22 Aug 2016

Why I’ve Been AWOL This Summer

I haven’t written in a long time because there has been so much to say.

Counter-intuitive, I know.

But that’s sometimes how summers are. You hope they’ll be long and slow and dreamy and instead they sort of run over you like kids through the sprinklers and you’re left with all these soppy wet footprints and more laundry but you did, after all, hope to get good and soaked by the time August rolled around.

So last night we got back from our final family trip of the summer – ten hours each way from MD to MI for a weekend wedding. I was dreading it. The trip. Not the wedding.

Dreading the packing and the driving and the being trapped in the car with my kids for that long. At the tail end of the summer the one thing you don’t think you still need more of is together time.

Turns out I was wrong. As also happens a lot with life and parenting.

It was just what we needed.

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That car with the stained carpets and the dinged up right hand door with all five of us for hours on end was the place we needed to emerge from for school today.

Sometimes going home doesn’t have to take you all the way to Michigan. It can just take you back to the insides of your minivan and conversations as long and winding as the road through the mountains of PA and you’re back where you didn’t realize you’d been missing.

Sometimes writers don’t write because they’ve run out of words or they’re tired of their own voices or the noise in their lives is so loud and chaotic and tender that it can’t quite be fitted into words yet.

Sometimes the processing and the learning and the conversations have to come before the writing.

And then sometimes all it takes is dancing to get the writing started again.

On Saturday night the wedding party took to the dance floor and it was as familiar as it always is to someone nearly 42 who’s attended her fair share of weddings. Except it wasn’t because this time my three children were at the center of that parquet floor that had taken Uncle David and his team of groomsmen hours to assemble as it stubbornly refused to make sense.

There they were – my children – in the middle of the heart of the heart of a wedding – the dancing. Under the big white tent and all the twinkle lights bearing witness to this coming of age.

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I looked at my ten year old son’s face and later that night, back in the hotel room when we were showering every one and getting ready for bed I leaned over and told my husband – that was definitive. I literally watched Jackson have a transformative experience.

And Peter was saying, yes, before I’d even finished the sentence because we both saw it.

We both saw our tween son look around him as the grown up cousins he loves let themselves be absorbed by the music and the delight in each other and invited the littles into the magic. And they threw themselves into it wholeheartedly.

At one point Zoe was asleep on my lap with her white lace petticoats piled in beautiful layers around her bare toes while Jackson took to the center of the circle of dancers. I could only see his feet because all around him there were arms raised clapping and cheering and whooping his name with delight.

I was sitting next to Micah with Zoe in my lap as my boy grew up into the man I now know he will be at all future weddings. At dances. At band nights and probably for hours in his bedroom when he thinks no one is watching.

He danced because dancing is an invitation, an act of celebration, a delight, a welcome respite from a world that tells us nothing is sacred anymore. Especially not dancing.

But Ben and Cora in their tent with the dusty rose centerpieces and the rain misting the sides and the fireworks over head – Ben and Cora romanced us all with their love. And yes, also with the dancing.

Because, after all, the thing about marriage is that it’s a reminder of how loved we are.

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Undeservedly, unreservedly loved. Wildly. Beautifully. Passionately.

Beloved like fireworks lighting up a pure Michigan Sky.

Loved like Jesus loves us. Loved *because* Jesus loves us.

Loved like Ben loves Cora.

Loved like these fireworks in my chest when I watch my children dancing watching their cousins dancing and celebrating each other. Celebrating years of friendship that we saw way back at our own wedding 17 years ago when it was just toddling across the dance floor.

Love that is still faithful after 54 years or 2 months.

Love that believes commitment is sexy.

Love that isn’t ashamed to teach this to its children by example.

Because marriage is forever exploding all our expectations in the brightest, sometimes hardest, sometimes quietest ways and it is reflected best on the dark days.

It lit up the sky and all our hearts this weekend and my children are still glowing.

So we drove home and we were home before we even got there because of what we’d seen and how we’d danced and born witness to the transformative act of being willing to lay down your life for your friends when that looks like spending a week, a month, a summer helping set up a wedding.

So that a nearly eleven year old from Maryland by way of South Africa could tell you as he lies stretched out in the back seat of a car 24 hours later, “Mom, I”m just so happy we went to Cora’s wedding.”

We teach our children about happily ever after by taking them back to the beginning where it all started. This dance of commitment. That seventeen years later looks like five people stuffed into a minivan for 10 hours and a million potty breaks.

This is love.

This is family.

This is worth writing about because it’s where all wounds are healed and all words are born. Out of the deep reminder that we are all of us loved. Not because of what we do but because we are family.

To the Jesus who loved His friends well once upon a time at a wedding.

We got home late last night and the kids started back to school this morning and my words arrived again.

I’m so glad to be back.

12 Aug 2016

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06 May 2016

Here’s To All The “Ordinary” Mothers

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