Monday, June 13, 2016

Asking For It

I was asking for it.
He was my boyfriend.

I was asking for it.
We fooled around.

I was asking for it.
He pushed past each of my boundaries.

I was asking for it.
We were in a hotel room. He lit candles and poured wine.

I was asking for it.
I let it happen because I was afraid to say no.

I was asking for it.
I was too scared and ashamed to tell anyone.

I was asking for it.
It happened for two years.

I was asking for it.
I should have said no.
I should have known better.

That’s the lie.
Here’s the truth.

I was never asking for it.

He isolated, brainwashed, and controlled me.
He violated me.

It took me two years to name what happened to me.
The reality was too painful, too shameful.

It should be his pain. His shame.
He should have known better.

I was never asking for it.

Monday, November 2, 2015


My daughter is a study in the art of letting go.

One minute, she is pitching an epic fit over a 3-year-old’s injustice: she wanted a braid, not a ponytail, or she didn’t want to put on her own socks and shoes. There are tears and screaming, sometimes foot stomping and dramatic flops on the floor. Some days I keep my cool and respond calmly but firmly. Some days, I don’t. 

By the time we’re loaded into the car, she has usually calmed down and is politely and happily requesting juice and the Frozen soundtrack. Meanwhile, I’m seething in the front seat, trying to remember to breathe and relax my jaw. I hand her the juice grudgingly (yes, that is a thing) and fight the urge to scream.

One day, though, I did something different. I followed her lead. When her storm passed, I allowed mine to pass, too. I took some deep breaths, turned up the music, and sang along. (“Let it Go” is an appropriate choice for such moments.) I felt lighter, happier. I realized it was possible to have a joyful morning even after we battled over which shirt to wear. For the first time in forever (see what I did there?), we parted without regret on my part. She happily trotted off to see her teacher and I happily went on my way to work.

One morning this summer was particularly hard. It was wonderful until it wasn’t, and I ended up sobbing in the kitchen while she watched with big brown eyes and said, “Mama, you’re sad? You’re crying? Because you’re not playing with me?” That got a reluctant laugh. I spent the day wallowing, convinced I was a horrible, incompetent mother who would never have a good relationship with her daughter.

That evening was our last session of mommy/daughter swim lessons. I was anxious and braced myself for a difficult lesson. Instead, we had an incredible time, one I hope she somehow remembers. 

She wasn’t holding a grudge over that morning’s struggles. Instead, she eagerly ran to hug me, ready for fun. The pool staff turned on the water play structure and we climbed up and slid down over and over again for a half hour. She overcame her fears of the spraying water and slide, and we got soaking wet and laughed and laughed. I felt a joy and peace I hadn’t felt in far too long.

I found redemption on that kiddie water slide.

We still have tough mornings, evenings, and in-betweens. Not every moment will be joyous, and I don't think I will ever stop doubting myself as a parent. But I'm learning that we can move through and beyond the trying times together and come out on the other side, still laughing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I Didn't Expect Her

My daughter loves to surprise me. This usually takes the form of running up to me and yelling, “SURPRISE!!!!” followed by her wildly giggling, “I surprised you!!” I tell her she has surprised me from the very beginning, and it’s true

We prayed and planned for a baby. That part wasn’t the surprise. The surprise came in the tiny bundle who was my mini-me and yet a mystery.

I didn’t expect her, this child with my big brown eyes, my husband’s facial expressions, and the combined force of our stubborn strength.

When I saw how much she looked like me, part of me hoped that her personality would mirror mine as well. Parenting was already outside of my comfort zone. If my daughter was like me, maybe it would all be a little less confusing and a little more predictable. But of course she is her own unique being, one who challenges me more than almost anything else in my life.

I was a quiet, timid child, content with books and pretend play. While my daughter loves those things too, she is active and exuberant. In place of my timidity, she has a wondrous fervor. She is utterly exhausting and enchanting all at once, wild and free and unashamed.

I know part of it is being three, but I also know there is something beyond simply her age. She has more spunk and sass than I ever have. She inhabits it naturally and unapologetically. This confounds me because it is so foreign to me, yet I admire her.

She pushes me outside of my comfort zone on a regular basis, and I need that. She helps me dig deep and grow in unexpected ways. Watching her tackle life head-on makes me more aware of my own strengths, weaknesses, assumptions, and motivations. I have to work to keep up with her.

She isn’t all energy and determination. She has a sweet, thoughtful spirit that never fails to melt my heart. When I told her Daddy wasn’t feeling well one day, she declared, “Daddy needs Hugsy!” and ran to get her big stuffed penguin for him. Her teachers tell us she comforts and encourages her friends when they are sad.

This combined strength and compassion will be a tremendous blessing to those around her. They already are to me: her strong will strengthens my own, and her sweet heart softens mine.

May I have the wisdom (and energy!) I need to teach her to use these gifts well.

May I celebrate her strong spirit, not fear or crush it.

May I see her for who she is, not who I want her to be.

I never expected you, my sweet, sassy girl. You are my favorite surprise.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Dear Husband

Written for my husband for our 7th anniversary

Dear husband,

I love you.

More than that, I like you.

I forget that sometimes. I focus on the frustrating and miss your myriad wonderful qualities.

You have been there for me, always. Thank you for never giving up on me, for fighting for me. I gave you an out once, early on, when things got hard. You bought me dessert and we sat in your truck in the Applebee’s parking lot and we talked until 3 a.m. That was when I knew you wouldn’t run.

I trash talk that truck, but I have fond memories of sitting next to you on its tailgate, close but not touching, willing you to kiss me but knowing you were too gentlemanly to do so just yet. I didn’t know what to do with that. Sometimes I still don’t know quite what to do with you. You continue to confound me and challenge me, and that’s a good thing. I need that.

When we were first married, I wrote about how God gave me the husband He knew I needed, rather than the one I thought I wanted. I wrote then that you were the best thing for me, and it is still true. You have exceeded every one of my expectations for a husband. After all, as you are so fond of saying, “No one expects a Chris.”

You are generous and loving, hard-working and immeasurably patient.

You’re funny and quirky and encourage me to take things (and myself) less seriously.

You are skilled and smart in ways you don’t see or appreciate.

You are willing to risk and say what needs to be said. You are humble and thoughtful.

You never shy away from the hard and won’t let me either. Even though I get angry and resent that at times (okay, every time), it’s what I need and I am grateful for it.

You have always been honest with me, even when I don’t want to hear it. Especially then.

I can bring anything to you – anything – and though you may not understand or know how to respond, you always listen.

You push me to be a better Christian and remind me that that is what matters above all else.

You patiently encourage me and when I don’t listen to you or believe you (again), you speak the same encouragement to me (again. And again. And again).

As we celebrate seven years of marriage, I do feel an itch. I itch for seven times seven more years with you and then some. I long to be half as good a spouse to you as you are to me. I yearn to grow closer to you as we navigate the hard and celebrate the good together.

May we continue to grow, together. Always, together.