Hardship Tour Cont.

Paul came home from basketball practice tonight and saw my bottle of vino on the counter.

“Is this your Petey’s,” he asked.

“Yup,” I said inhaling deeply, “I’m gonna keep chipping away at it.”

That’s me, taking one for the team.

He said his secretary knew exactly what I was talking about (as did Kris in the comments), and I really like what Kelly said: Petey’s Malbec: what to bring if you didn’t want to be invited in the first place.

Which makes me think of another slogan: Petey’s Malbec: Why Do You Hate Me So Much?

Also: Petey’s Malbec: Wanna See Me Make a Duck Face?

Here are a few items I’d like to bullet, just to show you the ways I’m suffering right now. I tried to ride the sympathy card tonight at our little neighborhood potluck and I love how my friends were like, “um, no. Don’t even try.” It’s hard to get pity from a woman whose three children under age four went all day with no naps. Oh sure, play THAT CARD.

But, here, let me take a stab at your kindness. I’d really like to try:

1. Runny nose. Cold sore, right in the spot where you press on your upper lip when you wipe your nose. Are you weeping for me? YOU SHOULD BE.

Okay, I can do better.

2. The other night at my precious godson’s baptism reception, I sliced the tip of my finger and narrowly avoided stitches and man it hurt so bad for a few days after that. I made it through but wow! So tough! Pain at every single turn.

Those first two put together have made life really challenging and I’m embarrassed to admit such tiny suffering adds up to so much. Oh the hardship we endure!

I’m being silly but also a tad serious. These tiny stabs of pain, how they hurt, how they jolt us from any lofty thoughts back down to the reality of life and sadness. Woe to me. WOE.

Here’s some more:

3. Two of the boys got in an epic fight last night that involved someone tooting on someone else’s cellphone, followed by a quick and severe retaliation. To which I say: who has toots stored up like that? How are you able to do that at will?

4. Isabel’s ballet teacher informed me she needs a bigger leotard. I guess my understanding of “fits snug” is a little extreme. You shouldn’t have to pour your toddler into her ballet outfit? She should be able to breathe?

5. I subbed in one of the big boys classes this morning and the teacher asked me to talk about journalism. So I brought a few clips (my column, a Catholic Digest article, the cover of a magazine that featured The Gist) along with the segment from the movie set my son and I visited this summer. I showed the segment (which I can’t wait to share with ya’ll, once the movie comes out) and it turns out the boy wasn’t thrilled about it. It ended up being one of those embarrassing moments of the teenage variety which I never saw coming and that reality stung. I had inadvertently upset him which upset me.

We got it all worked out but parenting is not for wimps. I was overwhelmed by that reality. I was sort of working through all that when a friend called and I shared with her what had happened. She told me she had gone on a field trip with her preschooler that morning and on the way home asked her daughter if she had fun. “No,” was the daughter’s quick reply. Obviously the child was exhausted from ALL the fun, but hearing that wasn’t easy.

It felt exactly the same as what I was struggling with — you do so much, and that’s no guarantee that your child is going to fall at your feet weeping with gratitude. Oh sure that might happen once in a while. But you also need to prepare yourself for the possibility of a tired child or a growing child or a child who can’t even begin to explain what the problem is except there is one. And that’s when you have to take a step back, pray for a heart full of love, figure out how to make it not all about YOU (about how your WHOLE life is devoted to the care and feeding of their body and soul and do you know how much I love and care for you and lay down my LIFE for you!!?). You don’t go there. Because you can’t. It’s not classy. It’s not right.

What you do is go back to that child and say you are sorry that he was upset, that you didn’t mean to upset him, that you love him so much and next time, if it involves him, you will be sure and run it by him beforehand. And he will say “it’s okay, mom” and you will hug and the music swells (in your head) and all those moments of feeling overwhelmed by the epic task of motherhood, it all comes into focus and you remember that God’s grace is sufficient. It is. Thank you God for that.

6. Basketball season started this week. Practice out the wah-zoo. All the live long day. Better be crying, Argentina. Better be crying hard.

Possible Slogans for this Wine I’m Drinking

Petey’s Malbec: It’s Not the Worst You’ve Ever Had.

Petey’s Malbec: I Think I Can Avoid Spitting Back into My Glass.

Petey’s Malbec: Definitely Not As Bad As Drinking Pickle Juice.

Petey’s Malbec: Cooking Wine You Can Almost Drink.

Petey’s Malbec: You Didn’t Really Need that Esophagus Did You?

Petey’s Malbec: Because Your Mother Would Like You to Quit Drinking Wine.

Petey’s Malbec: What Did You Expect for $4.99?

A Mover AND a Shaker

I learned a nice little writing lesson the other day I’d like to share with you which is this: always go with your gut. Your gut knows, don’t deny it. Deep down, maybe it’s way down there in one of the triple folds of the intestines, but it is there and you need to listen to it. Go with Gut. I’m getting that on a t-shirt.

The other day I posted something here that may or may not have been brilliant. I couldn’t really say. All I know is I sort of pushed through my feelings every step of the way and sort of forced the words out of me. I’ve been reading this great book on writing that is so inspiring and makes me feel so much less crazy, all that good stuff. Except unfortunately for me I started focusing too much on the side of writing that involves the agony of getting the words on the page and sort of ignored the part where a writer writes stuff and then walks away. Or hits delete. Or, you know, adds it to The File, as opposed to hitting publish. Because the book is about writing a novel. Not writing a blog.

So I wrote this thing (again, nothing earth shattering, but nothing I was feeling uber great about either) and every darn step of the way I was like heaving and sighing and just trying to come up with stuff, pushing through feelings of “seriously?” and “are you kidding me?” No, no, Rach! You’re writing about being FEARLESS. So be FEARLESS!!!

Sometimes, being fearless means being willing to NOT say anything. Instead of saying a whole bunch of nothing.

Now here’s the thing: none of it was anything I didn’t believe to be true or didn’t actually feel. But sometimes, we have things swirling in our hearts and in our heads that just are not fit for public consumption. There’s just no need. Have you ever had that experience of a really profound moment or insight, and the minute you try and share it with someone else — even a really trusted kindred spirit — it just sounds awkward and lame leaving your lips?

So I wrote about some things I’ve been hearing God say to me — which I’m not opposed to doing — except I keep sort of touching on the fact that I’m not exactly sure what it all means. And that (here’s a lesson!) is sometimes when it’s okay to leave those things unsaid. Especially if you’re using your swirling thoughts to fill a blank spot that is causing you strain. I’ve made an agreement with myself that right now, in this stage of my life, I’ll write when I have something to say. I can’t write to be “on a schedule” or to make the date on the homepage a little more recent.

But that’s what I did the other day, and then I hit publish and went to bed and the whole time just had this feeling of “ugh.” I tried to trick myself into liking what I wrote by saying (repeatedly) “you never know you that will resonate with!” But again, my gut wasn’t interested in that. It wanted out. (um, not literally, thank God because ulcerative colitis runs in our family but I’m okay so far)

The next day, I was out running errands and doing a few things and it just hit me hard: you know, you can take that thing down.

And so, I did.

I came home and hit delete and immediately felt a wave of relief come over me. Isn’t that funny? Maybe what I wrote was great, I’m thinking not. But the point is that I learned a(nother) important lesson: be honest with yourself.

When I write from the HEART (this is what I’m feeling, this is what’s brewing in that space between my heart and my lips) and not from my HEAD (what should I say today? What should people hear from me?) — I always come out feeling better with the HEART. Because even if it resonates with no one, I know I got out what I needed.

Today Ethan and I were on our way home from the doctor’s (he has a scary rash, on meds to ward off infection) and he was telling me about this awesome interview he heard with a famous musician. The guy has made a million hits and even more money and it was all this hilarious mystery to him — the musician — because he always just picks up his guitar and plays what he feels.

“Can you imagine,” said Ethan, “how amazing he’d be if he actually thought about what people wanted?”

And that’s where it all came into focus, the connection between something working and it not. And I told Ethan that the minute that guy started thinking too much about any of it, that’s when it would all dry up. You just go — you go with God, you go with GUT, but you definitely don’t go with deep analysis and NEVER (unless you have an amazing editor who is demanding pages for your next novel I suppose?) go with anything you can’t stand up for one hundred percent.

On that note, I’m really excited because I’ve decided to add a fashion portion to this blog. I’m mostly kidding. No, no I’m SERIOUS. You’re gonna love it. Be on the lookout.

More Regaling with the Squirrels