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Multigenerational Mom Muses on Twin Toddlers & Twenty-Something Daughters

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blessings

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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