See those two squares of blanket out there in my darkening yard?
They were my patches of hope tonight.
Sometimes I'm amazed how, all in one day, I can feel deflated by discouragement and frustration, be crying and quiet and a poor excuse for company, and then come back again.
It happened today.
I was feeling down about my life.
Feeling like I'm failing at motherhood, and mothering, and nurturing, and the whole deal.
Full of doubt about the future.
(That one happens a lot, and I have to fight it off pretty vigorously.)
I felt completely exhausted, on an absolute emotional empty.
We went out for an outing and I was upset and quiet and discouraged.
But then, miraculously, things flipped around.
When we got home, something switched.
My patience was recharged.
I gave my gal some doritos.
I showered the pool off of me and set to making dinner.
I cut up cold melons that were sweet and juicy and mixed them with grapes.
I sliced and spiced chicken and started it cooking.
I picked warm tomatoes from the garden and chopped them up, mixing them with greens and cucs and purple onion and avocado and feta.
My boys got themselves bathed and I went down the stairs to pick up my screaming, exhausted baby, wet from the bath.
I toweled her off, got her diaper and jams on, and brought her upstairs.
Served up dinner to everyone, and then loved watching Claire go at her food.
My favorite part?
She told me, "Mom, I love salad."
And then I watched her sift through it, looking for all the bits of feta cheese.
I told her I love feta cheese.
"I love it, too."
And just when it was one of those days when it felt like God is distant, I took that little babe downstairs to my bed.
I attempted not nursing her tonight because I'm finally coming around to the idea that it may be about that time.
(Makes me mama heart ache. Like, super ache.)
I snuggled her in to my body, put her bink in her mouth, snuggled the fuzzy, soft part of her blanket all around her, and started to sing, rubbing her forehead with my fingers.
We made it through "Twinkle," and then "I Am A Child of God," and came around to "I Feel My Savior's Love."
My voice caught in my throat, and peace came in to my heart.
Not that things are fixed or the way ahead is suddenly clear and bright, but peace.
I felt it again, and it soothed this weary heart.
(And, unrelated, but I just have to say it. I know she's mine, but I look at this photo and wonder if God ever made a more beautiful baby. For real.)
That was followed by an exchange with one of my sons that also followed the same pattern: frustration to peace, to communicating, to being able to tell him that I love him.
From a flustered, fast, quick exchange, to one with tears and closeness and actual talking. It was a gift for me. I sat there feeling like this is what it's about -- the struggle, up close flaws, acknowledgement, apologizing, trying to be there for each other in all the ways that we are so imperfect.
We ended up out on those blankets, that same son snuggled in next to me for the duration of our reading, an exciting bit where two kids are off on an Arctic adventure, lost in a blizzard while skating on a lake.
Hard to imagine when we are barefoot in the backyard, short sleeved, blankets and pillows, enjoying what couldn't be a more comfortable summer night.
The sky had soft, wispy clouds, and as I read, they changed from pale pink to something deep and vibrant before vanishing into the darkening sky.
We said prayer on those blankets and then I tucked them in.
So often I feel so out of steam by the end of the day that
I don't feel I'm I'm not very meaningful in my goodnight, don't feel a lot of love in that process. (It's more like---just please get in bed and be quiet and stay there. #truth)
I kissed their heads, and it wasn't rushed for me. It was quiet and purposeful inside.
And I returned to my still-dirty kitchen and began cleaning while listening to some quiet Patty Griffin in the background.
These people and this life stretch me.
I don't often know the way or the why or the how.
But loving and trying make sense.
I'm trying, and you, wherever and whoever you are, you're trying.
That's a beautiful thing, and sometimes the only honest thing we have to offer.