No shame in tears, nor strength in dry eyes

“I was crying at school and I couldn’t control it,” my little boy whispered as I stroked his hair moments ago.

“Oh, sweetie,” I murmured. “You don’t have to worry about that. You just worry about feeling better.”

He nodded.

“Do you know I even cried, when I saw how much you were hurting? It’s okay. It’s okay to cry. It doesn’t need to be controlled.”

He didn’t reply, but his eyes drifted closed. I continued stroking his hair and thought:

I don’t want
you to struggle with stoicism as I have, like there is some great merit in stoicism above all else;
you to waste your energy concealing your heart to win anyone else’s favor; if hiding is what wins it, it’s not worth winning;
you to think it’s manly or strong not to cry, when indeed it takes profound strength to reveal vulnerabilities, through tears or otherwise;
you to believe for a moment that my love or respect are conditioned upon your ability to grit your teeth and bear it; these things you already have for simply being wonderfully, unabashedly you

Arms reached out through space and time

September 15, 2014 Comments off

Two women I admire suffer tonight.

Tori once wrote here about how the darkness in her yesterdays helps her better appreciate the light today. Right now, she can unlikely imagine the possibility of seeing light again.

Humble’s kids went missing one week ago. They’re probably with their non-custodial parent, but I can only imagine that is a “probably” full of what-ifs, worry and the sadness of a hundred kisses missed.

As I think about these remarkable women, I remember one terrible day in college when the hurts of the past came hurtling into the present thanks to an unwelcome visitor at my sister’s workplace. As my future brother in law drove me to a party, I started sobbing at the memories of everything that had been done and everything I couldn’t do.

Nick pulled over the car and held me while I shook with sobs. He spoke soothing, loving words about my sister and me, our amazing love and resilience. As he spoke, I had the sensation he was holding me not only in the present but also in the past. His arms reached through space and time to comfort my younger self in her sorrow. And so it came to be that, when I remembered those horrible things, I continued to feel his arms around me, as if he’d been there whispering all along, you’ll get through this; I’m here with you. Those arms reaching through time and space tempered the bitter loneliness of many past sorrows.

Right now, I would give much to be able to share a little of the distress. I can’t. Grievously, I can’t. But I hopepraywish that, though I cannot extend these arms the way my now brother in law once extended his, the sense of many arms outreached in love will serve–even in fleeting moments–as a tiny flickering reminder of what might yet be.

Please hold out your arms and prayers for Tori.
Please look for Humble’s kids, and share her “missing” poster if you can.
Thank you.

ETA: Humble’s kids are back. So glad.

Categories: Love Tags: ,

Growing hair, growing life

I shaved my head for St. Baldrick’s two and a half years ago.

“Don’t do that!” urged some folks around me. “Think about how you’ll look!”

“Eh, it’s just hair,” I’d reply. “It’ll grow back.” My husband agreed, and sent me off to Chicago with warm wishes.

"Behind my laptop on the hotel desk is a mirror. Every time I glance over the top of my laptop, I can't help but wonder, "What will I look like without hair in 20-some hours?" A handful of hours will tell!"

My hair then

One woman, knowing I’d recently converted to Judaism, explained why what I was doing felt “icky.” The highest level of giving, after all, is when neither the donor nor the recipient know each other. She felt the spectacle outshone the purpose, an assertion I didn’t bother responding to in substance. I shaved my head for the same reason I ran a half-marathon to raise money: People are so inundated with requests for money these days, they want to be inspired by someone’s conviction–not just told–to give.

Another handful of people told me I dishonored cancer patients by shaving my hair; I wouldn’t really understand what cancer patients endure, and would distract other people from understanding the terrible, total experience of cancer. I wasn’t striving to understand the totality of the experience, though. Having lost my mother to cancer, I wanted to do whatever small thing I could to ensure fewer people might say needless farewells … especially to their children.

Mostly, people were supportive. Mindful of both critics and supporters, I made the choice that made the most sense to me.

I went for it.

Arrrgyle returned from Arrrland (photo by Dana S)

Newly shaved

I wore a wig for about a week. It bugged the heck out of me, and beside, I liked how I looked bald. Even strangers’ open stares didn’t change that.

I liked how my hair looked as it grew. And, wouldn’t you know? Read more…

Farewell, scary neighbors!

Last summer, a neighbor called me a crazy bitch for denying him access–no matter how minor–to my son, prompting me to write this post about how I’m raising my son.

Something like this

About that …

His girlfriend told me I needed to be more understanding because he was abused as a child, lonely, had had some drinks, and only did this once every six months or so. I made myself very clear when telling her what I thought about that.

Those neighbors moved a few months ago. They took with them their special brand of neighborliness. I immediately felt safer and more comfortable in my home. I wondered who my family’s new neighbors would be, and hoped they’d be more reasonable.

I was excited to meet the youngish working couple who moved in. I was even more excited to see them taking out the trash for everyone on the lot soon afterward; we were going to have real neighbors! My husband, Anthony, would round things out by taking in everyone’s bins as often as his work schedule permitted.

A couple of weeks ago, the husband saw Anthony out on the lawn and approached him. He hoped to park his car in our driveway while he was away.

Anthony immediately said no. Explaining it to me, Read more…

My sons’ teachers

What do I want from my sons’ teachers?

Perfection? No. I am not perfect, so why should I expect that from anyone else?

Unending patience? No. If that were what I sought, I’d send them to school with robots instead of human beings.

Children who immediately master everything to which they’re exposed? No. It takes me weeks and months to master my own new lessons, no matter how beautifully they’re taught. Others can only present; it’s up to the student to learn.

Book knowledge my sons will acquire as they’re ready, with guidance in and outside of school. Overall, what I want for them is knowledge and wisdom that can’t be found in books but can be found in the adults around them–me, their dad, their grandparents, their aunties and uncles, my friends, and, of course, their teachers.

I can’t be with my sons all day every day. It is their teachers who will guide my sons through most their waking hours each week and so, walking away from my sons each morning, I find myself thinking again and again what I want from their guides. What I come to again and again is that I want my son’s teachers to: Read more…

Some days

Some days begin at 2 a.m., when your husband texts from the ER to say all is well (enough).

Some days feature 3 a.m. arguments over things that can’t possibly be resolved by dark of night.

Some days there’s almost no sleep to be found, but still so much work to be done anyway.

Some days you leave home late without breakfast, no matter how hungry.

Some days you have to leave your not fully healthy kids at daycare because you already took two mandatory sick days last week. Read more…

Skateboarding, dancing and the art of learning merrily

I am not afraid of looking ridiculous.

My first few times on a skateboard surely fit the bill. Moving 0.2 miles per hour along the walkway behind my old apartment, I was sure I was perpetually just about to fall and crack my skull. This meant I spent much, much more time off the skateboard than on it: Ack! A leaf! I better hop off and walk past it just in case!

Slowly I grew a little more confident. I moved faster and ended up stumbling less; the speed actually helped me cruise over small obstacles my wheels would otherwise trip over. I was eventually able to skate after my running son while holding his tricycle in one hand, much to the mirth of people I rolled by. “You’re one fun mom!”

Else why would I wear Vibrams?

Yesterday I stepped on the skateboard for the first time in many, many moons. I did better than I expected, but not nearly as well as when I last rode consistently.

But you know what? It was a blast.

This fits the bill for something else I’ve start doing recently.

Inspired by my newly beloved So You Think You Can Dance, I’m teaching myself hip-hop. In my kitchen.

I’ve tried dancing a couple of times before, but stopped quickly each time because I was terrible. Because, you know, beginners should be great.

My mom and youngest sister often went ballroom dancing together. I joined them once, but was so awed by their mad moves that I quickly backed out. I couldn’t dance like that! Not ever! Clearly it was rational to compare the skill of my first dances with their skill after taking numerous classes. Yep.

Rational or not, I’ve continued to feel like dancing probably wasn’t something I could do. Watching So You Think You Can Dance recently has filled me with a longing to move along, but a simultaneous sense of impossibility of ever doing so well. Read more…


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