Saturday, October 26, 2013

On the sick bed.

I spent a good deal of the morning working on a knitting project and watching Toy Story with this sweet boy.  He's not feeling very well this weekend.

I can remember the way my parents took care of me when I was sick.

For my sister and I, being sick meant snuggling up on the couch.  It meant videos from the rental store.  It meant soup, and orange juice, and Mom or Dad all to yourself. 

For my kids, illness means being tucked into mom and dad's bed for the day.  It means books, netflix, naps, and lots of tea with honey.  It means everything stops--as much as we can make it stop--and quiet, close moments follow.

 As much as being sick is, you know, the worst, there is something about the ritual of care  during an illness that is at times a welcome pause.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In case you were wondering.

I feel like there is something you should know about me. 

I'm not graceful.  I struggle a lot.  And when I do, there's a lot more thrashing than there is grace or integrity or courage.  Really.

I say this because this blog--the pictures and stories--sometimes they come off as seeming like 'a beautiful family' and 'an amazing mommy'.  I get compliments from folks who read along.  And I'm ever so grateful, you guys.  Very blessed by you.  But the truth is, my life is messy: 

I've always felt like I should be on the path to somewhere, but mostly I spin in circles, revisiting ideas and passions that never go anywhere.  I get lost.  I forget things like 'one foot in front of the other' and 'fall down seven times, stand up eight'.  I'm not as far in life as I could be.

I make a good deal of decisions based on fear, and then have to back-track, which is embarrassing.  I drop the ball a lot, too, which is also very embarrassing, and frustrating.  I've mastered the art of being witty and likeable when asking politely for a do-over. 

I love my life--3 kids, 10 years married to my very best friend--ya, I absolutely love it.  Still, in the face of so much blessing, I fall apart a lot.  I fall apart in front of my children, and I'm pretty sure I'm a hand-full of a spouse.  I've become quite proficient in apologies and asking forgiveness without delay. 

But I think all of this is sort of the point of Charlie's Up To, you know?  I mean, if there is a message here, a theme that comes up again and again on this little internet space,  it's that life can be hard or different or not-what-you-thought-you-were-capable-of, and still be good.  I'm just a woman with regular challenges, normal intelligence, average resources, and I'm not graceful at all, yet here I am, falling down over the speed bumps, and still finding joy.

Being a mother bends you.  If ever you were a tree who grew straight and decisively skyward, now you are a willow.  Now you bend, you sway.  You loose stature, but give more shade.  My point is, I didn't get here on a painless path, and I don't handle life's trials with a lot of grace or decorum.  And though my words and stories are reflections of the admiration I have of my children and the joy they bring to me, behind the words there is a tangled, messy life that isn't always a lot to look at, but I would never change.

Just so you know.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Death is consuming a corner of my garden.

The last crops of the summer season--the corn, sunflowers, beans, the gourds and squash--give that final, valiant push for the harvest.  Their energy singularly focused on the purpose of their labor and existence. 

They are literally killing themselves for the sake of the fruit.  The seed.

A month ago this patch stood tall and green, and we all watched it with an inspired sense of it's potential.  Now, with the change of the season, that potential is realized in a  bounty of crops, but the garden herself... 

She's mangled.  She's spent.  Sunflowers bow low beneath the weight of their massive heads.  Squash vines march across the lawn as if lost and wandering.  She's a wreck.

I find myself empathetic with this active passing.  One corn stalk now grows vertical to the ground, the last ear of corn nearly ready.  I whisper, You are so close.  Don't give up now.

The sunflowers are propped up on bits of fence and random garden objects.  One now leans solidly on a neighboring tree.  Where would they be without the things that literally keep their faces out of the mud?  I know how you feel, I tell them.

I want to high five that garden every time I walk past her.  I speak to her tenderly because I know she needs that right now.  I do what I can to help her keep going until her work is finished.

And when it's over--when the last of her harvest is plucked and gone--she will stop.
She will lay herself down in the soil.  and rest.

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