I almost never get my husband's sign-off before making a post public; he's across-the-board supportive of everything I've ever posted on the blog, and so I know I don't need to fret. But this piece was about our son and it was really raw and hard; it wasn't just my story and I needed his support.
It was mid-morning when I finished it and he was at work and couldn't just stop what he was doing and read even though I really, really wanted him to. So while I waited, I wrote to a friend. I needed someone to know exactly where I was right at that moment.
I sent her the post privately. I told her I was having a hard morning, that I was an emotional mess.
"Sorry about the emotional mess," she said.
"It's okay. Good always come from this place."
"That's very serene of you."
"It's true. I used to think my life was falling apart when shit like this came up, and now I know that I'm on the edge of something better," I replied.
"Wisdom and experience are so underrated."
I think I've maybe never felt as validated as I did when I read those last six words. Because my friend is hella smart. The kind of smart that intimidates, but also keeps you alert; you want to bring your A-game. And yet there was no pretense, no undermining. The underlying message my ears heard was: education and book smarts are valuable, yes, and so are wisdom and experience.
Until then, I'd know that wisdom and experience mattered to me. I'm building my writing and coaching work atop solid bricks of both. But I often question if earned wisdom and practical, lived experience is a currency valued by the masses. I have a college degree, and am also aware that the tools I use to do the work I love have been gathered through less-conventional methods. Which often leaves me feeling suspect.
That morning I found myself weeping in the corner, and despite my tears and sorrow, I was able to tap into the truth - that this hard moment was simply a detour toward a much more lovely place. And my wise and loving and sassy and straight-shooting friend performed a miracle (probably by accident, which makes it all the more miraculous.)
Because a conversation that leaves you feeling seen and new and really real?
A miracle, indeed.
We're in Texas visiting family. It's hot here and it's okay. It's unusual for me, this willing acceptance of humid heat. (This might have something to do with the reprieve provided by the fully air-conditioned house.)
We've been laughing a lot and I'm struck by how easy it always is to see this group of folks; we often go years in between visits, and then I'm just standing in the kitchen cooking and making coffee and they're chatting and laughing over there and it's all just very normal.
I like it so much.
I took my son to Whole Foods today to buy a few things: guacamole, nutritional yeast, granola. We (I) drove around this vast, flat place in three wrong directions before finally finding the store, which was mere minutes from the house.
We were hungry.
But we were easy, too.
I looked at him in the rearview and thought, "It's me, you know."
It's always been me. Getting in the way of things being how they need to be. Working relentlessly to say, "It's you, it's you!" because saying "Wait. It's me." is daunting as hell.
But it's true. In this relationship, the one I get to have with my boy, it's me.
Because he is a boy of only four. I haven't known what Boy Four is supposed to look like. I wanted it to look easy. I wanted it to look like less work. I wanted it to look like it was taking care of itself.
I wanted it to look like it wasn't me.
He is doing the things young boys do, and similarly, I've been doing the things Mamas with whole lives already behind them do: struggle, flounder, rise up, fall down.
And today, as we drove around, as we navigated the aisles of a bustling market, as we had a simple afternoon like mothers and their sons sometimes do, I knew.
When we got back to the house, we swam in the pool.
It's a salt water pool.
My girl plugged her nose and my man shook his head like a pup and my boy leapt from the side of the pool into my arms.
That salty water, it cleans you, you know.
Just like the ocean.
Just like tears.
It cleans you like a slate.
And so I'll swim again tomorrow.
PS: There were so many of you who helped guide and buoy me on July 1, the day I wrote the post I mentioned up top. I was so humbled by each of you. You shared your stories, you offered me your ears, and you helped me safely navigate. Thank you thank you thank you. Truly.
Also, THIS BOOK. It's tiny and sweet and oh my god did I nearly faint with relief when I started to read this book.