her choice of nest location. For at least five times a day, the door opens right by those fragile little ones in order to send our beagle out back to use the bathroom dig holes.
It’s not only vulnerable. It’s risky. It’s dangerous. It’s almost painful to know how much life’s security and future hangs in the balance every time.
Where once he lay quietly while staring at me and discovering this world, he wiggles and lurches and almost tumbles off. I wrangle clothes on him and stand him up on the changing table to pull his pants up. Before I am even ready, he lunges into me, wrapping arms around my neck. Squeezing me, he exclaims joy in his indecipherable words straight into ear with his wet kiss staining my cheek.
I set him down on the ground and he bounds towards the toys. He plays with abandon. As I move rooms to continue the morning routine, he follows me. He brings me objects of interest – balls, trucks, airplanes, and markers left on the floor by brother who is furiously composing his next book (Mater Tales, part 4). Desperately trying to speak, he waits for me to confirm the objects’ name and respond with his ritualistic, “right.” A verification that he’s on the right track. Or perhaps a quiz to make sure mommy still has it to together.
My two boys,
A spring Saturday with Daddy on call on Louisville’s most accident-prone days, I knew it was a day for the three of us. I indulged myself with a 6:45 am alarm. You slept in enough for coffee to be made, eggs to be scrambled, and my eyes to open enough to greet the day happy at its arrival. I vowed that this Saturday, I would try to truly honor a Sabbath. I would not attempt to accomplish anything other than be with the two of you.
This is not to say being your mother is a restful task. You failed at sharing within moments of playing together and you squealed when things didn’t go your way. As I make my way through this journey with you as your mother, I give of myself, my personhood and my body, my daily tasks and my daily worries as means to grant you life, sustain that life within you, and nourish its growth.
I fill my days rushing around, worshiping the gods of efficiency and productivity. I thrive off of checking the boxes on my to-do list and I plan my day down the hour. I value a clean house and an empty counter.
So when the morning comes with the child hot with fever, my whole day feels ruined and I spend the next hours attempting to work and watch kids, aware that any attempt to juggle kids, my computer, and all the germs spreading is impossible.