seismic and other descriptors

This might have been the longest I’ve ever gone without offering something to this space. I kept thinking I would write when there was time. I would write something thorough and compelling, something that summed up this crazy time of transition: how joyful it has made me and how heartsick it has made me. Something that might be of service to me (in the writing) and you (in the reading). I feel like I have about a dozen posts to write and nothing to say at all. Full/empty. Elated/leveled.

I want to write about this of-the-body baby and what it is to love a child whose temperament is so different from mine: the mystery, the fear, the worry, the thrilling fascination. I want to document how he belly laughs when we read Red Hat, Green Hat, and how proud he is of himself when he signs “more please” and we understand him. How determined he is. How his determination alone could move great cities.

I want to write about Bram and his intense mind, how it works. How like me he is and how differently frightening that is.

To talk about both our boys’ easy affection and how grateful I am for that every day. “Kiss is this,” we say, like Dinah from Dinosaur Kisses.

About how I had childcare five days in a row last week (which will be rare), and though most days it was only for a few hours, it still felt seismic to be away so much. To know they were here – each with their current struggles and joys – with someone who isn’t me. How privileged and entitled I feel, and embarrassed for being hurt by this shift when I’ve had over three years of mostly.just.home. When even now I’m home way more than I’m not. When I’m one of the lucky ones, and I don’t ever forget it, or almost never. And yet.

And my job. How I love everything about it except that it takes me away. That I leave now. That I leave, and that even when I’m here my head is working sometimes, and I listen less closely, and time moves faster, and I’ve accidentally let in a new element of busy and I’m not sure how to get it back out again. And most of you know this with so much more depth than I do.

But oh, the work. The work itself. The architecture of the space is just pretty. And the people are honest and devout and free with grace in a way that I wouldn’t have even believed possible. And the work is challenging and soul-feeding and dynamic in ways that use most of me (head, heart, spirit, body, artist’s soul that I’m not sure I even knew I had). And I sit down sometimes, which – after three and a half years of all-the-time parenting – feels deeply indulgent. I can read an article. I can pee when I want. I can get another cup of coffee and set it anywhere because no one will spill it and hurt themselves. I can walk into the sanctuary any time. Be alone in that sacred space. I do sacred work, which is so like the sacred work I’ve been doing these years – it is, it seems, another form of motherhood – but which is also expansive, somehow wide, with space to breath. Because parenting when they’re little, when it’s all the time: there’s no space to breath. But breathing this way hurts after all this time. I want it; I don’t want it. I am equal parts grateful and grieving. It’s feels like a betrayal. Like a gift straight from God.

For everything I learn (and there’s so much to learn. And I love every bit of it.) I feel the weight of what I haven’t learned about Bram. About Lou. About being a mother. I know plenty of men do this too, I do, but often lately I am just in awe of women. Of women, who have long had servant’s hearts. Who have served, and mothered, and given. I cooked Indian food for seventy-five parishioners this week. I am entrusted with the responsibility of helping young children know God. Understand not what our culture thinks of Jesus, but what his deeply radical message really was. And how to pray. And how not to neglect their spiritual selves. How to revere and also just enjoy. How to give thanks.

I write curriculum. I read from the Revised Common Lectionary. I read from the Bible. I read complex theology, and biblical history, and children’s books on prayer. I read them alone in the only solo office I’ve ever had. In the prettiest office. I read them with Bram, whose spiritual and religious curiosity seems boundless. I teach children about liturgy. Teach them to say the words they hear again and again, and how to love the power of the ritual: of offering another human bread. The body of Christ; the bread of heaven. What it means to say amen. I work in a building with wall-sized stained glass. With old pews and old crosses where people have come for generations. People who know things I’m too young to understand. There is little noblesse oblige: that old idea of charity that I dislike so much. It’s not about charity, but there is so much service. No locked doors. No stipulations to the help we give. Few boundaries on what we can offer if we feel called to offer it. I was built for this work. But that fact is strange, and unsettling, and confusing to process. And Lou says “bye-bye” when I leave with the sweetest (almost southern, almost feminine) voice. And it feels like every day now Bram says something that levels me in its comprehension. In its kindness and its depth. In its just plain seeing of the world.

Oh, and we’re selling our little cottage. You know me: I’ll probably handle that transition pretty gracefully, right?





5 thoughts on “seismic and other descriptors

  1. Thank you for finding a little time to write – I’ve missed seeing your words. It sounds amazing & hard and yet more amazing. PS – what is Bram’s construction in the last photo. He looks extremely proud!

  2. Love this. I feel the same about where I work. I work in God’s house too, it’s divine in every sense of the word. It’s magical to share a piece of this good and holy work with others, to walk in every day and know I’m part of creating amazing, wonderful community in honor of G-d, for G-d.

  3. I, too, have missed your words and I’m glad you’re back. And we also love Dinah from Dinosaur Kisses :) So glad your work (in all its forms) is moving you in these life-giving ways.

  4. Not where you probably expected your PhD to go, but how poignant to have your work on vulnerability and loss come around to be in service based on the very idea of willing sacrifice. And for such little ones! It all sounds lovely, even the being apart part. They will grow so much by getting to come back to you with their new adventures now that they are this age.

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