In The Midst of Hard

Remember when life was easy? When everything went your way all the time and you never felt the burdens of stress or a to-do list or obligations of some sort? When you were absolutely 100 percent care free?

Me either.

But I remember thinking that in the next stage, it would be.

When I was student teaching for my degree in Early Childhood Education, my mentor teacher said something I found so profound that I still remember it to this day; “There is no harder job than the job of growing up.”

I tried to use this in my lesson plans, in my interaction with my students, in my role as caretaker. I tried to remember that even though I know that the dramas of childhood will not be a big deal later, it is a big deal then and that makes that specific part of life hard.

It’s hard to remember babyhood, and even in the carefree days of childhood we are faced with our own burdens of growing, learning, and navigating. It is indeed a hard job, this growing up.

My son already does what so many of us do; he anticipates the next stage. “When I grow up I can drive a car like Mommy and I will drink coffee.”

Isn’t that a part of childhood? Feeling lost while going through the tough stages and holding on to the comforting and hopeful thought, “I can’t wait until…..?”

This isn’t to tell you to cherish the moment because you’ll never have that time back or that kids’ have it so easy and they don’t even know what lies ahead of them, because it’s ok to live in those moments of frailty and fragileness and vulnerability and look back and know they may not have had a significant effect on your Now, but they had a significant effect on your Then.

It’s hard to find your way through growing and changing and homework and friendships and dating and extracurriculars and graduations and boundaries and responsibilities and jobs and marriages and mortgages and moving and parenthood. It’s all hard. I don’t remember a point at which it was all easy. The different levels don’t take away the presence of Hard.

But isn’t this what pushes us further?

“Next year I’ll be a 5th grader!”

“I can’t wait to go to college and have my own space.”

“I’ll be so much less stressed after these finals.”

“I can not wait to be married!”

“This job just has a learning curve.”

“Marriage is really hard.”

“Why didn’t anyone tell me how hard this parenthood thing was going to be?”

“If we had more money we could…..”

And now I’ve heard my mom say, “I just can’t wait to retire. Life will be so much easier then.”

I haven’t really found that any of this gets easier or harder, it just becomes different, but no less real, significant, or difficult.

I have stopped trying to idealize my future and my past. I am not one of those people who will tell you college is the best time of your life or kids just don’t even know what little responsibility they have because I don’t think that’s true. I think it was all hard, to different degrees, but all of similar significance for their time.

I don’t think that when my son goes to school parenting will become easier. I don’t think that my marriage would suddenly be perfect if we had more time or money. I think life is hard, and unpredictable, and nothing if not a constant exercise in the ability to find beauty in inevitable change.

So as I hang up my hat of romanticism and replace it with realism, I subscribe myself to the new task of not focusing on the ever-present Hard. There will never be a time when this is easy. But then, in the midst of the hard, there are moments, however fleeting, of perfection. Those are the moments that drive us to keep going, keep pushing on to what comes next. Because we hope that there will be moments of perfection there, too. A collection of these moments is what creates a life time, but it’s important to be honest about how they were collected. Carefully, with presence and awareness, in the midst of Hard.

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Why I Write

It’s dark here, as the light of the moon casts shadows over the bed.

Toddler breathing and cat purrs form the soundtrack for this particular scene of my life.

It’s a nightly occurrence, the glow of the moon through white cotton curtains, the steady breath of my beautiful boy, and the contented purrs of a cat beside me.

The clock ticks, warning me of the dangerous hour it is approaching and my impending duties of mommy in the morning that will be made so much harder if I don’t surrender to sleep.

But it is here, always here, that my mind becomes alive.

I remember my past, present and future as they all intertwine into a current conversation lulling me away from rest and restoration and into questionings and ponderings.

Sometimes, I revel in this time. This time of me. Sometimes, I dread it. Often, I feel alone.

One night, in this time of me, I stumbled upon a blog. I read posts by a woman who had struggled with her birth experience. For the very first time, I knew I wasn’t the only woman who felt this way.

I spent that night, and many more, pouring over her words and allowing tears to stream down my face as I motionlessly jumped up and down and silently screamed, “I am not alone.”

So I started writing. Writing thoughts more composed than just scribbles in notebooks or notes in the memo section of my phone. I started putting thoughts on paper and screen instead of just narrating them in my mind. I started to open my heart to the vulnerability and bravery that comes with hitting the publish button.

Sometimes, I write stories about my son. I try to capture memories that I want to hold on to forever. I would like for my son to read those one day. I hope they will mean as much to him as they do to me.

But mostly, I write to sort out the collisions of past, present and future that occur at my most fragile time; when I am in the midst of myself.

One day, maybe someone will read these words and they will mean something to them. Maybe one day I will understand them all myself.

And so I write for my vulnerability, my process of grief and self discovery, and my hope that one day these words resonate with someone so that they might say, “I am not alone.”

I started writing to find myself. I continue writing to find you.

Today, I link up with the lovely Galit and Nicole as they ask the question, “Who do you speak for?”

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Words

Words

We’ve been told that sticks and stones may break our bones but words can never hurt us.

But that’s not true is it?

For my bones remain untouched by stones but these words continue to haunt me.

I’ve been told it’s because I’m a woman and I’m too sensitive

But I think it’s just because I’m a person

Who has a memory and a heart

And whose past bleeds into my future.

I think I’ve never seen you throw a stone or wave a stick maliciously,

But I’ve heard your voice behind the words that left me standing vulnerably;

Exposed into the darkness of the daylight and the brightness of the night.

And I see those words encircle me and invade my very self.

I have to remind myself to say “excuse me” and find my way out,

For these days are long and these years are short and your voice still finds ways to follow me.

Even after the sticks have been picked and the stones have been gathered

I find myself here, choosing to break the words back down into letters and cast them away into the alphabet

That I sing to my son every day

So that he may learn words.

But not yours.