Our anniversary

Six years ago, we chose commitment.
Two children of divorce, one leap
of well-considered faith in each other
and God. Our vows were promises
to do it differently, stay yoked
in our hearts and our bodies
no matter what comes at us.

Some days it's a charmed life
full of laughter and unexpected joy;
others we pace in separate corners
fighting the urge to pounce, destroy,
arise victorious from petty slights grown
into monsters on our tired shoulders.

Marriage is hard, dirty, exhausting work
but it has brought an emotional
and spiritual growth I couldn't fathom
when viewing it from the outside.
Children of divorce can't carry faith
in the institution and idea of marriage,
that bond that broke a family
once already in our short lives.

Yet growing together in this marriage
has taught me to keep trying,
to forgive, look deeper, and trust
that our commitment to each other
is a strong and precious truth.

Thank you for giving me that,
and for these six years together.

***This post is part of Six Word Fridays and Bigger Picture Moments.***

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He doesn't like me to take pictures of him. Or tell stories about him. Or brag about how smart and talented he is.

Those deep brown eyes no longer stare at me out of a round face that boasts chubby cheeks and a chiclet-toothed smile. He's all angles now, legs and arms and sharp bones that allow no give when I hug him.

He's learned crucial truths about his place in this world. "I'm not going to stare at you and talk about everything you want to talk about and laugh at all your jokes and say everything you do is amazing," I said in exasperation. "You have to do those things," he replied. "You're my mom and that's what moms are for."

He wants all of my attention, and none of it. The negotiations have already begun: To stay home alone, enter stores by himself, go to the movies with his friends, hold onto his own money. Though he still holds my hand in parking lots, his hand is as large as mine and his bony fingers hold no trace of his babyhood.

He makes his own lunch, sets his own alarm, and gets himself to the bus stop on time. He reminds me when his medication is low, keeps his own grocery list, and filled out his own application for football camp. When our town was devastated by a tornado, he taught other children the best way to stuff a toiletry kit and helped deliver plates of hot food to victims.

When I look at him, I get glimpses of what he'll look like as a man. Sometimes I try to see him objectively, view him as his eventual romantic partners will. I stop seeing that he still chews with his mouth open and instead notice his easy, slow smile. The way he notices everything happening in the room. How he listens intently when you speak.

He will make someone very happy some day. He will be considerate and gentle, romantic and funny, stubborn but adaptable.

Life with him is not easy. There's the intense anxiety over losing his teeth that's kept him up three nights in a row, the body-thrashing tantrums he falls into when his wants power ahead of his abilities (or his parents' decisions), and the forgetfulness that leaves me pounding my head against the wall.

He's extremely jealous of all three of his siblings and can't be alone in a room with his sister without driving her to tears. He's gotten into the habit of biting himself and has drawn his own blood several times in the past month.

He's still a 10 year old boy with clinical distraction and lots of anxiety. And yet, he's growing. Every day he's older and slightly more mature. He wears deodorant. When he stands in front of me, I can't see over his head.

He's my first born, and will be the first to fly the nest. The time between those milestones used to seem like eons. Today they are breaths exhaled too quickly, a twilight nap, a swath of wisteria thrown over roadside bushes -- exquisite and fleeting and gone before I could figure out how to appreciate them.

He's mine, now, but I see the steady spiral that will send him away from me. He will always be the child that made me a mother, but now I see he's the child who will teach me new definitions for that term as I loosen the boundaries I've spent 10 years maintaining.

I don't know when or how it will happen, but a day will come when he'll be an adult. I'll say of him, He was such an exceptional child. And I'll mean it with my whole heart.

***This post is part of Wordfull Wednesday.***

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On wisdom

There's so much I don't know
about the big stuff: life, death,
what it all means, or doesn't.

But what I know sustains me:
she will play legos for hours,
even fireflies make him nervous,
no poop talk ever gets old,
the weight of their sleeping bodies,
their ready smiles when morning calls.

Their songs and fights, bittersweet music
that's mine for only a fraction
of their wild and raucous lives.
Their hands quietly reaching for mine,
their dark eyes looking to mine
for guidance, acceptance, pride, and love.


There's not much wisdom in it,
but these details fill me up
and tell me exactly, without doubt
that without them, I'd know nothing.

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The tornado that struck our county two weeks ago left a 13-mile swath of destruction across our county, leveled 457 structures, cost millions of dollars, and took 2 lives. But when compared to the devastation in Alabama, we have nothing to complain about.

I guess that's called perspective.

My children have learned how to use their hands and hearts to bring comfort to those whose material possessions were tossed to the wind. My community has learned that we are each other's the greatest source of strength and hope, and that those material possessions aren't as important as they seemed.

We've laughed and loved. We've ensured no one goes without. We've turned strangers into lifelong friends. And we are currently holding Alabama in our prayers as we strategize how to get our surplus relief donations into the hands of the people there.

Our hearts cracked wide open, but rather than bleed with loss, we've packed those open spaces with more love than I could've thought possible. From loss and fear has bloomed strength that knows we can get through anything so long as we have each other.


***This post is part of Wordful Wednesday.***

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