Here I sit on one of your chairs, spending some much-needed time with you today. What a mess you are, strewn with apples just bought at the farm stand, my purse, books I am reading, an open cereal container, a dirty plate filled with the remains of eggs and toast, my phone, some unpaid bills and a piping hot cup of tea.
You couldn’t be more perfect.
I am so sorry that I am not bringing you with me next week when we move.
You have been such a strong, yet inviting friend to me. Out of everything I am leaving behind, I will miss you most of all.
I will miss choosing you at the furniture shop over 28 years ago, my thoughts of the future with you swirling in my head.
I will miss decorating you for every.single.reason. From apples to pumpkins to snowflakes to birthdays to easter eggs to whatever tickled my fancy.
I will miss babies being pulled up in their high chairs next to you, surrounded by faces of those who love them.
I will miss the spinning lazy Susan in your middle that holds napkins, salt and pepper, the standard balsamic vinaigrette, butter and some spicy seasoning I refuse to try.
I will miss dogs licking up all the crumbs off the floor beneath you.
I will miss spaghetti-faced toddlers “coloring” you with red sauce.
I will miss sheets turning you into a fort for Dad and his little ones.
I will miss the small missing piece on your leaf where one of us dropped something hard and you paid the price.
I will miss your chairs where each one of us sat in our “assigned” places.
I will miss dishes being set on you for large family gatherings where you became the “kid’s table.”
I will miss laughing and crying, listening and talking, whispering and yelling, all of it.
I will miss nails being painted, pumpkins being carved and homework assignments being mostly finished on top of you.
I will miss the dreams shared, the scoldings given, and the “you have to try it” mantra being repeated every single night.
I will miss friends throwing purses on you and coats on your chairs as hearts were shared in another room.
I will miss birthday parties with cupcakes crumbled in your crevices and balloons tied to your chairs.
I will miss Thanksgiving soup being prepared as veggies and turkey were chopped into tiny pieces on your very sturdy, formica (but wood-look) top.
I will miss the way you endured beer-sampling, game-playing and appetizer-eating on all those crazy extended family holidays.
I will miss arguments, raised voices and quieter apologies with you right there in the middle of it all, holding us together.
I will miss how you held Easter baskets, babies, fondue sets, games, legos and gingerbread houses, displaying for everyone to see.
I will miss flowers, invitations and decorations scattered all over you as showers and weddings were being prepped.
I will miss normal family dinners when someone got trouble for poking the person next to them. (NOTE: It was never Dad.)
I will miss how you watched from afar as silly pictures were being taken on the computer only a few feet from you.
I will miss Friday pizza nights when you were sprinkled with paper plates and plastic cups filled with everyone’s favorite drink of choice.
BUT what I will really miss is the way you stayed with me through six kids, four houses, one marriage, lots of hellos, many goodbyes, and all the celebrations and sadness that made up our family. You stayed with me.
How good and precious for me to be alone with you right now, just the two of us, saying our goodbye to each other. Thank you for being with me as tears sneak down my cheek, a lump forms in my throat and I not-so-secretly hate leaving you behind. I couldn’t be more grateful to you. Thank you. Thank you. You have held my heart well.
You have been a mess in the past. You are a mess right now. But you have been perfect. You couldn’t be more perfect.
I will miss you most of all.
“She was an adventurer at heart. But oh how she loved drinking this tea in this mug in this chair. Oh how she loved to be home.” (Google Images)
When you hurriedly trekked up the sidewalk with your then 10-year-old in a whirlwind house-hunting trip in August of 2002 and opened the door at 23 Cedar Hollow Drive, DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know…
the neighbor boy that walked through the door the day you moved in would become one of your son’s life-long friends and your son would share the weight of pall-bearer at his dad’s funeral eight years later?
music would fill the living room and your baby would fall in love with the guitar and piano and her playing and singing would be a gift to your soul and you miss these moments terribly?
23 Cedar Hollow Drive would be brimming with boatloads of love for and from almost every species of animal, from snakes, to dogs, to cats, to hamsters, to fish (that wouldn’t die), to every assortment of lizard and now there is only one left?
your marriage, faltering at best, would become a place of hope and healing for dozens and dozens of young couples on the verge of their own life-long journey of marriage? (in fact, you are spending time with one of them again this morning)
your nervous decision to construct a pool granted a space for family, friends, teammates, youth groups, classmates, neighbors and even strangers to rejuvenate and be refreshed? (water gun fights and subsequent peals of laughter did just the trick)
first days of school and dance pictures and phone conversations filled with both laughter and tears would mark your front stoop (and who knows, maybe some goodnight kisses by young lovers)?
extended family would gather for holidays and normal days, where sports teams would be cheered for, good food would be eaten, games (and some arguments over those games) would be played, and most significantly, unbreakable bonds would be formed?
your young daughter, struggling with severe OCD and the inability to go away even for a week would receive help through counselors and would now be a flourishing wife, teacher and mom?
an actual wedding ceremony would be performed in your living room because the bride and groom thought the church was located in your town and got their marriage license in the wrong place?
annual Easter Egg hunts (or should I say money hunts) created a place for teens and budding adults to still be kids in all the best ways?
endless art supplies and crafts from your artist would be haphazardly strewn over all available surfaces and one of those works would be still hanging proudly in your family room for your prospective buyers to see and admire?
birthdays would be celebrated in all their simplicity and sometimes complexity, giving room for sharing reasons why the one whose day it was to be honored was loved (and even liked)?
every kind of sport uniform would be thrown in heaps on your kitchen floor and not-so-carefully cleaned in your laundry room, providing a place of community and friendship for your kids? (even as you write this, two of your son’s high school teammates are asleep with your 23-year-old in the basement)
your finished basement would be filled with sleep-overs and left-overs and hang-overs and do-overs and make-overs and probably thousands of humans entered those doors?
your outdoorsy son, content to spread mulch, carefully prune bushes and chop wood with his dad, would be happiest at his job doing the same? (and he would embrace your sports teams to the full)
your family room couch would become the healing place for illnesses too numerous to count, unforeseen and planned surgeries, along with the comforting spot to take a mental health recovery day and that you let your kids skip school for only this reason (oh how far you’ve come)?
small groups filled with lasting and abiding friendships would meet, pouring over books and videos, praying through heartache, celebrating joys, living the ups and downs of life and kids and marriage and…and…and.. (one of them still met last night right in your family room)?
the pony-tailed 10-year-old around the corner and school-bus seat mate would become one of your firstborn’s closest friends, bridesmaid fourteen years later and Auntie Taylor to your grandson?
a baby in your womb would be lost yet your heart would be born anew?
your game-boy playing first-grader would help you to create your new podcast and be a regular and wise guest?
early Christmas mornings would be filled with children (and even now adults) sitting on your bed opening surprises (and not-surprises) through sleepy, yet curious and excited eyes?
a nervous breakdown would seek to destroy you but a life-long journey toward healing and wholeness would begin and continue today and that a writer’s quest would result?
homework would be finished (or not-so-much), college applications would be filled out, but most important, hearts would be taught to love and hope and apologize and respect and give and continue to learn?
your basement would be the place for a barely sprouting church youth group of eight teens and three leaders that is now hundreds strong?
warm fires would be built inside and out, where stories were shared, sleep was encouraged, s’mores were eaten, and life-giving memories were created?
fights would break out, doors would be slammed, harsh words would be spoken, yet subsequent apologies would be made and forgiveness would be granted? Love and trust would be painstakingly built brick by brick?
your two-year old would happen upon a friend in first grade and after endless sleepovers, birthday parties and bring-a-friend vacations, their college hearts would be knit together even though hundreds of miles separate them?
your glass kitchen door would be filled with chore charts and yearly memorabilia, bird-feeder and deck-flower views, and sun-soaked floors for pets to relax and sleep blissfully?
seventeen New Year’s Eves would be celebrated, some quiet with tired bodies barely making it until midnight and others loud with friends singing God Bless America on the stoop after a long-night of Bunco?
a new love would come bearing another new love?
religion would be shed over and over and Jesus would rise in its place to become the healer of your heart and the lover of your soul?
you and Allen would be more in love than you thought was even possible?
Did you know…
Thankful tears would flow because this house is a true haven of healing and that as you leave it, your prayer is the same for the next set of feet that trek up the sidewalk and open your front door and make this their home?
Yes. This you now know. You know ALL of it.
If you’ve made it this far and you like this, I am asking if you could go back out on social media where you came from and “Like” it! Makes a huge difference in how much it gets read and/or shared. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
“Yes, please get a new cup every time you get a drink of water.” (No Mom Ever)
I lie alone in my bed on a very normal Wednesday night at 11 pm here in our sleepy little town. My husband, the heart of my heart, is at his apartment 350 miles away, where he works three days a week. Our oldest is hopefully sleeping soundly snug next to her husband with her baby boy a few short steps away in his crib (praying he is not sleeping like a baby, but more like a teenager) over two hours away. Our blond hair, blue-eyed first-born son, is probably nodding off in his apartment after a really long day working. My away-at-college senior might just be tackling a paper he has procrastinated writing. My baby, 19 year old curly-headed musician, is the farthest away, probably jamming away with friends on guitars, keyboards and microphones. My house is empty and my heart is scattered all over the East Coast.
Only eight short years ago, life was completely different. On those weekday nights, after showers were taken, toilets were flushed, teeth were brushed, homework was done, video-game playing came to a close, hugs were given, “I love yous” were said, all five of these people who my soul loves lay their heads on pillows within 20 feet of my own. My house was full and my heart was in one place at one kitchen table under one roof.
Yet tonight, as I lie in my very empty house, and although my heart is scattered, it is not empty. My heart is FULL. Full because on the very ordinary day, I have been loved by all the incredible people I shared the better part of my life with in one place at one kitchen table under one roof.
“Thanks, Mom, for all you did for us today.” (phone call from oldest as she was finishing up dinner with her new family after I had spent time caring for her baby and doing their laundry)
“See you this weekend, Mom.” (reminder from third-born about Friday night)
“Shalom to you too, beautiful wife.” (text from hubby as he heads to dreamland after our discussion about what peace really means)
“Love you too, Mom.” (text from son in response to our discussion about us getting him a puppy for his birthday)
Just as I cuddle up under my covers and am about to turn off the light, I receive one last “ding” on my laptop. It is the last of the bunch, our “Bug,” as she is known in these parts. And it is for no reason at all.
Lest you get some crazy notion from all this loveliness that this is how it’s always been or always is even now, let me set the record straight. Under this one roof at one kitchen table in one place, we had our moments. Fights over the huge and minuscule (there was even one earlier this week and it was a doozy). Broken rules and boundaries. Critical spirits and hurt feelings. Addictions and mental illness. Slammed doors and silent treatments. Sickness and sadness. Harsh words and ignorance. All the things that make up normal FULL family life.
But as today reminds me, this is NOT all there was or is now. Under this one roof at one kitchen table in one place, there were also “I’m sorrys” and “I forgive yous.” Respect and authenticity. Forgiveness and encouragement. Freedom and healing. Open hearts and honest conversations. Health and joy. Kind words and understanding. All the things that make up normal FULL family life.
So, Fellow Ordinary Moms and Wives who are…
STILL UNDER ONE ROOF:
I see you. I was you. It’s hard. Look up, Sweet Mama. Keep up the good work. Hang in there. You are amazing. The days are long, but the years are short. You’ve got this. Your family is normal. These people you love, but are ready to kill at any given moment, are worth every ounce of love you can muster and are pouring out and into them. They will make it. You will make it. You will never regret it. It may seem like there’s no end in sight, and your stuff feels huge (AND IT IS), but it will (AND THEY WILL) be okay and even possibly wonderful. Never forget this one truth: LOVE IS ALWAYS THE RIGHT DECISION!
ALONE IN YOUR BED:
I see you. I am you. It’s hard. Look up, Sweet Mama. Our hearts are scattered, yet they reach more places. Our love that we gave and are continuing to pour out is multiplied beyond measure. Hang in there. It will feel sad some days. It does for me too. I miss those times under one roof at one table in one place. But it will (AND WE WILL) be okay and even possibly wonderful. Even though the end is in plain view (and possibly in the rear view), we must keep loving and giving ourselves to our people. Even though our houses are empty, our hearts can be full. Never forget this one truth: LOVE IS ALWAYS THE RIGHT DECISION!
(One heart-wrenching note: for those of you who have lost children, I can’t even imagine. Your heart has been shattered beyond belief. It’s hard for me to speak to you because I don’t understand. I really don’t. But I do know that the love you showed them while they were here is not wasted. It’s continuing to multiply over and over again because love is like that. You loved them with your whole heart. In turn, they loved others with theirs. That’s what this world needs and you have given it freely and sacrificially. Thank you for taking that risk we all are taking as we love our children with our fierce mom love. I’m so sorry, Sweet Mama. My heart is with you and all us moms collectively salute you and hug you with our hearts.)
When our daughter became pregnant with our precious grandson, I was giddy. Not because she was going to produce a grandchild to me, even though that’s a lot of fun, but because she was going to join the massive, never-ending “Mom’s Club” that I am a part of. There’s nothing like it. We understand parts of each other that no one else does. We take a gigantic risk loving this human being, but we can’t help ourselves. We give each other that look (maybe of desperation or joy) across the room and the other mom sees our hearts behind our eyes. There’s nothing like it. We turn to each other in times of great heartache and are comforted. When we can’t speak with our mouths because the joy or the pain is too deep, we receive unspoken affirmation through hugs from each other. There’s nothing like it.
So Sweet Mama, thank you for loving. Thank you for sharing your heart with another. Thank you for making your little world a much more beautiful and safe place. You’ve got this! And together, we’ve got this in spades!