Are those all your kids?
Are you the nanny?
Wow, you have your hands full!
And my favorite yet spoken out out of the mouth of babes…. Are you the teenager or the mum?
People stare. Some smile. I used to avoid eye contact with strangers because I was so tired of hearing these comments. Except for the old ladies in which I have only heard gasps of “look at his curls” and pinches on those chunky cheeks. These ladies are refreshing. With Facebook flooded of women my age graduating college, doing something so foreign to me like going out dancing or being out past 7 pm, getting married, and possibly having their first baby. I feel way out of season. Way too “old” for a typical 21st century woman. I am completely going against social norms. But I kinda like it.
I had to get over caring about the hands-are-so-full,aren’t you exhausted comments, because it was really disturbing the way I viewed myself. I was taking it way too personally when others would call me Miss, instead of Ma’am. I was left brain storming witty come backs, but, like my childhood days I couldn’t come up with anything new. It reminds me of the days when my brother would scream out some “profanity” like butt head, only for me to repeat just what he said. Lame.
Then, I fell in love with seasons. And welcomed change into my existence. And the fact that I
was am weird.
One of the most beneficial aspects of blogging for me, my dear reader, is forgetting about you. Please don’t take this personal. I really value you. The fact that you have a story. A personal journey worthy of being listened to. But the point in this search for truth, is not caring only for you. But also me. When I hit that “publish” button, I am determined to be really honest about what I think. To be vulnerable to sticking with my words, and question and answer who I am. When I write, it is my time to understand life. To contemplate the season. If I am worried about you, the reader, while I am writing- what you think about me, the way I form my sentences etc. This becomes a game. And a loss for me. My whole life I have cared way too much about what others think. I want my steps and thoughts, to be my own.
I have determined to live in the present. To not be ashamed of the season. To not feel I must defend myself on why I have so many boys so close together at a young age. But to be bold and confidant. Knowing there is nothing but God’s goodness in this journey.
I went from being the biggest, tallest most fully developed third grader. To every one passing me up in high school. In high school, I so desperately wanted to fit into the cookie cutter ways of life, but after the facades I knew I wasn’t being myself. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own shoes. There is a reality in living in something you are not. I have always wanted more. Something spectacular. Something bigger than this world.
When I met my husband he was spectacular. And very different. With yellow glasses and white bell bottom pants, I was instantly drawn to his long hair and raw attitude. There was adventure with him. Not a life guessing who you are. But taking steps to who you want to be.
Unconventional things are comforting. I am used to neatly, plastic wrapped individually price marked produce that fits so conveniently in my labeled refrigerator sections. Followed by traditional recipes of 1 small pepper. 1 medium onion. 1 large tomato. When I was first wed, I could not. Absolutely would not. Make a meal without all the exact ingredients.
I learned that life is not ordinary and does not come with a recipe when I signed up for the Andres’ Community Garden. I will forever hold this place in my heart because I have learned that life is always changing, and different than what you are used to experiencing. Having a vegetable garden stretches me for new ways of cooking, developing different approaches and ways I view food.
At first some vegetables are unrecognizable. Like extra long 22 inch cucumbers. Seeing overtaking melons plants block a path from walking. Wrinkled onion stems ready for picking. Oddly shaped tomatoes that do not fit my normal Chopped/blog tutorial learned correct ways of cutting.
But then, a peace like rushing waters falls over me in the garden. A realization and thankfulness that we are not all created equal. But unique. And different, with purpose. Just as each cherry tomato is different in size and taste then another tomato growing two steps away. I am not like you, and you are not like me. And there is joy in this. My life story can not be compared to others. In the garden, perfectionism is not existent. Some plants do not make it. And some are bearing fruit. But there is no judgement or condemnation. Vegetable gardening is about learning. Watching. And preparing ways to increase better yield.
For two days and two nights. My family escaped this normal life to the mountains and running water. The preparation for this short journey left me pondering if we would have all we needed. My normal anxious checking off the lists tendencies were comforted driving up the mountains. With wide eyes, tree after tree surrounded us. Some fallen. Some thriving. Some cut down.
Hiking into the trail head, I side with sticking to the camp site we are used to. After all we have three boys- 5, 3, and 2. This is the sound of me settling. And I know it. The boys run to us, and point to a steep incline and a river running 3 feet from the tent. This made me queasy.
A year ago I strongly rejected the notion of camping in that site. That site was left for “Another time. Someday” I didn’t want to spend the days telling them no. No you can’t do that because you might slip and fall into the three inch water and hit your head on a rock? NO, you can not climb the mountain because I do not want to have to come and get you. No you can not sit that close to the fire because you are making me nervous.
While discussing as a family which site we liked- inner questions started flowing, doubts and fears of what could happen. What if there is a flash flood and we can’t get out? What if the boys fall down the ravine?
My husband has always been the one to try new things, to not live in the “if “of life, to not be afraid. He is my balance for my reluctance to try anything new.
Sliding down this “dirt slide” that my boys would soon call it. Made me feel like a kid all over again. The rush. To live. To let loose. Or is this even allowed for adults? So many times I think, I can not do that. I will look silly. I am a mom after all.
Having three sons at the age of 26, in days to be 27- I could say the greatest gift I have received from my sons is the ability to just be. To laugh uncontrollably to daddy’s tent puppet game with their stuffed animals. Or moms camp fire story about a pair of lost underpants in the woods. To throw stones and sticks into the water watching the splashes hit their faces. To chasing a baby butterfly around camp believing it likes their smell and wants to be friends.
Setting up camp next to the river, I dreamed of dreaming in the tent with my family of five cuddling to keep warm. The uncomfortable cold chill of the coming night and drips of rain roll off of me. No longer does the weather forecast for 10 days concern me. Or how dirty the boys faces have become.
This may sound cliche’ but some inner conflicts were understood sitting by the fire, wrapping yourself around its warmth. Seeing my oldest son dash through the woods, free to test out his wings of independence, gave me a confidence in that when he starts his first day of kindergarten in one week, that he will fly. And flourish.
He begged me to let him cross a fallen log that served as a bridge across the raging river beneath. Someone prior had attached a rope for extra balance, but for a Big person. The thought of myself crossing it made me nervous. To see his sad curious eyes looking at me asking to go but struggling with the fact that he could not do it on his own.
I surrendered over my fear. It felt so good. I became comfortable with something that I once thought was impossible. Or scary.
Half way with my leading and my son following on the bridge he cried out for his daddy. It broke my heart for the comfort he takes in his dad. What a beautiful thing that his son would need him. I looked at my baby and I told him he could trust momma for his protection too. We crossed together, finished with a embrace of shared success.
And that is what this season of my life is all about. Shared success of conquering our fears, growing into new vessels, releasing silly and ridiculous things about ourselves, not for the sake of being perfect- but in changing.
Letting grace fall on this season of our lives. To be happy with who we are now. And mindful of who we used to be.
It may seem really silly to you that at this stage of my life I am essentially understanding the elementary things of this life. Or really taking delight in simple things like watching the coals of the fire burn or falling asleep to rushing water. Popping a sweet and juicy tomato in my mouth. Hearing my boys count how many they picked, and watching how fast they go.
Sometimes I want to argue with the changing of the seasons. And the realities that it beholds. Driving down the road, I pointed out a few yellow turning trees. I questioned my husband if he saw what I saw. Didn’t summer just start? I felt a crisp in the air last night sleeping, that no longer sheets comforted. I hesitated to pull our duvet up, soaking in that this season will soon be over. Snow will soon come.