The cold cement tore the skin on my knee with its jagged, grained surface. The tear, wish bone shaped, with three triangles of skin, no longer joined, a ridge of blood, like the side of a volcano as the pain started spreading from the heat. It was cold and cloudy, over cast. I was in a one piece bathing suit, half the girls had transitioned to bikinis, I wasn’t one of them. I curled around my cut, wishing to be out of the pool, away from the bikinis that made me feel less, and out of the cold. I held my knee, the pain etching a memory I would remember each time I see the small wishbone, a tattoo of skin higher where the skin was once cut separate. It’s funny how sometimes a scar can link to a memory. And how sometimes, it can’t.
“Honey, we don’t need to run the dish washer on ‘Pots and Pans,’ there aren’t any pots in here.”
“Oh yes we do, I don’t have time to ‘rinse,’ we’ll run it twice if we have to, rinsing is for moms with time for that shiz…”
I have two girls blasting Young & Free from their room, they told me they wanted something hip-hoppish and since our house is small, I burned them a CD of something that won’t drive me bonkers, and we could all dance to, so it’s been on repeat while we dance, and don’t rinse dishes.
I scan the fridge, tortillas, we always have tortillas. Our dining out budget is long gone, it’s the 29th. Panic. No–we can make it, I pull out what we have, tell the boys to go pick some lettuce more to get them out from underfoot than anything else, and the girls pick the loquats on the tree, bending under their weight of the heavy yellow fruit.
I cut up what’s there, and it turns into a meal, despite my worries that only Filebertos could save us at this point.
Cans of the staples, a couple plump red peppers. Did I get the organic ones? Gotta save my kids from all the pesticides and the Disapproving Mothers. I fry them in coconut oil as they soften and the smell of warmth fills our home. We only eat outside, so the birds can nibble up the generous offerings of toddlers learning how to hold burritos themselves, and adults.
Or to hire someone who can be better at doing the shopping than me.
While Maria was out of town, Andrew and I cleaned out the garage. Don’t look at me like that, it was amazing! Our boys still take killer naps, take them to the beach with the sand and sun, they they can’t keep their little eyes open, their hair smelling like salt as we tuck them in, the diffuser, or confuser, as they call it, blasting Serenity to all it’s glory, eyes now sealed tight. “I want the confuser!” “No problem, dearest.” Andrew and I set up the iPad on the tool bench, put on a show, and spent a couple hours in the garage where we dump all the odds and ends. I made Andrew label crap, line things up, put loads of stuff in the trash, bagged everything else for our thrift store. In my heart, I want to be a minimalist. If we don’t need it, I am not planning on storing it unless it wants to pay us rent. It looks so good now, walking space, open spots for storage, we can find the stuff we need. It was the first thing I told Maria about when we picked her up at the airport, she smiled and nodded, then told me of her amazing time with her cousins, grandma, all her family. I took her to the bathroom when we first arrived, and when we walked back to the carrousel, a young woman was standing next to Andrew, talking to the boys, pretending to play duck duck goose with the bags, loud and happy. Andrew gave me a pleading look, ‘help!’ So I didn’t, I wanted to see, giggling. Andrew is one of the most proper men I know, his wedding ring sat in the jewelry cleaner at home, well, we had been deep cleaning. Eventually, Maria and I joined them, she doubled taked at me, and I considered asking her to babysit, she was so good with the boys, but instead, she joined her friend with her bag, as Andrew shot me a look.
“BABE!” he told me, “You could have come earlier! So awkward…”
“She’s got good taste!” I laughed.
Recently we’ve been providing respite care for a little girl. I won’t share too many details except that she is great! We are loving our time with her. Our desire was to help out her family, but it’s been good for everyone–as is what happens, and the girls have bonded. The girls are opposite in nature, and are good influences on each other. Her confidence reminds me of Jonalyn’s, it’s something I am grateful for, but it also pulls back a shade, on our oldest, revealing the scars sitting unknowingly behind the sweetest smile. Sometimes it’s easy to chart progress on the wall, with grades and accomplishments, but sometimes we catch a shadow of what lies underneath the happiest of smiles, the cheeriest of hearts. Someone who can’t remember where the scars came from, no matter how hard they try. No stories of the wounds, but a blank spot. The gash on her head? The missing part of her finger? “I dont’ know? I can’t remember….” she says, slowly, wishing to remember to be able to answer us. Buried, the key locked. A habit of trauma. A habit present even now, because of a past crowned in neglect and fear, a way to cope, to survive. Many– most people wouldn’t see it, but we know there is growth to be had, although most would see a shining star, Andrew and I always try at least, to aim for the heart with our eyes. It’s always one step at a time, and here is the next.
“…the meadow had become
her sanctuary of spirit
offering an escape from a pain
no child should ever endure
foreboding clouds began…”
The right talks, the right forms, the right people, the therapy for trauma around the corner. Key finding.
Thankful for our guest, to demonstrate that now is the time.
Sometimes I watch Andrew when he doesn’t know, when he’s bursting with smiles for the kids, after a long day of work, running with them, scooping them into his strong daddy arms, smiles generous like the sun giving warmth. One minute wrestling, the next holding a tiny 3 year old, ears unending for a preteen filling the air with her heart. Sometimes I feel like I am studying him, he is generous in a way that I wish to be more of. His humility and kindness paving roads into small spirits, never even claiming to love them the most, but, “It’s God, and you are his most valuable treasure.”
I want to learn his sign language.
I was making roller balls for people, and T breathed deeply, “OHMYGOSH, is soooooo goood! What are dey for?”
“Some are for healing, these ones are for helping people with their feelings. Have you ever had a big feeling and then made a bad choice because of it? Maybe too scared or too mad?”
She smiled and nodded yes.
“Same with most people, like everyone. So, when you have big, huge feelings, you can roll this on first, then you’ll be calm and you can think first, and make choices that are good. Sometimes when the boys have big feelings, they do things they don’t mean, even me, even Andrew, even everyone. Then, the boys have these big consequences, and everyone is sad. Sad all around.”
“Want me to make you one?”
I made one for each of the kids with their names on them. They are diluted so I have given them free reign with them, they can roll it on at any time.
Elijah is 100% certain he is a pure adult right now, ready for college exams by the way he acts holding his own oil. Flashing it for all to see,
“Oh, this old thing? Not much, just my own oil, don’t mind me, I’ll just be rolling it on myself, like a pure adult…no no, no need to quit watching, look at my form, right on the bottoms of the feet, need to take notes? I’ll be here all day.”
It’s all fun and games, until they are actually helping big feelings, then it turns into just the perfect thing to have on hand.
Happy birthday Andrew! We love you! I made an apple pie, drug 4 kids to our friend’s brewery on a Monday afternoon to get his favorite, “Oh for Andrew? It’s free!” And Andrew gave up a night where he could be cheersing with friends to be with us, making everyone smile, as he does.
“But the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It’s a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright.” Bob Goff
In our world of distraction, his sacrifice is himself, fully, full of abandon. Happy 34th! You’re our best guy.