The Waiting Place

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I’ve been thinking a lot this week about Glennon Doyle‘s quote, “First the pain, then the waiting, then the rising.” I’m in a period of waiting, and I have to keep reminding my self that the rising always follows the waiting. It really does.
I’m also listening to Jason Isbell’s song, Something to Love, “May you find something you love/ Something to do when you feel like giving up.” I think the something can be profound – like my babies, who absolutely have saved me from giving up – but also a small, every day thing. Like I recently found the most amazing lounge pants from Gap. They’re so soft, and they have pockets, and they’re not too long on my short legs.
Glennon also says that we cannot rescue each other from the pain and waiting. They are sacred, and they are ours, and we should not try to snatch them from each other. Instead, she says, “All we can do is offer relief from this fear: I am all alone. That’s the one fear you can alleviate.”
So here I am, waiting in my Gap joggers, and if you are in pain or waiting too, you’re not alone. Life is hard, sometimes hard down to our bones, hard in a way that changes us. And we are not alone. I see you, and as long as someone sees you, you are not lost.

The First Christa

When I was in college, the president of my university gave a speech that made a lasting impression on me, about how we make choices, and that limits the other choices we can make. I appreciated it because it was really thoughtful and honest, like he was preparing us for adulthood: “You’re going to have to make choices. That’s great! How lucky you are to have choices! When you do make those choices, there are other choices that will no longer be available to you. That’s called growing up.”

I’m in my late 30s now, and I’ve made a lot of choices. With that has come the bittersweetness of knowing (or wondering if) there are things that aren’t available to me anymore. It is bitter in the sense of grieving the loss of things that I thought might be – but aren’t. It is sweet because I have received what I wanted most.

Last night, Mike came home from dinner with a colleague we had both known in CA. He said that she had asked how I was doing, and that he had told her, “She’s busy being the first Christa.”

The first Christa! Ha!! There remain many fewer “first” or “youngest ever” opportunities for me. But Mike sees that I am trying to very carefully create a life that reflects my deepest values and to be the best mother I can be to Emma and Maggie, who have never had any mother ever before. I am trying to not waste a drop of this one wild and precious life.

Being named the first Christa is the best birthday gift I received this week.

And you are the first you! Congratulations!!! You must be so proud. ❤️

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22 year old me in Cambridge, England. It’s one of my favorites, as it was taken at a time when I was trying very hard to become the first Christa.

Patriarchy

This past week has been a stunning display of patriarchy in America. Like many people, I’ve felt personally sucker punched by its acute audacity and cruelty. At the same time, I’ve been thinking about things like the nearly 500 immigrant and refugee children who are still separated from their parents – a stain on our conscience from which we should never recover.

The most accurate description of patriarchy is not men vs. women. It is those with power vs. those with less or without. This is one of the reasons that my upbringing in the Christian faith was the original force behind my deep commitment to push back on patriarchy. Jesus said the first will be last and the last will be first. Jesus sided with those with less power.

When we resist patriarchy, we do so for women, and for our babies, including all the babies in tent cities in Texas and those separated from their mothers and fathers, because all children are our children. We do so for the differently abled and those without access to living wage jobs. We do so for all those with less power.

In her book Memories of God, Roberti Bondi wrote that for the ancient Christian teachers, “humility was about slipping underneath the whole hierarchical social web of judgments by which we limit ourselves and one another in order to love and act fearlessly with power and authority.”

We slip out from patriarchy, we claim power through acts of love, and with that power we bend the arc of the moral universe to justice.

I was never meant to be enough for them.

The most tender and dangerous and important adventure of my life is being a mother. (It is not the most important adventure of every woman’s life, and that is ok!)

As my children grow, my arms must open wider and wider to let them run their own paths. Today, they both expressed a need that, as much as I would have liked to, I couldn’t meet. I felt sad, and I grieved. In both cases, though, someone else stepped in and did for them what I could not do. Someone else nurtured them and loved on them.

A time will come, over and over, when I must trust my children to the world. I am not enough for them. I never will be. I was never meant to be. I have to trust that there are other arms waiting to hug them, other eyes waiting to see them, other hearts waiting to know them.

There was a time when I held their very being. Their breath was mine, and mine was theirs.

That time was never going to last forever. They were always going to have to learn to breathe on their own.

And.

And there is a place outside of time, where I will always hold them, always bear them. I will be to them an anchor to being, to love, to belonging forever.

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I like you just the way you are.

“I like you just the way you are.”

This fall, I framed several drawings that my daughters created when they were younger, like their first self-portrait and the picture of our family that our firstborn made when her younger sister was born. I hung them in the entryway of our house, along with photos of our family and a reminder: “I like you just the way you are.” What a declaration from that revolutionary, Mr. Rogers.

I want my daughters to remember, every day, that they are unconditionally accepted and loved.

Of course, the most powerful reinforcement won’t come from a sign by the door but in how I accept them and how I accept my self. Liking my self just as I am is hard work. I have never attempted anything more radical in my life. Yet it is also the easiest thing there is, because it feels so good and true to my soul. It feels like home.

My word for 2018 is mothering. Since I first saw “Pregnant” appear on a stick in a bathroom stall at a CVS, I have been becoming a mother. Not only to one and then two little girls, but to my self. Mothering is not just one day or one happening. It is not just “Pregnant” on a stick or when you push the baby from your body or first hold the child you have adopted or the first time you decide to be gentle with your self. Mothering is every day. As my body changes, as my children grow and increase their independence, I have to choose again to mother, to like and love and accept.

For me, for now, if I had to summarize mothering in one thought, it would be Mr. Rogers.’

I like you just the way you are. I like me, too.

“You are the champion of everything”

If you need a little cheering up, you should read the Amazon reviews of Allie Brosh’s new book (Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half blog fame). Her book that has been about-to-come-out for almost a year now. Over the past few years, when Allie has disappeared from online for months and months at a time, fans like me (many of whom struggle with depression, as I do and as Allie does), look for her and hope she’s ok.
So, there’s all kinds of amazing reviews for this book that has not yet even been written. I love just how much Allie’s fans love her. And how they, like Allie’s work itself, reflect the kind of humor and heart that make life (whatever it is, as Kurt Vonnegut would say) bearable when it might not otherwise be.
May we all have someone who believes in us as much as these reviewers believe in Allie.