Saturday, November 12, 2016

enough, for now

Tuesday night I went to bed at 9:30. I woke up at 2:30—my husband’s side of the bed was empty. I found him in the kitchen, sitting in the computer’s blue glow. He looked like someone had died.

Back in bed, I forced my body to hold still, my eyes to shut, willing sleep to come. But my hands kept clenching and my racing, totally irrational thoughts (at least I hoped they were irrational, oh, pleasepleaseplease) ricocheted wildly, completely out of control, until, shortly before five, I gave up.

As I showered, I racked my brains, trying to reorient myself. What to say to the children? They'd be crushed. How to give perspective? How to speak with love, kindness, and respect when I felt none of those things? I needed a level head, my two feet firmly planted. But on what?

The water poured over my face and then it came to me: kindness. Yes, that was it. I’d tell my children to be kind. Respectful, too. I would not—must not—be ugly about this. There would be no name calling, no bad mouthing, no pointing fingers.

Downstairs, I lit a candle. When my older son walked into the room and asked quietly, anxiously, “Is it as bad...,” I put my head down and cried. And then, a little later, processing it with the rest of the children, I broke again. One child stomped to the bathroom and slammed the door. The other two sat hunched—one in the swivel chair, the other on the sofa—their faces twisted.

As my son headed out the door to his 12-hour shift, I said, Be extra kind to people today.

I know, he said. I will.

What was there to do? Something, anything.

I fetched three butternuts from the back hall and sliced them, laying the pieces on a tray before slipping them into the oven to roast. I mixed up a batch of granola. That afternoon I bought groceries, and then dropped the kids at the library before meeting with my writing group. For two blessed hours we rearranged words, ate chocolate, laughed.

Such balm, that laughter.

*** 

My thoughts have been all over the map. Sometimes I think, Oh what’s the big deal. Life happens, we’ll move on, some good might come of this, blah, blah, blah. Other times I get flashes of anxiety so searing my gut heaves.

On social media and the radio, the voices blare. There is so much anger and hurt. Listening for too long, I feel I’ll drown.

So instead, I hunker down, focus on the tangible, the ordinary. I go on runs. I visit with the college students who crash at my house. I make my kids rehearse their choir music. I speak at a fundraiser dinner for an organization that partners with at-risk and homeless mothers. I see a play. I help sweep up the glass from a dropped pan. I wash the horrifically dusty stairs. I fold laundry. I tease my husband. I make supper.

For now, that's all.




For now, that's enough.
xo

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (11.9.15), George Washington Carver sweet potato soup with peanut butter and ginger, for the time change, the quotidian (11.10.14), maple roasted squash, pumpkin cranberry cheesecake muffins, mashed sweet potatoes, and my apple line-up.

19 comments:

  1. Yes to all of this. I walked in the woods on Friday, trying to channel some of Wendell Berry's "Peace of Wild Things" So much to process both in my own head and with my kids. Kindness is where I've landed, too.

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  2. Somehow, although I never comment here, I've been waiting for your words. Thank you. I too have felt the desperate need for kindness, warmth, the tasks at hands. And then preparing myself for a long fight ahead. Fight? I don't want your words - but feel we must protect so many vulnerable people. I hope you don't mind my words in this space. Sending kindness.

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  3. Oh- I meant I don't want those words (the word fight) - your words are beautiful!

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    1. I knew what you meant---no worries! (And thank YOU for your kind words.)

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  4. Wanna go to the million women march in DC?

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  5. I live in the Netherlands, so far, far away. I was shocked. I had to reassure my teenage sons the world had not gone insane. I have yet to believe it myself.

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  6. You beautifully gave words to so many of the feelings I've been having this week. It's been so hard to process these feelings... almost similar to the way I feel when someone has died. I feel silly for being upset and try to push it aside but then it sneaks up on me. But like you are doing.... we just keep doing the normal, everyday things until we feel the ground beneath us again.

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  7. Thank you for this beautiful tribute to the way the ordinary feeds us thru the deeply difficult times. I love how your sons are learning kindness. I also think outrageous realities call for outrage, expressed not toward individual people but toward the reality against which we feel helpless. Righteous anger is biblical too. And I guess I want you to know that if your sons see anger toward injustice, they will also see a good, good parental role model. I love your wisdom and writing, Jennifer. Keep up the good work.

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    1. Scripture also tells us to pray for our leaders. Mr. Trump will need them. I believe things happen for a reason. And that God is still in charge.

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  8. I'm glad to know that I am not the only one who feels activity is the best response to this. I have been painting the inside of my house since Wednesday. Three rooms so far, and they are clean and beautiful. If I can't control anything else, I can control me and my home. Sending all kind wishes and love to everyone who is anxious and afraid. If possible, get moving, pause your thinking for now.

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  9. thanks for this. i've been following for years, but never comment. you echo exactly as i have been feeling... i try to think it will be fine. but then those moments sneak up on me, when i think about my sweet two year old daughter. or how much hope i had on tuesday, only to be crushed. it's getting better, but i have a feeling things for our country are only going to get worse, and we are going to be helpless to stop it.

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    1. I as a mother of a daughter to cannot fathom how you can be so devastated over someone who stood for abortion?

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    2. Kim, as the mother of a daughter, how can you fathom a president who brags about sexually assaulting women?

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  10. Beautiful......kindness will lead us through.

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  11. Thank You! It's so important for the Christians of this country to speak out and tell our friends and neighbors that we are heartsick with the results of the election. I cherish you for sharing your pain with us. We're all in it too. But today I felt, and have seen a shift. Have you seen it too? We've mourned together, and now many of us went and worshiped together, and now we're still angry, and shocked, and hurt and worried, but we're also starting to talk about what we're going to do to take care of the groups we worry about. We are stronger together, and Love does Trump Hate. Remember as Glennon Doyle Melton wrote this week first the Crucifixion then the Resurrection. First the pain then the rising. You are not alone. Continue to be kind, be active and work hard and stay mad, but be kind- it's the only path toward the light.

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    1. As a Christian what don't you understand in the bible God's word about most everything She was running for was against what God says?

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  12. Thank you so much for giving words to what I am feeling. There can never be too much kindness in the world.

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  13. YES!, to all of the above. Thank you Jennifer, for expressing so well what so many of us are experiencing. ~Sherry

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  14. I Think people wanted to vote for anyone other than Hillary.
    She did not deserve to be the first woman president.

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