Every parent can relate to this scenario: I come home from a productive but tiring afternoon in the office. I'm excited to decompress and shove some food in my face...but then I open the door to A MAELSTROM OF CHAOS AND NEED. I am hit in the face by the banshee cries of three separate humans, 27 different questions and the faintest whiff of poop. My very first thought is:
"NO -I CANNOT- I AM DEPLETED."
But I've been working on my thought life lately. Separating myself from my swirling emotions and rapid-fire inner dialogue. I've been trying to remember to 'take every thought captive'. So I grabbed that thought, carried it into the next room and examined it, holding it up to the Light. An inquisition of sorts.
Hello, little thought. Where did you come from? Are you real or not real?
Because – elementary as this may seem – I am still learning that I have choices when it comes to my thoughts. Just like emotions, thoughts are not within my control. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT I AM WITHIN THEIR CONTROL. Thoughts come and go but their autonomy doesn’t necessarily make them legitimate.
I have found this to be very important. I think the Biblical directive to take our thoughts captive is an accurate visual. I picture these thoughts like little fireflies, buzzing across my headspace. They’re smaller than me. Annoying and quick, but well within my ability to capture. I can clap them into a mason jar and have a good look.
So this thought that consumed me upon entrance to my kitchen – “I CANNOT. I AM DEPLETED.” I remembered that it was just like a bug : separate, small, observable. I clapped it into a jar and took a good look.
Are you true or false?
I compared it to the Truth I’ve memorized, God’s promises I’ve ingested…and I decided this one was false and therefore not welcome.
I thought the biggest step would be learning not to quit. I am an expert quitter - always have been. I have this bad habit of over-achieving or over-committing or overreaching (with plenty of self-criticism shmeared on for motivation) until I burn out and then cry and throw up my hands and make sweeping declarations about quitting and laying down and sleeping for a week. This has been my pattern for a long time, but most especially since I became a mom and lost a lot of my precious, previously-taken-for-granted alone time.
"You can't control your emotions, but you can control your behavior."
Aidah is a girl with Big Feelings. She gets that from me, along with her freckles and aversion to strangers. But Aidah has the added sparkle of her dad’s Big Responses. Drew’s booming voice and animated reactions and heightened performer persona all play out on a grand scale when they mix with my Big Feelings in her tiny little body. We see a lot of meltdowns and tears and wailing and SWEEPING DECLARATIONS from our girl. Which is usually pretty funny and fairly harmless…but it’s still our responsibility to help her navigate that and grow up to be a functioning human.
And it’s really complex to help a three-year-old to see the distinction between her feelings and her behavior. To help her see that we are ONLY disapproving of the behavior. I always feel kind of hypocritical when we have these chats because these are lessons I'm still learning.
You with the tired smile and the callus of expectation on her heart. It's been a while in this season, hasn't it? It's okay to feel raggedy and forlorn. You've been a trooper.
Feel all of those blue feelings. Let them break over you and let them be what they are: evidence of hope. Of a soul turned toward the sun. You want something. You're passionate about it - enough so that you nudged your tender little heart out there on the front lines.
Take a minute and honor the courage that takes. Vulnerability is a choice, even if it's only made silently, amidst your private petitions tossed Heavenward.
Now, Braveheart, let's weed out the truths from the lies.
I’ve been reading Exodus and lately, I’m trudging through God’s detailed instructions to Moses on how to build the tabernacle – the place where He would come and dwell with His people. Usually, I skim through these descriptions
Mhm- a cubit of acacia and an...ephod?... Yes, I’m perfectly familiar with these terms.
But this time around, I’m hung up on the luxurious detail God wants poured into this tent. I mean, the instructions for the tabernacle go beyond the sort of respectful Sunday best that I’m familiar with. Way beyond. This thing is LAVISH. It is decked out. Versailles-level extravagance.
Holy Week is a study in paradox. The somber and the celebratory.
I know many people politely pay their respects to Good Friday, impatient to get to the explosion of praise on Sunday. These people want to celebrate and give thanks for the life and abundance they are experiencing in their season. I get that and I think it’s wonderful – I’ve been there. I am there, in a way.
Last year, I visited a different camp. I spent last Good Friday as a Mourner. (I suppose I always will, in a way.) And to the people in that group who resonate terribly with this ‘holiday’, who recognize all-too-well the specter of death, the hope extinguished, the DARKNESS…I am so sorry you’re in that place. I know (I’ve felt) that He promises to be near to the brokenhearted and crushed in Spirit. But that doesn’t make it much easier, does it?
But there’s a third group. The Saturday people, often overlooked in the church. I think it’s because we make projects out of the Friday people and leaders out of the Sunday people. But what about the people in that bleak and weary middle. Who have heard the repeated promises of redemption and are just…waiting. Who commiserate with the Mourners and can’t help but grin at the Sunday celebrators, but go home to their threadbare resolve.
This is the story of my very best Saturday. But I won’t ever forget the time I spent in that waiting place.
Several of you have asked if there is a story behind Noah's name.
Oh, guys - you know me so well. OF COURSE THERE IS.
I've told you before that grief is exhausting. In the early days, it ate up SO MUCH of my emotional bandwidth, leaving me with this strange feeling of scarcity. I would acknowledge that my threshold was necessarily low, and end up doling out my emotions with pinching thriftiness.
A little for you, a little for that. Whoops, I anticipate a tough weekend coming up, so I can't have this conversation right now.
So when my best friend Danielle asked me if we were trying to have another baby, it took me a while to come up with the words to text back.
I....don't...can't...no know how to words I think about that...
**I feel the need to clarify that the majority of this post was written when we first moved to Nashville and I was not nursing a newborn...
"Let's drink tequila and talk about the universe."
This is how I wish I could make friends in my new city. When I see that girl with sick dreadlocks making amazing watercolors in the corner of the cafe or pass the cool moms at the farmer's market whose kids dress better than I do...I wish I could skip the whole introduction/small talk/feel each other out and get right to the point.
So what do you think about God's interaction with the space time continuum?
I like to think that I am not typically a bandwagoner. I resisted the acid wash revival trend and I don't like pumpkin flavored drinks and I still don't think Seinfeld is funny.
But on the occasion that I do jump on a bandwagon, I make sure to try and drag everyone on with me. (I'm not #basic, you're just dumb). YOU'RE NOT WEARING HIGH WAISTED PANTS!? WHAT, DO YOU HATE YOUR INTESTINES OR DO YOU SIMPLY ENJOY THE SMALL MORTIFYING EXERCISE OF TUCKING YOUR BELLY INTO YOUR WAISTBAND BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN?
That being said, I am ready to announce my #wordfor2018. Yes, thank you for waiting on the edge of your seat.
Why are you wearing a tux? .
It’s after six. What am I, a farmer?
@skellahhh leave it to you and Jaye to throw the most breathtakingly elegant wedding...that was somehow also an absolute banger. I’m sorry I forgot my shoes and wore my dumb boots to your classy event. Xo congratulations I love your love.
We’ve been pals for over ten years and live all over the country and spent most of our visit wrangling our mangy herd of wild children. A lot has changed but mostly it hasn’t. For example, B still bosses us into the best light for pictures, Yell still looks the most put together while Beeg and I still think a couple of beanies can make up for our lack of showers. (And @lisaabramowski is working hard and will show up any minute with a killer outfit, a hilarious story and a gallon of wine.) .
I LOVE BOSTON AND I LOVE OLD FRIENDS AND I LOVE FALL.
And the award for Most Obscure Character from the Most Obscure Kids Movie goes to...Aidah, who has been beside herself with excitement to dazzle you all as Linda Gunderson With her Pet Bird, Blu. .
For weeks now, I have been dying over this frequent exchange:
Random adult: and what are you going to be for Halloween?
Aidah: Linda Gunderson!
Aidah: LINDA GUNDERSON!!! RA: ummm haha oh...I don’t know who that is...
Aidah: (in disbelief and pity) Linda Guuuunderson...from Rio!
RA: Rio? What’s that?
Me: Rio was that kids movie about birds...came out about a decade ago...
RA: Oh right! So you’re going to be a bird!!! Aidah: NO.LINDA GUNDERSON.
Me: Linda was one of the birds’ owners...
Occasionally, a parent or two will remember that Linda is the one who dances up on the float at Carneval. And since Aidah is notoriously fancy, they will assume she’s going to wear the sparkly bird costume from that scene. But no, no. Aidah wanted to be Linda at Work. .
Because in the first few minutes of the movie, we see Linda hard at work...at a bookstore. So there you have it. .
$7 glasses on amazon and a secondhand bird costume for Noey? Yup. Obscure costumes forever.
Look at this picture. Look how happy I am. Oh, Marri. Live it up and enjoy your time. Little do you know that later in the day, your laughter will FALTER. You will finish a 40 minute stint as the Resident Parent in the bounce castle. As you attempt to graciously slide out of the impossibly small bounce house opening, your faux leather pants will rub against the inflatable ramp and make a loud fart sound. All of the children will laugh, but none harder than your own daughter, who will point at you and fall over giggling. You will struggle through the opening, only to produce more farting sounds. When you finally burst through, hair a static mess and somehow breathless from the effort, you will notice that there is a small group of Other Parents waiting off to the side, politely ignoring your fart-struggle. You will inexplicably WAVE at them, 4 feet away from you and silently power walk away before realizing you are still barefoot. .
Don’t let this picture fool you. Yes, they are even more adorable in real life... but they were definitely giggling about eating boogers as they walked. And Penny can identify all kinds of edible plants which they foraged with their cute little basket. And Aidah tucked her dress into her undies to climb down the muddy riverbank. These damsels are not in distress (until it’s time to say goodbye to each other, of course) they are brilliant and brave and sassy and freakishly strong. Their capability and confidence makes me so proud. #pennyandaidahforpresident
I'm in our backyard office, spying on Drew, who appears to be taking micronaps amidst his enthusiastic participation in Aidah's latest imagination game: Linda Gunderson Drives to Carnival but Goes Too Fast and the Police Guy Catches Her. (She's inside the wicker basket aka Linda's car).
I just love them to pieces.
I think it's dumb when people gush over dads who are...parenting. If I'm grocery shopping with my kids or eating with them at a restaurant or playing in the front yard, most people don't think twice. But when Drew does these things, it's adorable and heroic. Come on. That's dumb. There are no participation trophies when it comes to parenting. .
But I'm also not one to ignore a good thing when I've got it. So here's to the dads who don't expect a prize for DOING THEIR JOB. The dads who calm the nightmares and wipe the bums and listen to Moana on repeat and muster enthusiasm for the millionth iteration of the same knock-knock joke. I know firsthand that it gets tedious and exhausting. But, then again, I also know firsthand how far a "thank you" goes. .
Thank you, Drew Straton for being my partner. Sometimes I feel stretched too thin and I have to remind myself that I'm a working mom - I'm living two dreams at once. So thank you for being the Home Parent today so I could be the Work Parent today. Micronap away, you beautiful man.
Aidah (out of nowhere): Anyways, Calvin and I will date for a while before we get married.
Me: What’s dating?
Aidah: (whispering) I wear a fancy yellow dress and he feeds me dinner. Then we drive 20 miles. Calvin drives so I can sleep.
I have nothing left to teach you. Go forth, you are ready. #aidah_hope #theaidahandcalvinshow
Noey No Lips has been doing this silly smile since she was born. We have no idea why she does it but it makes me laugh every time. I just love this grimy little chunk monster.
“Let’s just go for a quick ride, Mar. I gotta stretch these skinny legs because I’m a skinny stinker. Sure is buggy tonight though. I’ll wear my goggles so I don’t get beetles in my eyelids.” .
Sometimes I preemptively grieve for the day some kid on the bus or playground tells her she’s weird and she starts trying to muffle that beautiful mind of hers. I tell her all the time that I just want to be more like her. I want to remember how to use my purest imagination and be present in my feelings and wear whatever brings me delight. For me, parenthood is a constant, symbiotic exchange of learning and unlearning. She wants so badly to be like me and I just laugh because I’m trying to shed layers of me to get back to being her. .
"I've read that money trouble and child loss are the leading causes for divorce. It is not lost on me how faithfully and fully we were carried through this season. How lavish the simple space to breathe truly is. .
They said "the first year is the hardest." They said "grief is like backwards labor, the pains get weaker and further apart." They said we'd walk through this valley. .
And they say that salt water heals all things - a good cry or ocean water should set you right in the end. This week I have had more than my fair share of both. .
And I'm just so grateful."
Feeling teary about this post I wrote last year and all of the healing, hardship and holiness that has taken place since then. Octobers will always have a very special place in my heart. (link in bio or just go to marikoclark.com/blog/octobers )