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Multigenerational Mom Muses on Twin Toddlers & Twenty-Something Daughters

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blessings

stop and soak up the magic

It’s a soft, gentle, Sunday morning.. Everything feels full of quiet goodness. Like everything is good enough. Like there’s no need to hurry through anything, just soak up the sweetness while the boys still snore in their beds.

And I do need to.  Need to soak up the sweetness.

Because time is flying by. 

There’s only a few minutes more till the light shifts from magic to mundane.

There’s only a small window left till the occasional tire turns to a steady drone that snuffs out the birdsong.

There’s only a few quick hours till the church bells swell to welcome the congregation.

There are only a few short weeks till summer is over.

There’s only a few short years till the kids are out struggling in this world on their own.

There’s only…

There’s only.

Stop it.

Right now, there is enough. It is enough. Right now.

Here Come the Showings!

This morning, as the mist blankets the ground and the rooster off in the distance sings good morning, I realize there are only so many more weekends where I’ll wake and write on this porch to the magic of Dawn stretching blankets of spun-sugar clouds between her fingers 

Our home goes live today on FMLS — the real estate platform. The random disappearance of our family so the showings can occur will begin – two silly twin boys snagging at our sanity as we try to entertain them without breaking the bank for hours on end. 

This house of ours has been such a wonderful home for us. We came to her when the boys were sixteen months, needing space to roam and room to grow. She has provided that, and so much more. 

I pray she shows well. It hasn’t been easy getting her ready for the world to see. A life well lived isn’t easy to clean up. We’re a cluttered and scattered crew. Full-time jobs and taekwondo and dance classes keep our wheels spinning and our home in perpetual disarray. Then, between homework and showers and Harry Potter read-aloud sessions at night, there’s not a lot of tidy-up time. 

Our lives are what some would call – especially the real estate world — a hot mess. The real estate world has no room for Hot Mess. They need cool, sleek surfaces and calm blank spaces. A house with twin boys has no room for sleek surfaces and blank spaces. This is a paradox that must somehow be overcome.

So Mike and I have spent every stolen second for the better part of a month sweeping legos into baggies, LOL dolls into containers, and stuffing books – SO MANY BOOKS – into boxes. 

And today, for one hot second, our blank spaces and sleek surfaces are shining – and I pray she sells quickly. For so many reasons.

But mostly I pray she meets the family that is perfect for her — a perfectly imperfect family — a comfortably cluttered one, full of growing children ready to build beautiful, messy memories in the shelter of her walls. Because she’s really good at doling out blessings to busy, well-lived lives. 

Let us be a shining, hot mess of an example for you.

Variations on Being Called Home

So, something has happened – something sparkling and silver as a sunrise breaking through cloud cover.

I fell in love with a house — a quiet, steady house, lovely and understated, with a soul for nurturing and a heart that yearns for forever. 

She’s an all-brick ranch, huddled into the hillside of an established, tree-lined neighborhood amidst a hodgepodge of other beautiful homes — gabled colonials, brick saltboxes, sanguine split levels, mid-century moderns. Our grand dame sits close to the base of the hill, a welcoming matriarch eager to pour smiles and love into our family.  

We stumbled upon her unexpectedly. Well, stumbled isn’t quite the word. God dropped us in front of her. He tossed us into her path, our promised land after wandering in the wilderness of my darkest year. We weren’t looking for her, but she found us still.

Whenever traffic is congested at the primary school during drop off, we often cut up the hill on Maple to sidestep the quagmire. As we climbed our way a couple weeks back, we spied a freshly planted FOR SALE sign in the front of this sweet-tempered beauty and were instantly smitten. We booked an appointment for that afternoon and had made an offer by that very night.

She’s a prize more precious than rubies and pearls, this beauty of ours. Comfort and joy made manifest. Light pours through her windows in thick, honeyed ribbons. Sweetness fills her spaces with echoes of the past and dreams of the future. Her flagstone front porch whispers “Come sit in my shade for a spell… or forever more.” And, indeed, she sings to us of a lifetime. Of a lifetime raising our boys to the beat of her heart; of holiday visits with my grown daughters and their families; of summertime vegetable plots and crisp autumn cookouts. 

We fell into her lap with an ease impossible outside of destiny. An impossible catch, but somehow caught. We didn’t do it; God did. He brought us to her and she opened her arms and all the moving pieces slipped into place like only the hand of the Divine can craft. She’s been easy like Sunday morning from the get go. And Heaven knows, I needed some easy.

It’s no secret its been a tough year for me. Dad passed away in November and his death has left me reeling. My siblings and I have been managing his estate. It has been a tender and painful process, sifting through all the bits and pieces (large and small) that were so much a part of his life and ours. Trying to decide what to sell and what to keep has torn at our hearts. Knowing others would be handling the tools he loved and tended, living inside the walls that sheltered him, driving the tractor and truck he so deeply prized… it has all been so very hard. 

There were days it felt so impossible and so – for lack of a better word – vulgar. People pawing over Dad’s things and us allowing it… like we were parceling off the life of our father to the highest bidder. 

Mike and I learned that this Maple Street home housed a similar story. Two daughters have been handling their parents’ estate, a recent double loss, participating in so many of the hard necessaries that we’ve been enduring. When we heard their story, we felt kindred spirits with both the heirs and the home that housed their most precious memories. We were drawn to their parallel tales of grief and beauty, and to the house and her sheltering, nurturing soul.

We knew for certain this was where our destiny lay.

She is indeed a grand dame, with strong bones and a good heart. Her grace and faithfulness has been well-documented in the lives of the family that has come before us. And today she’ll be ours. Today, she’ll begin bearing witness to our own family’s story.

I look forward to recording them with her.

on being sidelined

After four months of being sidelined from life, the isolation is starting to get to me. I feel cut off from humanity, from reality. And I’m having nightmares where friends and buildings are crumbling and falling away; where huge chasms hang between me and everyone else; where I’m left standing alone on something barely larger than a pencil lead.

Pretty sure that pencil lead directly translates into anxiety about our school year. So many differing opinions and data, so much uncertainty.

I do what I can to cope and calm my nerves. I write, I walk, I run, I read, I love on my family. But still, I get ornery sometimes.

Today was one of those days. I was in the surliest of moods. Just ask my husband, who was definitely fielding some “worse” from our “better or worse” vows.

So I took my morning walk to see if Mother Nature could mend my meanness. Even so, I wore my bitterness on my shoulder like a challenge.

She began by trying to dazzle me with a set of ruby crepe myrtle trees keeping sentry halfway up the big hill. The blossoms are full-bodied and top-heavy, like upturned communion goblets spilling claret red wine. Pretty, I thought. But I’m angry and shall not be moved..

Not much farther, I spied a deep green part left in the dew-slicked sod by some foraging animal’s feet. The color contrast was sumptuous, but I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and I was staying there.

Off to my right, the back and forth patter of an oscillating sprinkler over moon white petunias caught my attention. Petals clumped like wet moth wings. I took joy in finding kindred, soggy spirits. I was full up with piss and vinegar.

And then I hit tipping point. A neighbor boy, fresh from his run, sitting on the humped back of the whale-shaped rock at the pool, waiting for the sun to unspool from the gray. He nodded and waved. I said hello in spite of myself. I may have even smiled.

I was coming around.

As I walked, I began looking for the heart-shaped holes scattered in the sidewalks around the neighborhood. There’s a multitude of them — symbols of the passing of time. Erosion, yes — but perseverance too. Proof of beauty in decay. Of love winning. Of hearts hatching, despite — or because of — the hardness of life.

It’s not all bad, I reasoned.

Then I came across a tiny turtle in the road, her patchwork shell glistening. She thought she’d been calculated in her crossing — not many cars out yet. But work trucks and vans were arriving for the new houses going up. She didn’t anticipate those. Nor did she anticipate me, a deus ex machina in black Adidas, come to pluck her off her path and plop her safely in the grass. She hissed (didn’t know they could do that..) and drew in her neck, all piss and vinegar.

I smiled. Maybe that’s what all this has been for me these last few months — a deus ex machina of pandemic proportions has plucked me off my path and sidelined me for a bit — out of some harm’s way I didn’t calculate, anticipate, or understand. And me, all piss and vinegar and far-from-thankful.

I began my descent toward home and the river as the splendor of sunrise unfurled: an apricot, rose petal, nectarine sky. A parfait of fresh fruit and flowers.

In my forty-minute walk, nature had poured her lessons and reminders into me. Of her goodness, her grace, her grind, her perseverance, her pain, and her glory. Especially the glory — the just desserts you will always receive if you believe in a higher cause and are willing to be open and receive.

And lucky for us… even when we’re not.

Even when we’re cranky and mean, with clumped-up, damp spirits from foraging around in the dark, someone or something will be there to lift us up so our hearts can hatch inside the struggle. So apricot, rose petal, nectarine beauty can bloom.

Even then.

The Magnificent Seven

Seven. The number of completion. Of wonders of the world. Of legendary itches. And the number of times I’ve gotten lucky and right in my life: my second husband, four kids, teaching career, writing life.

This summer we are celebrating all of them — the completions, wonders, itches, and all things right in my life. So much has happened — so much life — in the last seven years.

Seven years ago this month we drove out to Dallas from Augusta with Caitlin, a freshly-minted doctor embarking on her residency. She graduates in one week, after receiving one of the finest and most brutal trainings known to medicine.

She’s flourished here, but that doesn’t mean it’s come easy. Dallas has been a painful growing process — lots of pressure, pruning, heat, storms, and fertilizer (so much colorectal content!). But she’s grown and blossomed into a big, beautiful, bodacious surgeon, ready to excise cancer at its roots.

Seven years ago this month, Mike and I drove her to Dallas while embarking on our own life-altering journey. We were in the process of mapping out an IVF schedule, communicating with our fertility specialist to choreograph not one, but two cycle details and dates: my own and our egg donor’s. Seven years later, we have flourishing six-year-old boys.

But these wonders of ours haven’t come easy. It’s been a painful growing process, being the mother of twins at my age. Lots of pressure, pruning, heat, storms and fertilizer (so many diapers!) But the boys eventually potty-trained (finally, at 3!) and learned to sleep(ish) and have grown into big, beautiful saplings, full of potential and wonder.

And even though Mike and I are about to complete our eighth year of marriage, we lost a year of sleep and sanity when the boys were born, so I’m claiming seven In keeping with this theme… I am more in love with him now than ever. He has pulled my heart into the light and shown it how best to flourish. And honestly, it’s come pretty easy. Sure, we’ve had hiccups and spats, but we’ve had so many more blessings and sparks. And they just keep coming. Together, we’re brighter, better, stronger than we could ever be apart. Gosh, how I love him. And gosh, how I love us.

So no, the seven-year-itch I mentioned has nothing to do with our relationship. No, it has to do with my writing life. I’ve been scratching hard at a novel these last few quarantined months, trying to bring it into the light. It’s been simmering under my skin like chiggers for quite some time, nagging away, just begging me to dig at it. And now I’ve begun, I can’t stop. It’s like the harder I scratch the more it hurts — and the better it feels. It’s a growing process. And I’ve given myself another half a year to complete this tickly, prickly gestation and get it birthed, Good Lord willing.

Yes, it’s been seven years and I’m back in Dallas once again, packing up Caitlin’s apartment and unpacking memories, while she packs in a few more surgeries and a good many hard-won, difficult goodbyes.

These seven years have been a whirlwind of goodness, grace, and growth. I am so full of gratitude for the many blessings received along the way — for the completion of Caitlin’s residency, the wonders of our miracle twins, the blessings of my second-born, Bethany’s wedding and the birth of her own beautiful family, the change of scenery in my teaching career, the writing itches that have unearthed my blogging endeavors and my percolating novel.

All the pressures, pruning, heat, storms, and fertilizer of life surely can bless you a bundle. Can’t wait to see what takes root and grows in these next seven years.

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