Faith, Family, & Focaccia

A faith and culture Mommy blog, because real life gets all mixed together like that.


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What I have learned in 14 years

Today is the fourteenth anniversary of the day Tyler and I made the most important promises of our lives. We loved each other very much, AND we did not yet understand very much about love, or what all those promises really meant. That ignorance was OK, however. It has been part of the gift of our marriage – the chance to learn together about love, and all the work involved in love, in the context of a commitment to do that work together, however hard or unexpected it might be.

If I were to make those promises again today, I would understand them very differently…. and I would mean them more, especially  the promise to love. I would understand love in a way that was much less romantic, and much more about the daily texture of a shared life. I would understand love as a shifted center that creates not just a partnership but a family, which then proceeds to shift the balance yet again. I would understand love as a willingness to stay still instead of walking away, even when you don’t know what to say and know that saying the wrong thing could hurt both you and the one you love. Most of all, I would understand love as a joy that is so much more real than happiness.

So, for my shared reflection today, I offer this love poem to my husband and children about all the things that they have taught me about love and joy in daily moments.


 

What is this joy?

 

What is this joy?

that fills like helium,

one deep inhale and I am floating, tether-less…

What is this joy?

that sets my eyes to dance

in rhythm with the eyes I gaze and laugh into…

What is this joy?

in gentle fingers twined

through my long, tangled hair to make it beautiful…

What is this joy?

that fills the silent space

with promise that the words will come if I will wait…

What is this joy?

that rides the swells

and troughs and will not sink beneath the rolling waves….

What is this joy?

that forms a solid core

for this togetherness of constant, changing life…

What is this joy?

this joy is love,

the virtue that can only grow… when shared.

 


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More than Seven Reasons to Celebrate

Princess Imagination on her last birthday... it feels like just yesterday.

Princess Imagination on her last birthday… it feels like just yesterday.

Today Princess Imagination turns seven years old. She has been talking about and planning this day for months. I, on the other hand, don’t quite feel ready.

This post, however, is not about my ambivalence about my daughter’s fast progress through childhood. It is about the question of how to celebrate this milestone in her journey. In the context of her intense discussion of her upcoming birthday I had plenty of reminders about this opportunity, and since writing is the way I process my challenges and joys, it was obvious to me that I wanted to write something.

I took a few stabs at something that would be appropriately expressive of my huge pride at being her mother.

I tried the format of a letter telling her what I wanted her to see in herself.

I tried an explanatory list of “seven” amazing things I see in her – one for each year.

But none of these formats were quite clicking. They felt forced.

And then I re-read a poem that she had spontaneously inspired through her play a few months ago. It is just a sensory description of a common place childhood moment, but that is what makes it feel right to me in this context.

Celebrating her childhood is not about formulas, or lists, or deep, expressive analysis.

It is about the amazing joy of watching her live ordinary moments, and rediscovering simple joy in that observation.

 


 

Celebration

 

Bright yellow

like a little globe of sunlight

captured in a ball of childhood delight

floating for the benefit of her bright eyes.

Smooth and soft

not burning as the touch of sun drops should

but pulsing

squirming

dancing away

from playful fingertips.

It tastes like laughter

filling up her mouth with bubbling joy,

sweet salivation wetting lips

that part in breathless expectation

Her tiny nostrils flare

as dust and cornstarch

beaten from the air by flailing arms and flying fingers

tickle her delicate nose, tempting a sneeze

to join the riotous sounds of celebration

giggles and squeals

weaving a complicated dance

between bright, one-syllable commands

“jump”

“look”

“get it!”

But then the sharp report

*POP*

and for one frozen second

 

air itself contracts to mourn the loss

– – –

but then the swirling, active fun refills the space

so lately occupied by her little drop of sun…

the next balloon is pink.