Thursday, April 26, 2012


My children are still pretty teeny. At only nearly two and a half and 4 months, they don't really qualify as having aged much. And yet, as I gaze back through my memory, I am in a state of awe about the profundity of change that has taken place in their small accumulation of days.
Last week, I looked at a few old video snippets of my eldest. She was 18 months and I was newly pregnant with her little sister. She seemed little more than a baby. She could hardly talk at all - she was just my sweet little baby. Lately, it seems like she is transforming into a little girl. Her toddler behaviors are slowly giving way to kid behaviors.
Just in the last few days, I've had a few conversations with friends who have newborns. I realized that I don't have a newborn anymore. My little one is a baby, no longer an infant. At four months, the "fourth trimester" is behind us, only a foggy memory.
With both girls, I feel blessed by their current ages - I always seem to really enjoy the time I'm in with them. Don't get me wrong, I do long for certain phases, habits or stages to end. But there is something miraculous in each and every age.
5 for 5 with

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


This will be a post without pictures. There's a conflict about sharing pictures going on around here. I'm fine with it, he's not. Our conversations about it have got me thinking... and the topic for today is pictures, so here goes.

I'm trying to be open, to hear his fear and to find a compromise that feels safe for us both. His basic idea is: The internet is a place where creepy people go to look at pictures of kids; there are bad people out there and we don't want to get hurt. My basic idea is: I want to connect, to share my life; what is the risk, really?

For those of you who have decided for or against sharing pictures of loved ones (or yourself), tell me about how you decided this. What benefits/risks did you consider? Was there something that decided it for you? I really want to know.

This conversation has caused me to examine some of my long-held beliefs. I have led most of my life with a positive, open outlook. People are assumed good, kind, and well-intentioned unless they show me otherwise. I give second, third, and fourth chances. In chaplaincy we called this, "unconditional positive regard". This perspective has served me pretty well so far in this life. I admit there have been a few moments of being a doormat. I have been taken advantage of on occasion. Those occasions have been few, however, and looking back on them shows me that my openness was usually paired with naivete.

I believe in the inherent goodness of people and I want my kids to, too. But I also want to protect them from harm, to give them backbones to withstand the cruelty and ignorance that they may sometimes witness. The world is full of magic, love, questions, wonder, hope, and new life. Right now I am teaching them with my every action about this. Both girls watch me intently, gauging my reactions to new situations. They are hard-wired for this. As they take in information, I want them to be set on a path toward a life of happiness, open to the goodness of this world. This means that they must know about danger and be able to move through it. My prayer is that it all balances out towards the good.

5 for 5 with

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Words used to be my meat, my bread and butter. As a pastor I provided the words that helped guide folks to and fro through the world. I tried to help folks move toward some healing, goodness, hope, joy, justice, each week something else. I preached and sang and prayed every week, leading my community in worship. Towards the end of two years it seemed that the words were drying up. I couldn't get enough poetry, silence, music, other people's words to fill my well. Then again, each week those words came spilling forth from somewhere and out they went, into the world. It was a mysterious grace, this filling up and spilling out.

As a chaplain, words were less necessary. Mostly listening was what was needed. There was a moment, at the beginning of each encounter, where words were crucial. Some words helped begin a connection, others cut off connection. For more than two years I practiced at this, never getting anything remotely like a routine down. There was no script or key. Each connection was different. The only similarity was that as soon as the door was open, my job was to be still, to listen, hold hands, be there. Words were important, but presence was critical.

Now as a mommy to two baby girls and a wife, words are my all-day marathon, my joy, my trial, my caution, my surprise, my longing, my everything again. I don't really read (unless you count blogs, and I do). There is very little poetry around me these days. Words come from the mouth of my two year old. They spill out unexpectedly from her and I wonder where she heard them (like last week when she took a bite of her fresh-from-the-oven cookie and said, "delicious!"). I LOVE getting unsolicited thank you's and pleases. It literally fills me up. Sometimes my big girl seems so grown up when I hear these words come rolling out. And then, there are the not so good things to hear. Lately, sometimes Cordelia says, "Stop it, Oliver!" to our dog or "That's enough, Clara." I know just where she got those phrases. I catch myself saying to her, "That's not a nice way to talk to Oliver/Clara/Whomever". But then, of course, it takes me about two more heartbeats to notice that I, myself, have said those very words to her and that is where she learned them. Deep breath. There is nothing like a mirror to help me see what I look like.

As the words begin to really come now, mostly I am excited. So excited to hear what she really thinks about things. SO EXCITED to be able to ask and receive answers to open-ended questions. Cordelia has had a twinkle in her eye since day one so I just know there is so much hilarity about to come into our lives.

As for the nourishment of words, well, I could use some. I have chosen, over these months, to read a few facebook posts and a blog or two whenever I get the chance. The rest of the little time I have to myself, I use to knit or take a shower or call a friend or you know, sleep. But I miss words. I miss the way they used to soothe and inspire me, the way I had a hunger for words. If I ever go back to active ministry of any kind, I will need words again. And I am actually starting to think that, as my children grow, I'm going to need words in much the same way in order to be a good mother. Mothering seems almost like a deep mixing of the skills I've used so far in my life. The giving of words for healing, inspiring, starting again. The quieting of words, opening a space for listening. The collecting of words for the tending of my own soul. All these are needed, maybe not immediately, but soon.

P.S. I am LOVING this 5 for 5 thing. Thanks, Momalom. Thanks for words and connection, for breathing new words into my life and new life into my words. Write on!

Monday, April 23, 2012


It has been more than a year since my last post here. More than a year and my baby girl's age has doubled. More than a year and a whole new person has been added to the planet (and our family). More than a year and I feel like a totally different person (and yet the same). What HASN'T changed, for heaven's sake?
On the day I last posted, this is what my daughter looked like:

This is what she looks like today:

And then, there is this one.

Life is different. Changed. New. The same. I still seem to be unable to plan meals. I still love to knit and feel driven to make things. I still fiercely love my girl(s). I am still a writing, spiritual, reflective type mama. What is new? Firstly, everything feels either divided or multiplied by two these days. Two times the baby giggles. Divided attention. Two times the mess, diapers, laundry. Two times the developmental trajectory. Divided personal time. Multiplied LOVE. (I know that's a total cliche. Too bad.)

I didn't expect the feeling of being divided to last much past the early weeks of parenting two. I am only four months in, and I know that is still technically quite early, but the feeling of being divided seems so permanent somehow. I feel forever changed by the fact of having two children. (To the other mommies reading this, I am sure you are just completely shocked to hear this.) Of course, the first time I was changed as well. Moments after conception I knew. I knew my life was no longer just mine. The second time that same feeling came again. This time the feeling was familiar, yet new. I needed to take care of one on the outside and one on the inside. As the inside baby grew, so did my feeling of being divided. When the time for giving birth came, I literally gave my little girl over to friends to take care of. It was her first night without me. Now that Clara is a part of our lives, my attention is constantly split in two. You could say that my attention is multiplied. It is certainly true that I am focusing on twice as many things at any given moment.

I'm getting better at the juggling. I love saying, "my girls". And I love it even more when I hear Cordelia's excited voice say, "Two girls!" There are moments of total exasperation. I'm not attending to Clara's every breath the way I was able to with Cordelia. Cordelia is coping as well as can be expected with these things. Clara doesn't know any different. And each day passes as we grow together.

To sum it all up: multiplied, divided, loss, immeasurable gain, more or less.