Recently, a friend of mine in a writer’s group invited us to share our thoughts and opinions about the church with her, as she wanted to do a series of essays of different views about the church. Views about the church as a whole; what the church gets right, gets wrong and any and all things in between.
I wrote a piece about why we need church…and specifically why I need church.
Here’s an excerpt:
I cannot express that enough; we need it, I need it. Some Sundays I need it to get through my week with my pre-pre-teen daughter who has strong opinions about all things, including my mothering and down to exactly how her school lunch should be made.
“But it’s so boring,” she complains, that long drawn out drawl of a whine that all mothers live for. I counter with words about how boring can be good for us, make us grow, stretch, and then say “I understand,” remembering a great deal about my church growing up and a countless number of committee meetings, dry sermons, and all the other things I’ve sat through over the years.
There is a children’s book called The Cloudspinner – a book about a boy and the environment. A favorite of both the adults in our family as well as the children. It’s a beautiful book–its message, story, and the theme all wonderfully working together to compliment each other.
One of the wonders of the book (at least for me) is the use of lyrical language and the phrase “Enough is enough and not one stitch more” which reinforces the theme of the story. I’ve thought about that phrase on more than one occasion during the back to school bedlam of emotions that I’m still in the throes of.
One of my friends has a blog called Right Where We Are. It’s a homeschooling blog primarily, with some personal insight on her family and joys and the struggles of what it means to be a family. Meaning: A good mix of the pain and the beauty of life.
While not new to the school rodeo (and no new transitions with new schools, or changes or anything new of note) I’ve been holding these phrases close, as it perfectly describes my feelings about life at the moment. Well, at least in my tiny little hemisphere of writing, children, family and laundry. While I’m not going through any new transitions or changes or anything notable personally, these phrases–not one stitch more and right where we are–have been the anthem to what I feel lately. Meaning: I can’t feel or be what I want to be until I acknowledge where I am.
Which for the past three weeks apparently translates to eating everything in the house that’s not nailed down.
Add in a couple of ice cream treats too, because hey–summer’s ending. Or a chocolate piece or three because – well, children and bedtime. Sometimes you have to bring in reinforcements. Especially when bedtime is a hot mess, sometimes nothing comforts or heals quite like a square of dark chocolate.
I’ve been admonishing myself these past weeks; after all, I’m on a plan! I need to take care of my health! Liz, you don’t do this! You need to clean up your act and return to the familiar routine that includes more fruit than say, Oreos. Zucchinis over frappuccinos!
And yet in all of this I’ve realized: This is right where I’m at emotionally.
That sometimes, emotionally, you can’t move on until you see the landscape of where you are. And apparently, that landscape involves cookies and other comforts for me. Which didn’t stop, or couldn’t stop for that matter, until I sat down with coffee and quiet a couple of days ago and thought about all the feelings (justifiable or not) that the returning to the school year brings out in me.
Regardless of whether or not I’m the actual person returning to school.
I’ve found that for me, I have to sit quietly to slow down enough to catch with my emotions (mine tend to run wild and free like unbridled ponies unless I help corral them) and remember that each one of them, crazy and strange as they are, are ok. And whether or not it’s “right” to have this specific emotion for such a minor event as back to school – it’s ok. Transitions–big or small–effect everyone differently.
And back to school – the bedlam and chaos that ensues from a disruption of the summer routine and involves me getting my act together (and my pants on) much sooner than I’d like or am ready for – well, apparently I need treats and coffee and time to finally realize that I’m a bit emotional about the passing of time and need a moment to catch up with those thoughts.
One will delay bedtime until midnight; fight the good fight with water requests, more stories demands and compliments aplenty meant to lure parents back into One’s bedroom.
Two will yawn and say “I’m tired” at 6:30p, ask to read, and then summons which parent shall put Two to bed.
One will eat all the pizza the two hollow legs and the apparent drum of One’s body can handle while wanting for candy.
Two will eat three minuscule bites of pizza, declare “I’m done” and proceed to request grapes, and eschews chocolate if tummy is too full.
One didn’t want to brush teeth today because One didn’t see the purpose; a helpful reminder that only dragons, not friends, appreciate morning breath finally changed One’s mood, with a mild sulk involved.
Two asked when we could brush teeth.
One still clings to nighttime rhythms; wants to be comforted and coddled; Two looks at me, asks for a kiss and says “time to go.”
Two children. One family. Same parents. Same womb.
The time of year I breathe a collective sigh of relief in anticipation of cooler weather coming soon and getting the kids back in school. Which, is a totally different sigh of relief that may or may not involve drinking hot, steamy coffee. ALL.by.myself.
Sometimes it takes a lot to take me to my happy place. And sometimes it takes just a little coffee and some quiet.
Meanwhile, back to school is also back to seriousness for me. I’m already in the trenches, desperate to get children back to their pre-summer routines (joke’s on mom, really). While the kids try to work a coup d’etat on bedtime, I’m getting myself in back to school mode – serious attempts with my writing, blogging, and building this little thing called a writing career.
All that to say this: coming soon, a whopping twice a month, you’ll see new posts.
As fascinating as my child calling a peacock a mohawk as well as the update on what I cleaned this week, perhaps. But hey! At least it’s not an update about how slow the grass grows…right?! And yes, perhaps now’s a good time as ever to check that subscribe option to see if you really want to follow all my updates. Grass included.
Anyways, so cheers to the new year, the new routine, and perhaps, just perhaps, mama getting a tad more time (and brain cells) all to herself.
Last note – I’ll be aiming to blog (about anything and everything, yes…so buckle up your seatbelts) about twice a month, on the 1st and the 15th.
Meanwhile, I’m daydreaming about new notebooks and smelling the hint of freshly-sharpened pencils in the air. You too, friend?
Motherhood is a progressive feast, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Sure, you can have it all. Just like you can at a progressive feast-you can have it all if you don’t eat too much at one place. You eventually have it all, the long and short of it, the braised ribs and soufflés, just not all at once, in one spot. Nothing is truer of that then motherhood.
All together frustrating and beautiful at once, this “have it all” bite by bite through life.
Its similarities are astounding: that meatball skewer appetizer at one house wasn’t your cup of tea, and neither was the terrible twos. The pork loin roast – a delicious slice gone in an instant – your daughter at six years old. The delectable pear dessert that was immeasurably satisfying and deeply pleasurable? The rocking chair years, the baby giggles, those fat, dimpled knees.
I don’t know about you, but I get lost in these woods sometimes, the ones that tell me I’m supposed to “have it all.” The thing is, though, only after giving up my big time career have I come to realize I have it all already. I’m just choosing what’s important to me in this season of my life, my family’s life.
We can have it all, eventually. (Italics emphasis for me, really as I’m reminding myself of this.) Just like my writing career – as much as I’d like an illuminating, fast-paced writing career, I can only build small towers at a time; small blocks of work and articles, one bite, one nap time at a time. I am still in the baby phase, a career growing at the same pace (or slower, if I’m being honest here) as my family.
And maybe eventually, I can say I was a best selling writer, an author, someone who writes a regular column.
But right now?
I’m still working slowly through the appetizers savoring each mouthful, most of which are pretty good.
Author’s note: I’m trying my hardest to consistently post on my site. Which is a lot harder than I thought, being home now.
Which means that today, with little time to actually write, I’m posting something from the archive. Which you’ve probably never seen. Since it’s in the archive of my old drafts. You’re welcome. And enjoy the un-edited random thoughts on life, God, gratitude and airplanes.
Thank you Lord, for not leaving me how you found me.
Thank you Lord, for long trips, soft beds and people I love to work with yet at times cannot stand.
Thanks you for little baby pudgy knees, for toddler tantrums, for hearty chuckling child laughter and toddler woes and cries.
Thank you for the things I cannot say thank you enough for, the things that seem thankless and a little bit like hell on earth like car rental shuttle buses, tangles, exhaustion and all the small irritating things that do not go my way.
Thank you for the things I cannot change.
Thank you for the gift of figuring out what my gift is.
Thank you for books, recovery, slippers, hot tea, chocolate. For my husband to snuggle next to at night, for all the things that are beautifully imperfect and still need a little work, including me.
And thank you for the discipline to resist ordering from Sky Mall. Although truthfully there were about three things in there that I truly wanted and I’m not so sure I’m proud of that.
Because we all need a diet that can work with our lifestyle. And a little humor in the midst of upcoming Swimsuit Season as well.
The Mom Diet
Also known as how to keep you at a consistent, constant weight!
Note: Start on a Monday.
Breakfast: Coffee with cream
That one last yogurt that’s left in the fridge
Lunch: Pure, untouched pb and j sandwich crusts
3 leftover goldfish
Dinner: Sweet potatoes and grilled chicken.
Eat three portions, because, rebellion from the troops about eating food that’s “good for us.”
Exercise: Loudly encouraging eating our dinner that’s “good for us.”
A square of stashed chocolate. Before 9am.
Lunch: The soup no one wanted to eat.
Cast off vegetables from last night.
Raisins for snack and mostly dinner too, since you’re overdue for the grocery store.
Taming the beasts who do not want to eat leftovers
Bathing the children who do not want to be bathed
Leftover party favor cookie from kid birthday party last weekend
At the store, hit up the samples: Shot glass cup of a new Dorito flavor, yogurt raisins from purse, and a communion cup’s worth of the new overtly marketed Orange Berry organic juice from the sample man at Kroger.
Dinner: the piece of pizza that fell on the floor.
The salad that was declared too many “soggy leaves”
Wine. Lots of wine.
Exercise: Running after children at park
Breakfast: Coffee and wine regret
Lunch: Turkey cheese rollups, air popped popcorn, mini baby carrots, and gummis.
More or less, your toddler’s lunch. That he more or less did not eat. Because of all the vivid, healthy colors.
Snack: Sand in the face from the afternoon trip to the park.
Dinner: Spaghetti squash casserole that you loved. And lovingly ate.
While everyone took tiny bits and drank at least three cups of milk (or beer) instead.
Exercise: “dancing” at the library story time hour
Breakfast: Coffee. Mad rush out the door for drop-off, so no time for breakfast.
Lunch: Mini kid food, from tiny tray at Big Kid’s cafeteria, and tinier chair to sit on. This is good. This overweight elf feeling could work to your advantage to remind you to lose some weight!
Snack: Home-baked cookies for everyone!
Dinner: Breakfast for dinner. Since you didn’t have any breakfast earlier. And don’t have to cook.
Breakfast: Oatmeal and berries. Green tea and virtue.
Lunch: Picinic in the park. Your own sandwich, chips, and mini carrots. Plus everyone else’s sandwich crusts, carrots. Juice box.
Snack: None. Forgot to bring snack to GS troop function.
Your daughter’s disappointed and has a mad scowl. That may last a lifetime. Or at least a solid two weeks.
Dinner: Random assortment of mini-appetizers and desserts from two separate birthday/celebration parties.
Breakfast: Husband wakes up, makes coffee, wrangles children and flips pancakes.
Joy, divine joy and hot coffee for breakfast.
Lunch: Sunday dinner at in-laws. YES. ALL the things. Including ROLLS.
Snack: Half of the chocolate bar no one knows about.
Dinner: French meal. Or, grapes, bread with butter, and several cheese selections.
Recipe also called Don’t Have Enough Energy to Cook Tonight.
Net weight gain/loss: Lose 7lbs
Breakfast: Green tea and oatmeal.
Then coffee. And chocolate.
Lunch: Cottage cheese, banana and coffee.
Snack: Chips. Whoops.
Dinner: Half drive-thru, half homemade: One burger, two mini bags of mini carrots, one (and a half of the toddler’s) French fries. Gummis.
Exercise: Running late to soccer practice.
A leftover mini quiche that no one but you loved.
Lunch: One piece of cheese, a handful of spinach leaves and other assorted rejected sandwich parts. The second half of a banana.
Snack: Chocolate. In the guest bathroom so no one hears you and/or makes a comment about it.
Dinner: The Good Mother special: Grilled chicken, peas and salad.
Exercise: Running after the kid that wanted to run away from the park.
Breakfast: Coffee. Lots of coffee.
Last crumbly bits of Cheerios, and milk dregs.
Lunch: Out. Can’t remember if you ate lunch at home, so soup, salad and sandwich while you’re out (glorious!) and the sitter is watching the little one.
Dinner: Pork chops, mac and cheese, squash.
Eat pork chops, miss out on the mac and cheese since kids ate all of it. Eat squash to your heart’s content. Because it was rejected as “part of dinner.”
Exercise: The gym. Finally.
Breakfast: The hot water heater broke, the kids are a cranky mess and “we” forgot a science project and a book report. Special Coffee Day, a la Venti Mocha Frappucino with whip on the top yes, and a cake pop.
Lunch: Crackers and cheese with cranky toddler.
Snack: Cheetos with a side of wood chips in the park.
Dinner: Various casserole samples and dessert from Bible Study.
Exercise: The heart quickening exercise of stress, and then bigger stress of trying to let the stress go.
Donuts on the way home from drop-off.
Lunch: Turkey roll up and fruit.
Snack: Smoothies and errands in the car.
Dinner: Who cares? Date night! Out of the house! Drinks! Dessert!
Breakfast: Hangover, so coffee. And buttery IHOP deliciousness for everyone else.
Late lunch: Scrap of pizza, half an orange and the cupcake bottom from soccer team party.
Dinner: Your weight in flour and cheese products from the local Italian place in town.
Exercise: Reviewing the estimate for replacing the hot water heater, followed by fainting.
Breakfast: Coffee. Random, non-chocolate chip granola bar shoved in mouth while herding children into car.
Lunch: Baked potatoes and fruit.
Snack: Sundae on a Sunday.
Dinner: Lasagna and garlic bread, just enough time to fling in the oven before the whole bedtime/bath routine/debates start.
Exercise: Getting everyone to church on time, so sweating and yelling .
Net weight gain/loss: Gain 11lbs
Breakfast: Coffee. Toast crusts for breakfast accompanied by a shot glass of milk since apparently you’re out of clean dishes, milk and apparently, anything resembling a proper meal with real portion sizes.
Lunch: The all-organic vegetable dish that was made just for the little one. Who didn’t eat it all.
Dinner: Coffee and sighs while the kids argue it out about if they would rather have to eat snot or ear wax for dinner. Daydreams of another date night soon with dining room buzz so loud you can’t hear anyone else’s conversation. And especially not conversations about ear wax.
Exercise: Running to the car to get into the carpool lane on time.
Breakfast: Coffee and the half of a banana deemed “too yucky.”
Lunch: Well-balanced lunch out of half of a grilled chicken breast, half of a serving of green beans and 3 bites of a dessert at Board of Directors meeting. Because you swore you read that they provided childcare at this meeting, but you were wrong. Spend other “fine dining” experience chasing little one and shushing.
Snack: Reminiscing about those missed bites of dessert all afternoon.
Exercise: Walk to park.
Snack: Soccer treat day: Eat only one fruit snack pack and 3 mini Goldfish packs before doling out to kids. Feel like epic self-disciplined goddess.
Dinner: Dinosaur chicken nuggets for everyone! Mac and cheese on the house!
Exercise: Trying to fit into last year’s shorts. Sweating, swearing.
Breakfast: Donuts with Dad, so luxurious early a.m. omelet, alone before toddler wakes up.
Green tea because you are a Healthy Lady.
Lunch: Leftover snubbed vegetables from last night’s dinner.
Kid-sized applesauce for snack. Time to run to the store. Again.
Dinner: Netflix, popcorn, pizza and night.
Exercise: Trying to calm the loud tantrums coming from your cart at the store.
Day 18: (Almost there!)
Breakfast: Coffee. Forget to eat breakfast due to epic meltdown about shoelaces and walking to school.
Lunch: Chick Fil A – one third portion of a salad since your toddler is apparently going through a growth spurt.
Snack: Coffee. Three jelly beans shared with you from daughter’s school event.
Dinner: Meatloaf, cornbread, and green beans. Because you finally got it together, did the dishes and went to the store.
Breakfast: Coffee. Green Tea. A handful of vitamins chugged down with OJ. Oatmeal. With chocolate. Because you are an adult and can make those sorts of decisions.
Snack: An apple with three bites taken out of it. Coffee cake.
Lunch: Leftover soup that didn’t have the goldfish on top of it.
Snack: A Ho-Ho from the Ho-Ho stash that no one knows about. Yet.
Dinner: Pizza and exhaustion.
Breakfast: Healthy quiche because you got up early. And alone. Also because no one had an early a.m. game and/or practice today.
Lunch: Chili’s of course. And half eaten portions of kid’s menu broccoli, rice and mashed potatoes.
Soccer treat day: Eat only one fruit snack pack and 3 mini Goldfish packs before doling out to kids. Feel like epic self-disciplined goddess.
Dinner: Steak, wine and peace. Make note to love husband the rest of your life.
Day 21: (Hooray! You made it!)
Breakfast: Half a cold coffee and fruit roll-up in the car. Ain’t no one got time for a peaceful breakfast when everyone has to look nice AND be ready at the same time for church.
Lunch: Drive-thru tacos and relief.
Snack: Chips. Everyone’s asleep and no one can hear you. Or bother you.
Dinner: Half of a piece of supposedly “perfect” fried chicken. Recipe fail.
Late night snack: half of a pizza. Since you are still hungry from the earlier fail and need to go to the store again.
Net weight gain/loss: Lose 4lbs
Congratulations! You did it for 21 days! You should feel recharged and ready for the pool. If you’ve followed the diet faithfully, you should see something similar to these results:
Net loss: 0 lbs.
Net gain: 0 lbs.
Back to original weight!
See how easy it is to maintaining your weight for 21 days?! Hooray for you!