Category: marriage (page 1 of 5)

Between Worlds

I’ve had a tab open in my browser for months now. I don’t read it a lot, but I do see it frequently, and when I do  I am reminded: other worlds await. I have felt this past year that I have been between worlds. There were so many parts of my life that were going so well just over a year ago. I was sure I was finally finding my groove as a writer, feeling comfortable as a mother, finding confidence in myself and my relationships.

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And then, both suddenly and slowly, that world ended.

*Wipe your tears

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It’s not the end of the world.

It’s the end of a world.

The week after I miscarried (last November), I begged off a writing assignment I had previously accepted. I lost the many trains of thought I was trying to follow into interesting and thoughtful essays. I would sit in front of a blank page and realize it was reflecting my mind and heart back at me. There was nothing there. Nothing to share. I have yet to find my groove or find even a thread that I can follow back to where I was and what I was doing.

It’s the end of the world

you’ve known.

Other worlds await you.

Worlds you’ll inhabit.

Worlds you’ll create.

But in the blank space, there are important things I feel like I have learned about motherhood this past year. For example, washing the dishes is actually not part of the job description. I don’t mind letting them sit while I join in the fun and games for a little while. And that has solved two problems: feeling resentful that everyone else gets to have fun while I have to work, and feeling guilty that I am a mom who is always around, but not always present.

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I have also made an effort to be more forthcoming and assertive in approaching difficult topics with the kids. They should hear things from me and Micah, and know that we are open to talking about anything and everything. We’ve had chats about miscarriage and the various ways babies can be born—surgically or naturally—in the past couple of weeks.  I hope that this lets my kids see me as a person who knows things and feels things.

However, I also look at my kids these days and see how chummy they are, how well they play (and fight) together, and I worry about this baby that is way behind my projected/hoped for schedule. Will he be part of the crew? Or always too little, too young to be included. I look at pictures of the 3 of them, and I can’t imagine another child breaking into that fraternity, and I worry for him, and I think of what might have been.

thehuddle

Mourn now,

my child

Mourn this world

coming to an end.

Grieve the dreams

that will never come to be.

And if my kids’ relationships cause me angst, so do many of my other relationships. I gave myself a pass this year on so many things—including interacting with people. I had no energy for anyone or anything. And so I drifted. I can see and feel the distance in many of my relationships—and in my work, and in my hopes.

I see it and think of it and I wonder how I’m ever going to bridge the gap, to get back to where I was, or even to somewhere better. It feels like too much and I wonder if maybe I’ve just stopped drifting, but I’ll never get up the strength to build anything new, to build any momentum, to become anything new or to go anywhere other than where I am.

I try to remind myself that I have to give it time. I may not still be falling apart or falling away, but it takes time to rebuild, and especially if I am to grow into something stronger and better.

After every apocalypse

you will rise again,

my child.

One world ends,

another begins.

I think of that passage from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, about the house that is being remodeled, about walls being knocked down, new wings and towers and courtyards being built. About becoming a palace. I think of that, and I am comforted, but I also wonder: what if it never gets done? What if the walls get knocked down, but they never get rebuilt? What if the roof is always leaky, the drains are still backed up, and everyone agrees it was better off the way it was before?

After this year of sadness

there’ll be an ascension,

the joy tomorrow

is already inside

the grief today.

I have been waiting and hoping for signs that I am being rebuilt, that my life and my relationships and my family and my work will not suffer permanent, irreparable damage from this past year. I have a seriously hard time imagining myself ever saying, “It all worked out for the best,” even though I can imagine seriously good things rising from the rubble.

But I have also realized that if good things are going to come, if I am going to stop drifting, I will need to pick up the slack. It will take work. And sacrifice. I will need vision and inspiration. And commitment and patience. Lots and lots of patience.

With the new year dawning, I feel more and more determined to find what other worlds are out there, what other places I will find and people I will be, what my relationships will become. I am imagining what it will look like, and gathering my courage to go after it.

elephantrock

Other worlds

await.

Worlds that you’ll make

with your hands.

Dreams of seeds

watered with the now tears. 

I know so many women who have been through similar experiences, whose lives have taken unexpected turns, whose hopes have fallen apart. I see them and I see that life can and does go on, that hearts are healed, that flowers still bloom after even the harshest winters. I am grateful for their lives, for the world they belonged to before they came into mine, a different being. And I hope that, like them, I can move forward. Begin again. Try again. Grow again.

 

*poem by Omid Safi

Sometimes You’re the Kite, Sometimes You’re the Anchor

It’s really not fair. Anyone can see that.

It’s not fair that Micah gets to go to work each day, that it matters what he wears or if he has bedhead. It’s not fair that he gets to sit in meetings where he shares ideas and people listen, that they appreciate his expertise, that they will take his advice.

He doesn’t live his life with a capricious and mischievous two-year-old as a constant companion, a little being who can turn a simple trip to the grocery store into an epic battle of wills. He can have insightful conversations with the people he spends his days with. He doesn’t have to remind his co-workers 7 times in a hour to sit and do their work, or revoke various privileges when they once again lose focus and start chasing each other and fighting over a stuffed monkey.

It must be nice, I think, to be compensated and appreciated. To be able to be promoted. To switch jobs if necessary.
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But then again, it’s really not fair and anyone can see that.

It’s not fair that I can wear my pjs all day and it would be totally appropriate. It’s not fair that I can sit and watch “Clifford The Big Red Dog” in the name of quality bonding time. It’s not fair that I can write whatever I want and work on whatever projects interest me the most.

I don’t have to worry about making enough money to take care of the family. I don’t have to set my own ideas aside or refashion my creative impulses to fit somebody else’s vision. I don’t have the pressure of so many deadlines or the worry of what could happen if I didn’t make them.

And I’m sure he thinks it must be nice to have the best hours of the day open to whatever I want: a run in the park, a get-together with friends, a lazy day of reading and playing make-believe.

Sometimes it feels like I am the anchor to Micah’s kite, letting him soar up above the trees where he can see spectacular views and feel the rush of the wind in his hair. It feels like I’m stuck on the ground, nothing to see, nothing to do but watch and wonder what it’s like up there.

But other times, I feel like I am the kite: flying, diving, tossed about. Beautiful views, yes, and exhilarating speed. But a bit unsteady and unsure. It must be nice, I think, to be on solid ground and surrounded by people and things, to be able to sit and relax for a bit, instead of always being pushed around.

The truth is that sometimes I am the kite, and sometimes I’m the anchor. And sometimes Micah is the anchor and sometimes he’s the kite. Sometimes we are a little bit of both. And sometimes it feels like we are both caught in the tree, tangled and trapped without any feet on the ground or any heads in the sky.

But that is the price of marriage and family and love and life. And it’s boring and it’s crazy and it’s a drag and it’s a party. And I’ll take it any day of the week. (null)

Please Don’t Make Me Juggle

We talk a lot about failing and succeeding, about balancing and juggling, balls dropped or kept aloft. I just wish there was another way. Can’t we just meet each challenge as it comes? Decide what is the most important thing to do right now and do it? Hold on to what we have and move forward?

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I don’t want to feel as if I’m falling, like I’m going to hit the ground. I don’t want to fear that hurt, that abruptness of finding that I’m not able to stand on my own two feet. I don’t want to have to worry that I’m going to drop something and that everything else will fall in the scramble to prevent chaos — only to find that the chaos is inevitable.

But I don’t often get to choose. It’s not my life I’m carrying. I never know what things should be left, and what I should scramble to hold onto. Sometimes the things I think can be left behind or wait until I get back to them turn out to be someone’s most urgent priority, their most beloved possession.

So that is where I get tripped up: what is worth risking the twisted ankle and bruised shoulder for — because everything matters to someone. I may think it would be crushing if I didn’t go to the musical performance, write the napkin joke, sing the bedtime song. But, really, it would only be crushing to me. Someone else could live without it, might not even notice it’s absence.

But then, when I absent-mindedly push the precious, coveted elevator button, or add the last cup of oats to the granola mix, I sometimes tip the scales and set off a reaction that cannot be contained. The tears, the sadness, the anger spill out with unexpected power. They flow through the apartment, the day, and my own spirit. I try to keep a level head, maintain perspective, be understanding, and clean things up, make them better. But still. They seep and leech and before I know it I am covered inside and out with guilt, disappointment, confusion.

How did this happen? How did I get so off balance that I could cause such a devastating blow? How did everything change moods and directions so suddenly? Will I ever be able to wash out the stain from this particular spill entirely? Will I carry it with me, a sad reminder of my inability to be aware of everyone else’s feelings and prioritize them appropriately? Will I be able to purge it and start over again, clean, happy, pure . . . naieve?

Or am I destined to be sadder but wiser again and again and again, until I am burdened — and balanced — with that sadness and wisdom.

I guess that’s why we talk of juggling, of balancing. We worry about falling, and dropping things because we carry everyone’s feelings in our hands, and everyone wants to be on top sometimes. And the risk we take for trying to make that happen is that sometimes, they all fall down. Even our feelings. Especially our feelings.

Home

firstviewofjapan

Japan.

Japan is where we went, Japan is what we saw. We didn’t go there with a plan, exactly. We didn’t have a list of things we needed to see. Just some cities to travel to and a loose schedule of when we wanted to come and go from each place. We each took one backpack with a few changes of clothes and not much else. We travelled light with the hope that it would make it easy to see and do as much as we could.

We were a little nervous about doing things that way. What if we were so indecisive that we didn’t do anything? What if we missed all the best stuff? What if we ended up so frustrated with each other that by the end of the trip we were hardly on speaking terms?

japanesejumpers

Ha. Ha ha ha! HA!

It was awesome. It turned out pretty much as well as we could have hoped for. We saw so many great things, went to so many beautiful places. By 10:00 nearly every morning we would turn to each other and say: “Well, if we see nothing more today, it has already been worth it.”

naritapagoda

 

sunrisecastle

The first day there was the Christmas Hotel we ran across on our way to the temple in Narita. And while we later learned it was a “love hotel” — not as scandalous/trashy in Japan as it might be in the US — it totally put a spring in our steps as we walked the rest of the way to the temple.

Then there was the castle we stayed across the street from in Nagoya. Breathtaking by day and night. We ran around it a couple of times and marveled at it from every angle.

usatorangegates

Even more breathtaking were the thousands and thousands of orange gates and the hike we took — off the beaten path — to get to the top of the shrine that they led to.

goldentemple

We ran to the Golden Temple in Kyoto and rubbed shoulders with all the uniformed school kids there. We bumped into some missionaries from our church on the ferry to Sado Island. (They were thrilled, and stunned, to run into a couple of English-speaking church members in such a remote place.) We went to church at the Tokyo English-speaking ward and made friends with a family there who invited us over for dinner that night and took us to an observation deck in downtown Tokyo the next day so we could really see the city.

tokyoskylinewelcometotokyo

And we walked until our legs hurt. Our unofficial motto was “Climb Every Staircase.” It served us well as we biked around Sado and stopped at every trail that looked remotely interesting. One time we climbed 300 steps to the top of a hill, only to find a couple of burnt out buildings. Then we turned around and saw the most amazing view of rice fields and mountains. Three hundred steps well worth it.

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Every now and then we thought of our kids, back at home with their aunts. How were they holding up? Were they missing us? Would they be mad at us when we got home? But mostly, we savored the time spent together with no distractions and no interruptions. We fell back into our natural habit of walking and talking, talking and walking. And seeing things — all kinds of things — from a different place.

hikers

The trip was technically my first international experience, but I have to say that even though we were in a foreign country, it felt very much like home. Nagoya — the first city we went to, with the castle — felt especially welcoming. Almost like it was auditioning for us. But Sado Island took me back to our days in Hawaii. And big bustling Tokyo was a clean, courteous, more organized version of New York.

In fact, while “home” — where our kids were, where we would be returning to — was many thousands of miles and half a day behind us, it was easy to forget that we weren’t there already, and that we wouldn’t be putting the kids to bed when we got to the bottom of the mountain we just hiked. It was easy, in fact, to imagine that someday we actually would be putting the kids to bed after a day of hiking mountains in Japan. Because that would be where we lived. Someday. Not any time soon, but not never.

japanamajas

Until then, I’m happy to be back to our present home, where our little munchkins greeted us with surprising gusto. And I’m happy to be packing up our that present home so that we can move to another one (five blocks away) at the end of the week.

Home is always changing, isn’t it? I don’t see why someday it couldn’t be in Japan.

Out to Lunch

Yeah, I know I said I would post more notes from Women in the World in a couple of days but, well, I didn’t get around to it and Micah and I are heading out on a little vacation for a couple of weeks.

We’re celebrating 10 years together! The best 10 years, for sure. And for sure the best way to kick off the next 10 years.

More stories and good times when I get back, but until then… I’m out to lunch.

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Micah’s Got Next

For weeks and weeks I’ve been looking forward to being DONE with the marathon. I was so tired of running every day, so tired of pushing the darn stroller with two kids in it, so tired of logging miles. I imagined that my post-marathon life would be full of playdates and free time, that I would have more time to write, more time to sleep, more time to cook, more time to . . . not make myself so tired.

But then the taper happened. I rested up. I was less stressed about logging miles. And running was fun again. I wanted to do it everyday. I wanted to run a marathon every year at least. I wanted to be as fit as I am now for always. I wanted to never. stop. running.

And of course, that is still the plan. To never stop running. But for now, it’s time to pass the baton. I’ve been telling Micah for months that he’s got next. It’s his turn. He’s been holding my horses for me for a couple of years and, now that his body is feeling better, it’s time for him to go get his. meandmicah

As much as I want to sign up for all the races while I’m still riding the post-race high, I need to catch my breath. So I’m going to stay true to my word and pull back a bit. I’ll still run, yes. I’ll still race, even. But Micah gets to do what he wants to do first, while I hold the horses along the sidelines.

And while I still (always) put my family first, I’m hoping to focus a little more on my writing. Maybe get a little more sleep. (I never realized how awesome 8-hour nights were until I tried it for a whole week!) Possibly be a better friend. But mostly, I want to be as supportive of Micah and his goals as he’s been to me and mine.

It’s only fair.

Maintaining the Relationship

If you want to really get to know someone, you try to see them in all sorts of situations. You go on a road trip together before you get married. You volunteer at a soup kitchen. You play on a sports team together. You cook together. You eat the food you cook. (Or maybe you don’t.) You put the leftovers from that failed meal into tupperware and laugh about it on the way to find some real food. And if, after many many many varied activities you still like each other and think it sounds like a good idea to do even more crazy things together (like raise children, move across the country, jump from job to job to job, constantly be wondering where you’ll be 6 months from now) then you’re golden. Go for it. Tie the knot.

It can be tempting, I’m sure, to think that you’ve spent sufficient time with someone, that you know them, that you’re committed to them, even if you haven’t seen them in all types of lighting. Certainly spending 4 hours cleaning together every morning for a year at your campus custodial job is enough time to really get to know someone. I mean, 4 hours a day for a year! And at 4am! Can’t hide your real self from that.

Folks, sunny beach light is a whole different thing from compact fluorescents. For better or worse. So drop the mop and grab your swimsuit.

It can be hard to branch out, I know. To see sides of someone that were previously unknown to you. What if they don’t like you-at-the-beach? Or you-on-a-train? Or you-in-the-dark? Or you-in-the-rain? What if you don’t like them? What if the pick-up soccer game on the weekend spells the beginning of the end of your relationship?

Well, so be it. Better to find out now than later, right?

But if you do decide you’re committed and you’re going to stick together forever and always, the fun has just begun. Because now part of the challenge is to find new ways to do new things. With less time. And more “important”* responsibilities. A relationship can only go so far on stay-at-home dates and Blue Bunny ice cream.

So you learn to be flexible. You realize that not all dates have to take the whole evening, or even a whole hour. Sometimes it’s nice to just take a walk around the block – and go the opposite direction than you normally do. (Though taking a weekend trip every now and then is certainly a great idea, too.) Anything out of the ordinary, anything that keeps you on your toes and your brain engaged is a good thing.
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It’s the same with any relationship. Even – frivolous as it may sound – your relationship with running. Which is why I’ve been making the effort to test out new paths in the park, or to try a different route altogether when I’m in a time crunch. I’m even trying to switch up my shoes a little more frequently.

If we’re going to be together forever, running and I, we’re going to have to work a little harder to keep things interesting. I’m not going to let this love crash and burn simply because I’m on autopilot. (Which, incidentally, I don’t think I am. I love running more now than I did 5 years ago. But still, what am I missing out on by just doing a counterclockwise loop around the park every run?)

Have you ever gotten burned out of a hobby you thought you’d love forever? Do you ever miss it?

*There’s really no more important responsibility than the one you have to your spouse and your marriage. Not even your kids. Sometimes they are more urgent, but when it comes down to brass tacks, marriage holds the trump card.

So, What’s Next?

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I started thinking about what I wanted to do after Boston months ago. Training was going so well and I was having such a good time that I decided I might as well take advantage of the fact that I’m not pregnant and train for as many races as possible. So I signed up for a half marathon in Utah so I’ll have something to do when I’m visiting my family in June. Oh, that and the fact that we’ve participated the past two years and several other members of my family are running the marathon or half marathon, so it seemed like a good thing to be a part of. It’s tradition!

But aside from training for that and various other races, I have a couple of other things I want to do, too. Like stop being so selfish. Micah has been really great about doing whatever he needs to do – and I need him to do – so that I could train and qualify for Boston, so that I could run while I was pregnant, so that I could train and run Boston. And he’s been nursing some injuries for a long time now. I think it’s time to focus on getting him better so that he can chase his dreams too, and not just hold my horses for me.

And then there is the Manchild. He did such a stellar job at the Mile for Midwives 5K last year, but he was right in that I neglected to train him properly. I’m hoping to do a better job this year. I’m also hoping to take advantage of some morning-run time to take him out one-on-one for a quick lap or two around the block. Over time I hope we can do a couple of miles together. He’s looking forward to running together while I push his little siblings in the stroller, but I think that might be a little ways off. For now I think it will be good for us to run and talk and see if he likes this kind of thing as much has his parents do.

But for the next week or so, I’ll be resting and rollingmy legs and trying to get that IT band back to normal. And counting my blessings that I have a family who has been so supportive as I’ve run after my dreams. Time to return the favor.

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Love in Little Things

20130215-134645.jpgI feel loved when someone sends me an article or a recipe they think I will enjoy, or tells me something they think my kids would like.

I feel loved when someone asks me to do something small for them – to watch one of their kids for a minute while they change a diaper.

I feel loved when we’re invited on outings or to events with friends.

I feel loved when someone volunteers to watch our kids so we can go out.

I feel loved when I am part of a community.

I feel loved when someone responds to me, when I feel heard and seen and appreciated.

And I feel loved when I can do the same for others: when I can share something with them, or when I can take joy in their lives and their children, or when I can let them get me out of a tight spot, or when I can help create a community, or when I can show people how glad I am to know them, that I am thinking of them, that they are important to me.

What are the little things that you make you feel loved? What are the little things you do to show your love in real life?20130215-134828.jpg

This Week in Marathon Training + More Love in Real Life

20130212-223129.jpgI wore normal running shoes this week. To run in. Which I haven’t done since before Squish was born. It was a little weird and I didn’t love it. In fact, I didn’t even like it. I would, in fact, go so far as to say it was the worst run I’d been on in months.

True, it had just snowed a lot. It was cold. Windier than I’d expected. And I hadn’t been feeling great to begin with. But the shoes added insult to my already-injured psyche and I blame them for the soreness in my hips.

Still, they did make 12.5 miles on a cold Saturday afternoon possible, if not enjoyable, and I owe them some gratitude for that.

It’s a shame the week had to end that way because, if I remember correctly, the rest of the week was pretty darn good. I had my first really encouraging speed workout – a 4-mile tempo run that was up to par with previous times and felt good. And although I spent Monday morning on the yoga mat rather than in the park, I got the rest I needed and put in plenty of miles as well.
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And when I got home from each of those runs Micah was ready to head to work, having prepared breakfast for the boys and kept the Little Miss happy if she happened to wake up before I got home. After Saturday’s long run, he fixed me some hot chocolate (Micah makes the best hot chocolate) while I wandered aimlessly around the apartment, oblivious to everything that was going on.

It’s not a big deal, Micah getting breakfast on, but it makes a big difference to me. I don’t feel guilty leaving the boys sitting on the couch while I go out because I know Micah’s going to feed them while I’m gone. And then he’ll greet me with a kiss when I get home, even if I’ve put in an extra mile and made him late for work. #loveinreallife

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