By Way of Encouragement to Tell Your Story

Jun 29 2012

Yesterday morning, I almost ran over a Giant Pheasant on the rural highway that takes me to work. I was in the 63 mile-per-hour zone (the state continues to refuse my reasonable written requests to formally change the signs from 55mph – geez), and as I rounded a corner by the Onion Flats, there stood the bird in my lane looking prehistoric and noble and also totally immobile.

Until that very moment, I didn’t realize that Giant Pheasants were a thing. But when I saw this

except this size,

I was pretty sure.

I mean, it wasn’t exactly those colors. More washed out and muted. But I would’ve gone pale, too, if I found myself on a highway with a bright blue Pontiac bearing down on me at 63 mph, so who am I to judge?

And also, it had tall, road-runnery legs.

And also a ridiculous, bobbing head piece that looked a lot like a peacock.

Oh my gosh! It was a peacock! Except not a peacock because it wasn’t blue and green and iridescent and shiny. It was a peahen. A weary, brown, matte, sleep-deprived peahen who, in her exhaustion, forgot to put on any make-up or change out of her ratty old pajamas and who was, by God and an epic effort of sheer feminine will, doing her very best to put one foot in front of the other and was about to be slammed anyway for not moving fast enough.

Or I might be projecting a tiny bit.

Sometimes, I forget that living in Oregon is different than living in Other Places.

I forget that you might not wave at llamas on your walk or veer sharply in your car to avoid a wayward, overwhelmed peahen.

I forget that there’s anything at all interesting about here. This place. This life.

I forget that there are beautiful, special, wonderful things.

I forget that not everyone spends their summer evenings gathered with neighbors to watch the local fire department conduct a controlled burn of the old house at the llama farm a stone’s throw from our back gate.

And that your kids might not come home two hours late smelling like soot and excitement because their daddy loved the fire too much to bring them to bed on time. And that the same kids may not tramp muddy bare footprints through the back door and the kitchen and down the hall and up the stairs to the laundry room because wearing shoes to a Burn is overrated.

Somehow, our special life slips over and over into the mundane, and I make the mistake of thinking it’s common.

Somehow, when I look at other lives online, their uniquenesses are so vivid and blue and green and iridescent and shiny and obvious – with their travel and accomplishments and fancy head plumes and long legs – that I allow their blinding brilliance to rob me of my story. I let the doubts sneak inside my soul, and I feel shabby and boring and like I’m standing still on the highway about to be run down.

A few nights ago, I had a conversation with a mom I like. She’s always funny and personable and witty. She loves to read and to talk, and I think she’d make a terrific writer. But she told me her life is too boring. “Not like yours,” she said, and that’s rattled and rolled like a loose marble in my head for days now because I’d love to hear her story. What is it like, I wonder, to live your whole life in one place? What is it like to have geographical roots? What is it like to take your child to see the places you saw through your own childhood eyes and to not have your past lost in murky moves that make it forever a fairy tale and also totally inaccessible? What does it feel like to live in your skin? Does it feel like it feels to live in mine? All strange and stretchy and too tight and familiar and lonely and joyful and broken and human and sometimes divine?

And so I write this as an encouragement to you – and a reminder to me – to tell our stories.

Tell stories. Tell stories. Tell stories.

Tell stories like Jesus who showed us how to Love and who our neighbors are.

Tell stories like Nora Ephron so we can watch Meg Ryan fake an orgasm in public and ask to have what she’s having.

Tell stories like my grandmother who was passive aggressive and funny and crazy and wrote poems about squirrels and named herself after me.

Tell stories because they knit us together and put us in each other’s skin.

Tell stories because they define us and root us to history.

Tell stories because they’re the best, clearest path to the truth.

And tell stories because there’s a peahen who’s stuck on a highway who needs to know she’s OK.

And if you have a favorite story that hits you in heart and ties you more firmly to the funny or the mundane or the magical or the meaningful – a story you’ve read or a story you’ve told or a story you’re going to write right now – hit me with a link below, because I want to read it very much.

With love,
B

………

P.S. I pilfered that pheasant image from Oak Ridge Pheasant Ranch. I image they know the difference between a pheasant and a peahen. Unless there are weary mamas who work there, too, in which case they might make an occasional but well-intentioned mistake, and I think we should all give them a freaking break and a big hug and a hearty, “Good job, mama!” because they probably really need a kind word when they screw up. OK? OK.

A Double Measure of Grace

Jun 27 2012

Once upon a time, there was a little girl.

Her name was Aden, and she was very beautiful and very, very naughty…

……….

Aden means Beautiful in Hebrew and Fiery in Celtic. And I never, ever, ever believe people when they say names don’t mean anything, because, Hello, my Beautiful and Fiery girl!

Oh, Miss Aden, how I love you.

A year ago at this time, the anticipation was killing me – Killing Me! – because my baby girl was coming off of a couple of creative school suspensions, and she was headed to a week away at Girls Camp, and I didn’t know how it would go. I didn’t know if she’d make it through the week because an entire week is a long time in which to be kind and to try to make friends and to flick no one in the face.

I spent the week Aden was away at Girls Camp with bated breath.

Argh! I just hate that place in mamahood where we don’t know! Have you visited that place? That place where we wonder if we’ll look back someday and giggle at their crazy childhood antics… or whether we’ll have to bake cookies for prison visitation day? It’s a hard mental mama place. 

But she did it! Oh, my Aden girl rocked that camp and didn’t burn anything down. She was awesome.

And here we are, a year later.

A whole year later.

A year of Not Knowing.

A year of Breath Holding.

A year of Wondering.

A year that slowly morphed, as Aden learned to communicate and to be kind and to make friends, into a year of Trusting.

A year of Courage.

A year of Pats on the Back.

And a year of Earning Privileges.

Oh, the difference a year can make!

Aden came home the last day of school with a note. It was a scrap of plain white paper cut from a bigger sheet, photocopied and obviously distributed to masses of children. It was, clearly, nothing special.

Aden handed me the note beaming. Glowing with fierce pride. I scanned the message, I handed it back, and I asked Aden to read it out loud because I knew I couldn’t do it without choking up.

Congratulations! Aden read. This student has had no major or minor referrals this year.

No major OR minor referrals this year. 

No suspensions.

No hitting.

No flicking.

No visiting the principal’s office.

A year of Working Hard to Make Miracles.

A year of WOW!

Aden stood on her chair at dinner that night to read her note out loud, and our entire family gave her a standing ovation that held not even the tiniest stitch of irony.

Aden leaves on Sunday for camp again. Year #2 of Girls Camp! Last year, I was worried. And though this entire essay paints the picture that I was mostly worried about her behavior, I think you’ll be unsurprised to learn that my worry was for my baby. Because Aden was headed into a place filled to the brim with potential friends, and though she’d begun to understand the methods and application of Appropriate Behavior, she didn’t yet know how to cross the Bridge of Friendship. But she so desperately longed for a friend. And nine years is sure a long time to go without one.

Dear God, I prayed. Help her. Please. Please, please, please help her. Help her negotiate this tricky Girl World. Help her to be kind. Help her find forgiveness when she makes mistakes. But mostly, God, help my baby girl find her way. Help her find the way to be her truest, deepest self. Help her find the spunky, confident, funny kid she is… full of fire and passion and beauty. And help her find a friend. 

And then there was Grace.

There, in the middle of camp, grace in the shape of an 8-year-old girl who doesn’t like to brush her hair and who hates chocolate and who rolls her eyes in great big, sweeping eye rolls and who is wise and compassionate beyond her years – Grace grabbed Aden’s heart and didn’t let go.

Grace gave Aden a real shot at a real friendship.

And Grace has continued to hold Aden close and to treasure her and to encourage her and to push her to excel and to love her true, crazy self, the way that the very best girlfriends do.

Grace.

Her name, for real, is Grace.

And Aden made a second good friend this year.

Guess what her name is?

Grace. Her name is Grace, too.

It makes me want to sit down for beers with God – to collapse bonelessly and breathlessly  into our regular booth at the pub – and clink our bottles and shake my head in amazement and smile through my weary, happy tears and say, “Good one, God. Really, really good one. That was just extraordinarily well played.” Clink.

Because you know what? In the midst of my lowest mama moments of worry and confusion and fear and angst – the ones when I didn’t know and hated the Not Knowing – God knew.

God knew that Aden needed a double measure of Grace.

And that I did, too.

………

Once upon a time, there was a little girl.

Her name was Aden, which means Beautiful and Fiery. And she had two friends named Grace…

……….

My brother and I never didn’t bicker.

Jun 25 2012

Today is my little brother’s birthday. Jeff is 35. Woohoo!

Here’s what I need for you to know about Jeff:

Jeff pooped his pants a lot when he was younger.

Like, Jeff pooped his pants ’til he was 17. Or maybe just ’til he was 6. It’s hard to say for sure; time was all wonky when I was a kid.

My mom told me not to make fun of my brother for pooping his pants. She also told me to be nice to him and to share my stuff with him and to include him in games with my friends, so she was pretty much irrational all the way around.

My mom said Jeff’s pants pooping problem was caused by food allergies which made his poops impacted or loose or loosely impacted so it just fell out of his po-po and that it wasn’t his fault.

(It’s important to note here that “po-po” is what we called butts in my house growing up because only people with poor manners said the word butt.)

(Also, I still have an almost irresistible urge to apologize to my mother and to Jesus when I say butt even though I’m a grown-up.)

(Sorry, Mom and Jesus.)

Anyway.

When my brother was young and had that poop-popping-out-of-the-po-po problem, my mom fed him buckets of Metamucil and giant vitamins from a plastic, seven-day vitamin dispenser, and she said I should have compassion for Jeff. I thought Jeff should stop pooping his pants all the time. We lived with that impasse for years.

In addition to the poop, there was the pee. (Isn’t that always the way?)

From 1977 until Forever, Jeff had a queen-sized dark green blankie made out of slippery nylon fabric. All of its cotton batting came loose in 1977-½ and gathered in one spectacular, fused lump in the corner, so the blanket was just two pieces of slick nylon with a nice, hard sphere which was especially good for whacking irritating big sisters. Jeff’s blankie smelled of rancid urine. I know the smell existed ’round-the-clock because I regularly snuck into his room after bedtime to ask him to forgive me for being so rotten to him all the time. I knelt by his bed night after night, smelling the pee as penance while I told Sleeping Jeff that I was sorry.

It was a complicated relationship.

There was poo. There was pee. There was crying. And there was fighting.

Oh my word, the FIGHTING.

Jeff and I bickered all growing up. All. Growing. Up.

In other words, Jeff and I never didn’t bicker.

The other mommies and daddies in our friend group used us as the penultimate example of How Not To Behave. When the other kids got bickery, their folks whispered in their ears that they were acting like Beth and Jeff. “You’re acting just like Beth and Jeff!” they said. And the kids’ eyes went round with horror and they shaped right up.

True story.

When my dad speaks of Jeff’s and my childhood, he uses the word despair.

Heh heh.

My mom told Jeff and me that someday we’d be best friends. “Someday,” she said, “you’ll be best friends.” It was like Chinese water torture. I think she said it half to brainwash us into believing it was true and half because my mom is an unreasonable optimist when it comes to her children.

In conclusion, never underestimate a mom with mad brainwashing skillz and unreasonable optimism.

Happy Birthday, Jeff!

I love you love you love you.

Also,
CONGRATULATIONS
on not pooping your pants or smelling like rancid urine anymore.

You rock.

……….

P.S. Jeff and I continue to speak Mockery as our primary Love Language. Jeff’s gorgeous and kind wife, Kim, has only a sister and no brothers and despairs of ever understanding this brother/sister dynamic. Jeff and Kim are raising a girl and two boys. If you can help assuage Kim’s bro/sis confusion with your own sibling stories, do share.

………

P.P.S. This chat just happened:

Me: Dude.
Jeff: What’s up?
Me: It’s June 25th. Today’s the day Michael Jackson died.
Jeff: I know.
Me: IT’S ALREADY BEEN 3 YEARS!
Jeff: We should have a moment of silence for MJ.
Me: His musical legacy is really important.
Jeff: Seems like just yesterday.
Me: I had posters. And Billy Jean Is Not My Lover is SO TRUE.
Jeff: Not black, not white? A message for this, and really, every generation.
Me: YES.
Me: Also, it’s your birthday.
Me: So I’ve written some reminiscences of our childhood. The blog post starts, “Jeff pooped his pants a lot when he was younger.” K? K. Glad we had this talk. Love you. Bye.
Jeff: WAIT! It’s also the birthday of Ricky Gervais.
Me: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Ricky!
Jeff: Love you, too.

And that is what I’m talkin’ about, folks.

……….

The Mouse and the Mommy Cycle

Jun 22 2012

I stuck my mascara wand in my left eye this morning because my left eye back-talked me and violence is always the solution.

Now, technically, my left eye didn’t say anything out loud, but that’s only because it lacks the means to do so. The way it was blinking all passive-aggressive at me just really yanked my chain, you guys.

You might think I’m overreacting, but right after I popped my left eye a good one, it popped me right back with a Super Blink. You know the one. The extra watery, blurry, deep eye crunch? The one that paints your entire eye socket and cheek with wet mascara? The one that says, “Oh, yeah, lady? You think you can poke me with your mascara wand? Well, take this,” and leaves muddy tracks down the side of your face just to make a point?

This is war, is all I’m saying.

Speaking of war, there’s a live mouse under my dishwasher. It’s been there since yesterday.

FYI, there’s a guy who lives here in Oregon who contracted the plague last week after attempting with his bare hands to resolve a conflict between a cat and a mouse.

He contracted the plague.

The PLAGUE.

The PLAGUE.

I hear the mouse is more scared of me than I’m scared of it, but a) I DON’T CARRY THE PLAGUE, and b) the mouse doesn’t jump onto the kitchen table when it sees me and scream for the kids to, “RUN! Run run run run run! It is COMING TOWARD YOU. IT WILL BITE YOU. YOU WILL DIE. RUN!” so I think that’s a bunch of hogwash.

Aden, our resident animal lover, wants to keep the mouse as a pet. Shrieking, “YOU WILL DIE” at her didn’t persuade her.

Aden says we’re obligated to provide housing to the mouse just because we own a Mouse House in a low-rent district. I tried to explain the PLAGUE to her, but all she sees is Cute + Fuzzy + Warm Brown Eyes. What I’m saying is, it is going to suck when she’s old enough to date, you guys. It is going to suck.

Greg tried to catch the mouse ’til after midnight last night. Then he quit after I gently explained that the sun-like blaze of Seriously? You Turned On Every Light In The House?? was I Cannot Sleep AT ALL, Greg. Greg said he thought that I wanted him to get rid of the mouse and that having the kitchen lights dimmed wasn’t the same as turning on every light in the house. I said that I’d happily take the mouse to bed with me if he would just Knock It Off and The Lights Are Burning My Eyes.

It might seem like a contradiction – to screech at the rodent that carries our deaths in its mouth and then invite it to sleep with me – but I am here to tell you that I make sense. I fail to see, in fact, why this is such a hard logical leap to make.

Here, let me help you.

I am afraid of Certain Things, and some fears supersede others, thusly:

  1. Never sleeping. Ever again. Despair. Despair. Agony. Despair.
  2. Horrific death by plague.
  3. Going to work with smeared mascara.
  4. Staying at work with my zipper down.
  5. Losing an eye because I have violent mascara wand tendencies.

So. In priority order, you can see why Oh Dear God in Heaven, I just want to SLEEP.

(You can feel free to post those on the fridge, Greg, for future reference.)

In other news, last night my teenager described to me the way I talked to my children yesterday. She felt I was being somewhat inconsistent. This is what she said:

  • To your preschoolers, you’re all “Sweet, sweet, nicety nice, sweet, nice, sweet.”
  • To your elementary school kids, you’re all “Do your chores. And I mean NOW.”
  • To me and Dad, you go “RrrrrAAAARRR.”

In conclusion, I’m going to title this post The Mouse and The Mommy Cycle because sometimes a good title says it all.

The End.

Except, RrrrrAAAARRR.

……….

 

It’s National Intention Deficit Disorder Awareness Week! (I meant to tell you sooner.)

Jun 20 2012

Last week, I mentioned on Facebook that my husband believes he suffers from Intention Deficit Disorder.

Greg just told me he has Intention Deficit Disorder.

Now, if we discover that Intention Deficit Disorder runs in our family, that would explain a LOT of things, you guys. Like the filth. And most of the squalor.

(We intend to clean our house. I swear we do!)

Sometimes having the diagnosis is a relief, ya know? It’s like the confirmation that we’re not crazy. There IS a problem, and it has a NAME.

Although I’m not at all new to having intention deficits, I’m entirely new to it as a recognized disorder. I thought you might be, too, so I decided to become an advocate. An activist. A raiser of awareness! Woot!

I thought about what I might do. I pondered. I watched 4 episodes of Downton Abbey. And I decided all the way last Friday to make this week – June 18-22 – National Intention Deficit Disorder Awareness Week.

Every day this week, I meant to post on Intention Deficit Disorder, you guys. The highs. The lows. The stories of our fellow sufferers. The ways to reach out. The ways to find help.

But, then, well, life happened. And I didn’t get around to it. And I thought it was too late to start National Awareness Week mid-afternoon on a Wednesday in the summer. And that’s when I realized that I was wrong to continue to put this off. I can tell my own story, imperfectly and late, and highlight how very prevalent this disorder is. It seeps in, you know? It takes away time. Intention Deficit Disorder makes me feel unproductive because what I meant to do is not what I did. Even worse, it discounts the mountain of work I did do as worthless just because I didn’t intend to do it.

Well, pffttt on that!

Naysayers to the back of the line!

Onward and upward, I say!

That’s why I am thrilled to announce that this week is

National Intention Deficit Disorder Awareness Week
June 18-22 

And that’s not all!

I’m not just paying lip-service to this effort. Oh, no. I created a pamphlet.

I know! A whole pamphlet! Believe me, I understand your excitement, because we all know that the first step to getting help is reading a pamphlet.

And so, without further ado, I present to you The Intention Deficit Disorder brochure.

 

 

Contact me to order piles and piles of pamphlets so you can join me in blanketing the streets with them.

And, before you leave to do the things you intend to do today, take some time share your own stories and struggles with Intention Deficit Disorder below.

xoxo,
B

…….

 

Why My Kid Deserves a Trophy (and You Do, Too)

Jun 14 2012

Oh, dear. I know the Trophy Traditionalists will disagree with me. And I do hate being the harbinger of conflict, but I just can’t bring myself to believe that our loose trophy-giving morals are ruining America.

I want to you know I tried. I did. I went out back, I put on my sternest face, and I said, “All of this willy nilly, excessive trophy-giving is terrible. It’s sending the wrong message to our children. It’s contributing to a whole generation of lazy, entitled kids. And it’s gotta stop!”

But, alas, I lacked conviction.

You know what else?

I think people are special.

It’s true. I do.

Despite the empirical proof that no one’s special (the numbers say so!), I stubbornly believe the logical fallacies that we’re all unique and we’re all stand-outs in the crowd.

But how can you believe that, Beth? “All unique” is such an oxymoron!

I am so glad you asked because I’ve been asking myself the same thing for days, and it’s taken me this long to listen well to my gut reaction (which sounded a lot like “but, but, but…”) and turn discomfort into words that make sense.

The conclusion that I’ve reached is that hard data is important. It’s essential. It’s foundational. And it’s also not the whole house.

Hard data is a means to understanding. It’s a piece of the puzzle. And hard data is always dwarfed by the depth and complexity of human experience because numbers are too small to capture the breadth of a life lived or of mischief managed or of an imagination unlocked and set free.

I know. I know! I’m hopeless.

I’ve heard a lot lately about the trophies. The truckloads of trophies, you guys! Trophies that are tossed like confetti at every child for every achievement. Trophies for kids who participate in sports and art and academics… and in blowing their noses really, really hard. Or trophies for kids who think about blowing their noses really, really hard. And all of this nonsensical trophy-giving is a Big Deal in the world of child-rearing with the loudest voices telling us parents that we’re getting it wrong, wrong, wrong with our give, give, give.

Now, as far as I can tell, the Trophy Traditionalists’ motives are good. They seek to promote substance over style, and they want to reward real achievements instead of building in kids an absurd sense of entitlement. Their rallying cry is against lethargy and unearned privilege. And I agree with their motives.

But I fear that our national cry of “Too many trophies!” misses the mark because it sends a strange, mixed message:

We like to tell kids that it’s not winning that counts; it’s how we play the game. We tell them that the game is about working hard and about courage and about persistence in the face of defeat. And then we tell them that only the winners deserve trophies. When we do this, we send a message to our kids, loud and clear, that they’ve earned nothing until they’re on top. Until they’ve obliterated the competition. Until they’ve achieved more and better and bigger than their peers.

Is that really the message we’re hoping to send?

Is that really who we want our kids to be?

No wonder kids are confused. No wonder I am.

Now, sure. Many of our winners are hard, hard workers, and I don’t begrudge them their trophies. I’ll cheer our Olympic athletes this summer from the edge of my couch, and I’ll care about their victories and their defeats. I’ll care about their stories. I’ll care about what makes them tick. I’ll care about their extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. And I’ll care about the source of their strength. Winners matter. They do. Just as much as losers.

But you know who’s my real life hero? The mediocre athlete and poor academician I revere? The one I’ll cheer the loudest?

It’s my son, Ian.

My son, Ian, who’s never been on a winning team.

My son, Ian, who bravely battles his broken brain every day, not to compete well with his peers, but to simply communicate and survive.

My son, Ian, who’s a total punk and a raging butt nugget because he’s 12 and annoying.

My son, Ian, who’s sweet and sensitive and compassionate.

My son, Ian, who has one, tiny soccer trophy that he treasures because one year, one coach bucked the no-trophies-for-losers tradition.

My son, Ian, who is special no matter what the numbers say.

I say that the kid who keeps showing up at the field and at school without a prayer of winning – the kid who participates anyway – that is a kid who deserves a trophy. That is a kid who wins at tenacity, the same way that the gifted athlete wins the game. That kid should be praised and encouraged and, yes, that kid deserves a trophy as a physical reminder that we value the courage it takes to show up and play.

And you know who else deserves a trophy?

You do.

We do.

We mamas. We parents. We caregivers and teachers and friends.

Because, some days, the most courageous thing we do is show up. And then, because we are extraordinary, we work hard. We participate. We win. Sometimes. And we lose, and we lose, and we lose. And the next day, we choose to walk onto life’s field and do it all again.

And that makes us pretty darn special.

…….

 

 

Mothering doesn’t get easier. It gets stronger.

Jun 13 2012

You know how intensely irritating (read: soul-sucking) it is when you’re barely surviving the raising of little littles and you’ve been covered in spit-up and boogers and yogurt and poo for days, and you’re praying for just three hours of uninterrupted sleep (or a terrible car accident that will put you in the hospital for at least a week where soft-spoken nurses will bring you soup and say, “there there” and hit you with a shot or twelve of morphine every couple of hours), and so you post a cry for help (or at least for sympathy) on Facebook – “SO TIRED!” – and some mother / soon-to-be-former friend who’s apparently FORGOTTEN EVERYTHING about the early years of child-rearing says something like, “Oh. You think you’re tired now?? Just wait ’til you have teenagers. HAHAHA!”, and then, to rub it in extra hard, she adds a winky face, and you want to unfriend her but that’s not at all homicidal enough?

You know that experience, mamas?

Well.

I just want you to know that Not Every Mama of Teenagers a) thinks that, much less, b) says it aloud. REALLY. I SWEAR IT. LOTS OF MAMAS OF ALL AGES ARE UNITED.

In fact, I was just expressing sympathy to a Mama of Teenagers who was at the hospital all night with her sick husband, and she responded, “Meh. Being barely functional works out just fine when you only have teenagers. They can fend for themselves.”

Oh my goodness. It was such a hope-filled, gorgeous thing to say in the midst of her own exhaustion that I felt I SIMPLY MUST share it with you so we all might feel the warmth of hope together.

xoxo,
B

P.S. THANKS TO ALL THE UNITED MAMAS OUT THERE! Really. You make a WORLD of difference.

…….

I shared that run-on gem on Facebook last night.

And it would be enough to put here all by itself because it’s true.

But it generated a question that captured my attention. A mama of teens wrote this in response: “I have to say that sympathy is what the young mommas need, not one-upsmanship. But when they ask me, with desperate faces, if it gets easier, should I lie and say yes?”

SUCH a good question. Really. SUCH a good one.

What do we do?

What do we say?

What do we mamas who’ve run and run and run our race on the Mama Road say to our newest members? What do we say when they’re tired? What do we do when their confidence is shaken? How do we help when they’re faltering and wobbly and certain that this race was the worst idea?

Oh, mamas. How do we run this race together? What do we do to become friends and not foes? How do we offer sympathy and share our pain and still encourage each other?

Well, I don’t know – not all of it, anyway. But I know a piece. And I will give you that gladly.

Here is what’s true in the truest way I know to say it.

Mothering is a breathless endeavor. It’s breathless in the running. Breathless in the wonder. Breathless in the pain. And breathless in the joy.

Mothering is a race. Make no mistake. It’s a marathon and more. An epic story that moves, mile upon breathless mile, and coast to coast, and then even further, where no roads exist.

Mothering is a breathless endeavor. And that is a Not Lie to share.

Mothering is a breathless endeavor because mothering changes as soon as we figure it out. And then it changes again, and it changes again, and we mamas keep running. We run no matter the weather, no matter the season. We run when we’re aimless with exhaustion, and we run when we’re sure of our purpose. We run when we’re desperate to sit and to quit, and we run when we’re sure we can go for eternity.

Mothering is a breathless endeavor which is why it’s so strange and abrupt when we find rest in the running. Rest that looks like no rest we’ve ever known. Rest in a sigh. Rest in a triumph. Rest in a cup of coffee or a friend’s kindness or our baby’s first steps. Rest that’s always more fleeting than we’d like, but rest we learn to catch in fits and starts. In split seconds and pauses, we learn how to make the little bits enough.

Mothering is a breathless endeavor, but, oh, the strength! What strength grows from the stretching and the pulling and the soreness of prolonged mothering. New mamas, you’re earning your strength right now, at this very moment, on the altar of weakness, like every athlete that has come before you. You’re winning your strength during every long night as you discover your mama self and forge your resolve and become dependent on the Divine.

This is the Not Lie, new mamas – this is the mystery of the Breathless Endeavor – that strength comes from weakness and that we, the most reluctant of the runners, somehow fall in love with the sacred ground we tread.

No, friends, mothering doesn’t get easier. That’s the Truth. Mothering continues to change us and to challenge us. Always. It moves us and it shapes us. It pains us and it soothes us.

Mothering doesn’t get easier. It gets stronger. 

And therein lies our hope. Not in ease. But in strength.

Strength in weakness. Joy in the journey. Rest in the running.