Home > Family, Love, Parenting > Hope within my reach

Hope within my reach

I will be worthy of that cape.

I ended my post “Becoming a superhero” with these words.

How could I earn that cape? Not by battling super villains or saving entire countries from natural catastrophes, but by my attention and engagement with my kids.

I’ve remembered that cape here and there, and gone through periods of donning the cape and losing it deep within the wreckage of my perpetually untidy house. (It’s okay; Thunder Thighs had a perpetually dirty house, too, but she saved the world for four kids all the same.)

like my mom

Thunder Thigh’s powers were much more exciting  (and inspiring) than “keeping an immaculate house”

These things seem to come in cycles as life’s balances shift. I’m comforted remembering no one can be a superhero all the time. Even Superman needs the downtime of being inconspicuous Clark Kent, as Batman needs to occasionally intersperse weaponed battles with the usually more mundane ones of Bruce Wayne’s day to day life.

Yesterday, I sat down at the kid table with my sixteen-month-old son while my husband and older son slept. Littler J and I ate together slowly.

I burped. Littler J laughed uproariously, so I burped again. 

He tried burping, making a deep throaty noise and laughing at himself.

I spent the next four hours focused on him and, later, his older brother. I checked not a single message or picture on any site, instead focusing on noticing the grooves in my sons’ cheeks when they smiled and frowned. On what made them smile and frown.

Later, we went to the park to meet friends. I discovered Littler J thinks my leaping–especially with legs splayed–is hilarious. I ran and jumped all around in the shade of the tree we’d parked under.

He tried to jump, but could only manage spinning in wide circles.

It was all so mundane.

It was all so amazing.

J-ball!

J-ball!

This morning, I spent an hour and a half with my boys before my husband shuffled out and proclaimed his fever broken.

I was sad he’d awakened. I’d been having such a great time with my little boys! Unwilling to call the us-three portion of the morning over, I readied both boys to join me on my weekly shopping trip.

The trip wasn’t quiet, or mellow, but it was amazing. All so amazing.

As I drove home, with one son howling at the injustice of being in the car seat and the other about slamming his arm in the car door, I soaked it all up.

And I realized one of the other reasons the last couple of months have been so hard for me: While my husband’s been between jobs, I’ve had almost no time with both my sons.

While my husband is working, I do most the kid-wrangling because his job’s hours are long and erratic. I’m bone-tired by the end of each day, but I’m content, too.

With my husband home each and every evening these days, and with us always taking one kid apiece, I’ve missed out on something I didn’t even realize was important to me: time with both my littlest guys, together. I’ve missed out on some of the quiet time I have with kids in bed those evenings my husband is away.

No matter how much I love my husband, I am an introvert. I savor quiet times where either no one is speaking … or if someone’s speaking, it’s Larry Wilmore, who neither needs nor expects a response from me.

I’ve spent the last few months trying to talk myself into feeling a sense of hope. I’ve searched for it and felt saddened by my inability to grasp it, instead of reaching feebly for tendrils to find it–to find her–dancing just outside my grasp.

Yesterday morning, I woke up before 5:00 a.m. and it was there. I worked to keep it, searching for it not online but in what is all around me already.

I was beat by 4 p.m., fighting my own fever, but I was full anew of hope.

This morning, thanks to Candy Land, boys at play underfoot while I cooked, and a noisy shopping trip, I’ve kept hope kindled.

How will I maintain that? By swapping solo time with my husband at least every other weekend as we’ve agreed we’ll do. By occasionally seeing my friends–in person, with my very own eyeballs, and reveling in their hugs. By spending time alone together with both my kids. By slowing down as often as I remember, and being wholly in this moment.

Hope doesn’t just exist. I must cultivate it and, when it’s flickering, rekindle it. I’ll have the fuel to do that day in and day out not by just plodding through and thinking I have to find it eventually, but by doing things that energize me and bring me joy.

By this quiet joy, I will invite–and welcome, enduringly–hope to keep dancing within my reach.

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  1. August 2, 2015 at 10:59 am

    You are capeworthy. I can read that much in your worries and cares.

  2. August 2, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Underdaddy beat me to it. Took the words right outta my head. 🙂 (((hugs)))

  3. August 2, 2015 at 11:20 am

    I am happier than I can say, reading this post today and hearing about how you are rediscovering and rekindling happiness!

    [On the subject of the superhero qualities of all us everyday women, did you happen to see this? http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/this-woman-will-probably-change-the-way-you-look-at-signs-fo#.fj4oW39GR ]

    • August 2, 2015 at 11:26 am

      I saw a blog a few years back where a woman described the “Women” bathroom sign as being a lady with a cape, but I hadn’t seen this! Beaming. Thinking my mom would be beaming, too, especially if she realized me and mine still see her in that cape. 🙂

    • August 4, 2015 at 9:44 am

      Your picture didn’t show in my browser, but does on my phone! I LOVE IT!

  4. NotAPunkRocker
    August 2, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Those mom-son moments are awesome. I’m glad you were able to recognize the source of the discontent/unsettled feeling and do something about it 🙂

    • August 2, 2015 at 5:53 pm

      Sometimes when there are a zillion discomforts, it’s hard to recognize any one; once the first couple make themselves known, it’s soaring from there! ♡

  5. August 2, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Anne Lamott nailed it for me.
    “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
    Sometimes the dawn is a loooong way away, but it is coming.

  6. jottlings
    August 3, 2015 at 5:46 am

    Love this. Yes, yes and yes. I will try and wear my cape too.

    • August 4, 2015 at 9:45 am

      Remembering the intention has led to some very, very sweet moments the past few days. I hope you have found the same. ♡

  7. August 3, 2015 at 7:11 am

    This is absolutely amazing! I will take my cape out of the closet, and show it off to the world. Thank you for writing this. Such an inspiration!

  8. August 3, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years is that hope isn’t a feeling. It’s an attitude: an expectancy, a persistence, a refusal of negativity of despair. Hope isn’t one bit sentimental. It’s tough and sinewy, and it lasts.

    • August 4, 2015 at 9:43 am

      I love that this has been your experience, but it hasn’t been mine–particularly in the face of depression, when hope has seemed only a word. In my experience, hope returns as a glimmer, or the possibility of one, and grows again into something deep, strong, true and lasting … for a time.

      If it is there but so well concealed as to not be, the end result is the same: the void of a feeling which, when present, can be the profoundest, strongest weapon against despair … and for joy, goodness, love.

  9. August 4, 2015 at 6:48 am

    Ditto what shoreacres said. Such good thoughts here. Also, love Alice’s image above. Perfection.

  10. August 4, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    I learn so much from you. Sometimes it is a reminder of what I already knew, sometimes it is a nudge in a direction I needed to go. No matter what, I learn so much from you.

  11. August 4, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    I love this. Your posts are always so beautiful and honest—I appreciate that about you, and how your blog is a little corner of the internet that is kind and thoughtful and inspiring.

    Also, I LOVE that caption about superpowers being more interesting than keeping a tidy house. Pretty sure I’m going to frame that.

    • August 5, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      Thank you. ♡ I watch it change bit by bit and wonder, is this still where I want it to be? Not quite, but better all the same, since the changes are intentional ones toward greater honesty. That’s better than my old(er) Great Big Essays that were tidier and sounded a lot more conclusive than most anything I felt. 🙂

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