You know how some news clips come with a warning: What is about to follow is disturbing and not recommended for younger children. I feel like a warning is appropriate: Scattered thoughts ahead, motorcyclists beware, or anyone who needs order and immediate clarity-be wise about proceeding. Needless to say I feel scattered.
I texted a photo to my husband. He is running with our two year old granddaughter, Elsa, and the slanted golden sunrays on a gorgeous October day warmed their smiles and curls as they ran. He texted back that he looks awful in the photo. I never would have sent it if that had been what I saw. What he saw was an over weight 62 year old. What I saw was the dearest love of my life who adores his grandchildren and loves his family well. I didn’t know what to do with his response.
It’s one of those complex days when my heart takes in so much that it hurts. It seems as if time is rushing at a furious speed and so I reflect backwards to try and slow it down. Life seemed much simpler when we got married in 1977. We had so many years ahead of us, unlike today where the years ahead are short.
Our friends were starting out in the ministry and we all lived on next to no money and we were somehow able to make ends meet. We lived in unusual places like a cabana hut in the back yard of someone else’s home, or we shared a home with a widow and made our own haven in her attic. Our last crazy abode was a 500 square foot one-car garage apartment. I longed for children, a home and furniture and “roots”. The roots came along with more disruption and at times chaos, but looking back it seems serene and easy.
The world seems more complicated to be “launched” as a young adult today. Housing is much more expensive and two incomes are usually necessary (and desired) to make ends meet. I quit my teaching job when we had our first child. Our budget was tight, but it worked even if I had to wear a swimming suit in our Florida home to save money by not using our air-conditioner.
Today seems different as I watch our adult children make their way. Four years ago our daughter and her husband and two sons lived with us while they were looking for a house to buy. Annie works two day a week as an acupuncturist and on those days I would take Van and Cole to “”Auntie Helen’s” for day care. I cannot say enough great things about “Auntie Helen.” She is a few years younger than me and has been doing childcare in her lovely home for twenty-five years. Her Australian accent is pleasing and her smile warms my heart as much as the children who come to stay while their parents go to work. I have learned much from her thankful heart and her love and skill in caring for young ones.
Currently, our son and his wife and their two year old live with us as they transition from having lived two years overseas. Our daughter-in-law teaches part time and I, once again, am back greeting Auntie Helen and dropping off Elsa so I can have a bit of time by myself.
I just dropped Elsa off at Helen’s to write this blog. You should see my house (a wreck). You should see the refrigerator (empty). You should see my “to do” list (pages with nothing crossed off). Sweet Elsa wanted to stay and and jump on my bed and go for a walk and read books. I made her cry when we had to get in the car for Helen’s so I could write. It hurts me to see her sad. I am not keeping it together as I’d like to be. My feelings are too tender and I am no longer on hormone replacement therapy, but that’s another story!
It is joyous to see life through the eyes of a two year old, but trying to keep my life and house in order is like trying to out run the bulls at Paloma. I know that this is a time for grace for myself, but I am not finding it! Where is it? Help!
Our daughter is getting married in a couple of weeks. Deadlines are crashing down quickly and too many loose ends keep showing up. I know about breathing, exercise, meditation, eating right, time for myself, and prayer. But, right now, none of those seem to be “working” as I would like. The black out blind did not get repaired and returned today (why did I put the port-a-crib so near the window?); the deck never got re-stained; the grass didn’t get thatched and now hydro-seeding is needed; the window replacements did not arrive.
I think what is going on is utterly unrelated to all that is swirling around me. I finally named what is at war: I am missing my parents. Amanda’s wedding has brought up the loss of all of our children marrying without my parents being there. It would have been wonderful to have had them alive and be able to attend. And, it would have been difficult to have had them there.
Both sentences are true. I have learned new things about trauma and abandonment through my Lay Leader training with The Allender Center. I am more aware of my parents’ trauma and loss. I am more aware how their trauma affected me in how they parented. I am more aware that I have failed my children and their children and I long for a day when all the harm of all our lives will be washed away in the bright presence of perfect love.
And so, I will gather my mature and aging self and pick up Elsa and go to the park and grocery store and have a bit of quiet during her naptime to edit. I will clean, pay bills and prepare dinner before everyone arrives home tired. And in this act of, “doing the next thing” as Elizabeth Elliott wrote, I will gain perspective higher than my own. His purposes are greater than the failures of our daily lives. I will trust that simple acts add up to a greater good. Sometimes experiencing joy take the patience to wait for the swirl to stop, for the next thing to be done, and to remember the new day ahead will come whether I am ready or not. And sometimes it comes with a kiss on my cheek. May mercy surprise me again.
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of 36 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living!