Things I Love, Big and Small

I love making lists.

I love when my slippers match my hoodie and joggers. I love nicknames, Harry Potter, painted toenails, raw cookie dough, and soft skin.

I love the curls of steam that rise from a hot cup of coffee.

I love when he lets me put my cold hands under his shirt.

I love how, when I sit down with a cozy blanket, our dog seems to know and she finds me.

I love that I get filled with the warm fuzzies of fondness and affection whenever I think of some of my college professors. I love that I still keep in touch with a handful of them.

I love vulnerability and authenticity.

I love my youngest daughter’s curly, untamed hair.

I love the freckles on my shoulders and on oldest daughter’s nose and cheeks. (I wish she loved them too.)

I love singing “Amazing Grace” with a room full of people.

I love summer days that are 72 degrees with a light wind and I love autumn days that are 52 degrees with sunshine after a heavy rain.

I love the smell of a library.

I love rainbows that stretch across the sky when rain and sun collide.

I love honesty, even when it hurts.

I love, on the days when I am unreasonably irritable and demanding and emotional, he holds my hands in his own and looks me in the eyes and says, “I love you.” I love feeling seen, known, and understood.

I love forgiveness.

I love to give gifts even more than I love to receive them and I especially love when it’s an over-the-top surprise that they never saw coming.

I love that it’s our policy not to kill spiders in our house. I love my love for animals and that my kids have inherited (or learned?) that kind of love too.

I love massages.

I love connecting with random strangers about random things, like the rain we’re both trying to get out of, or the child who won’t stop screaming, or simply because I did something nice like hold open the door for them.

I love adding songs to my next birth playlist, just in case there’s ever another birth.

I love dreaming, imagining, hoping, planning. Praying.

I love how my oldest son and daughter will do a deep dive into subjects that fascinate them, like Greek mythology and spiders and dinosaurs.

I love grumpy old people and mischievous toddlers.

I love babies in sweaters and winter hats.

I love that strawberry jam, Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday make me think of one friend in particular.

I love hearing my husband laughing aloud at what he’s watching on YouTube while he does the dishes. (I love that he does the dishes.)

I love birth photography and black and white images and the contrast of shadows and light.

I love stories about second chances, and unrequited love, and overcoming the odds. I love stories that make me weep.

I love when he calls me “babe.”

I love that my kids love the candied sweet potatoes from my childhood.

I love how my heart leaps when I unexpectedly see a Steller’s Jay in our backyard, beautiful blue wings against the backdrop of a forest of evergreens.

I love new friends who feel like old friends and old friends who never feel new, even with years and miles between us.

I love flannel sheets and flannel shirts.

I love how our “baby,” newly walking, toddles around like an unstable drunk man. I love that when he falls down (which he does, often), he gets right back up with a huge smile on his face and just keeps going.

I love the mullet that forms when a toddler’s hair grows faster in the back than on top.

I love roses and how, when the wind blows, you can smell the ones growing in our yard.

I love long, dangly earrings.

I love maxi dresses and sweaters that slip off my shoulder and cute boots and cropped jackets.

I love my 8-year-old’s long lashes, gigantic eyes, and how she’s never met a stranger. She loves everybody and will say hello to anyone and I often think, I wish I could be more like that.

I love buffalo plaid everything – sheets, scarves, oven mitts, slippers, pillows, purses, paperclips. Everything.

I love a fireplace flickering in a dark room.

I love hospitals and airports.

I love Hawaiian sunsets.

I love a British accent.

I love passion fruit and pickles and eating a spoonful of peanut butter with chocolate chips.

I love Indian food.

I love winter sunshine and summer rain, big hugs, sledding with my kids, reunions, hot showers, and the smell of baking cinnamon.

I love the sound of birds singing on an early morning walk.

I love every doughnut ever made as long as it doesn’t have bacon on it.

I love when I put my hair into a messy bun just right and I look cute-messy and not hot-mess-messy and not old-lady-messy.

I love how our 6-year-old is almost always half-naked when he’s at home and how his laughter can’t be contained.

I love when his little sister comes upstairs after waking up and says in her sweet little voice, “Good moaning, Mommy.”

I love people who surprise me, who make me want to do better, who challenge me, who question me, who take no prisoners and get shit done. I love people even though I also really really love to be alone.

I love silence.

I love lines on a carpet left behind by a vacuum.

I love old houses, old cities, and ghost stories.

I love telling people I have 15 siblings. I love knowing I have 15 siblings after nearly a lifetime spent as an only child.

I love hills that are alive with the colors of autumn.

I love being pregnant and the anticipation and hope of a new life, a future that has just barely begun.

I love newborn babies. I really love newborn babies curled and asleep on my chest, their warm weight, their indescribable but delicious smell.

I love nursing newborn babies a few minutes before dawn, just as the sky starts to lighten. I also love nursing newborn babies next to a twinkling Christmas tree in the middle of the night.

I love how a tween can seem so grown up one minute and, the next, she is playing “bad babies” on the floor with her siblings. I love that she still needs me.

I love Philippians 4:13 and always have.

I love laughing uncontrollably, until my stomach hurts and tears pour down my cheeks.  I love having someone to laugh with. I love people who make me laugh.

I love how, when my 3-year-old has nothing to play with in her carseat, she makes her fingers or her feet talk to each other.

I love dirty chai tea lattes.

I love dusty rose pink, mustard yellow, and olive green.

I love London and how I always feel at home there. I love Australia and all its wonder and mystery. I think I love Ireland and Africa and one day I will find out for sure.

I love the vastness of the ocean and how I always feel in conversation with God when I stand on the shore.

I love friends who text me randomly to say, “Hey, how are you?” or “I’ve been thinking of you,” or “This reminded me of you.”

I love the smell of onions and peppers cooking in a frying pan.

I love that, even as I approach forty, I am still the apple of my mama’s eye and she tells me I’m her “hero” because I do things she would never even dream of.

I love how safe I feel when I fall asleep with his hand on my hip.

I love a good lens flare. I love buttery golden light and bokeh.

I love reading writing that makes me swoon and feeling inspired to write for the first time in a long time.

I love being appreciated and I love being loved. I love being grateful.

I love that there are countless things to be grateful for and that this list is really just the beginning.

(This post was inspired by Ashlee Gadd and Katie Blackburn.)

But You

The sun went down in March
and winter settled in.
As buds sprouted,
the days got longer
but darker
and harder.

We hunkered,
hibernated,
sheltered,
isolated.

We withered.

We thought,
it’s just a season.
But one
became two,
then more.

And some will say
this year is
rubbish,
unforgiving,
thankless,
deficient,
defective
unholy.

Some will say
no good has come
from this year.

But—

You.

The first thump
of your heart.
The first kicks
to my heart.
The first cry
that ripped
my heart
wide open.

There was you
and your warm,
solid weight
in my arms.
Your first smile.
Your first laugh.
The comfort of knowing,
not all is lost
if there is you.

The year was cold,
but—

You.

The year was empty,
but—

You.

You
shined a light
into the corners,
lifted the darkness,
eased the ache,
calmed the waters
that rocked
my soul.

It was an ugly year,
a long winter,
but I felt the sun,
because—

You.

The Anchor

My baby,

In this world
where we hoard,
we hunker,
we hide away,

where the news
tips us towards
panic
and we can’t
hug and hold
our friends
or our neighbors,

where drive thru coffee
and takeout meals
are the best
we can do,
and feel like
a blessing
and a gift
when so much else
is being taken away
from us,

You are my anchor.

I feel you kick,
and I know
life will go on.
Life continues
even as time
seems to stand
still.

I feel you wiggle,
and I know I’m not
alone.

I hear the quick
thump thump thump
of your heartbeat,
and I know
God is good,
God is here,
in me,
in you,
in all of us.

We are not
forsaken
or forgotten.
Only forgiven
and loved.

Baby,
as the world
falls apart
and we cling
to hope,
you are the
reminder
that I need.

It is you
who is
holding me
together.

To the Baby I May Never Have

Dear Baby Who May Never Come to Be,

A year ago, I gave birth to my youngest child and with that, I gave birth to the possibility and hope of you. She was born in a birth story that wasn’t what I wanted, but she was warm, and snuggly, and perfect, and I just knew she couldn’t be my last one. I just knew, almost instantly, that we are meant to have one more. You.

But your daddy isn’t so sure and I don’t know that you will ever be anything more than a persistent and painful longing in my heart. I don’t know if we’ll ever get to meet, you and me, solid warm skin to solid warm skin. Will you ever leave the place of possibility and come into the now? Will you ever exist, except in the yearning that grips me from the inside and won’t let go? Will you ever exist, except in the divide that separates Daddy and I? You are there in that great crevice, small and fragile but also loud and big to me, because you wander through my thoughts a thousand times a day. You are there, but I fear you may never be here. With me. In my arms. The arms that long to hold you.

There are days when it’s as if God Himself has told me you will be mine. I am that sure of it. You feel so real to me that I can almost see your cherub face and smell your sweet newborn wetness and hear the tiny sighs and chirps that you would make in your sleep. Maybe it’s just muscle memory, given that I’ve had four before you, but it’s as if I can already feel the soft weight of you against my chest. Sometimes, I can even see the outline of you in a vision of our future. I can see how you would fit into our lives and I know you are exactly what’s intended for us. But then there are other days. Other days when it all feels like a beautiful dream someone wakes up from, tears on her cheeks and a sinking in her heart because she knows it’s not true and never will be. Those days are painful days, thinking of a life without you.

So there are lots of unknowns right now, Maybe Baby, and that is hard for me, who finds peace and security in knowing as much as I can always. But here is what I do know: I think of you often. I pray for you daily. I plan our lives as if you will be a part of it. I want you as much as I have ever wanted anything. And not just because I want to give birth again, which I do, very much. But because it feels as though there is room for one more inside this house, this family, and our hearts. Contrary to what I once believed, I’m not sure that this family is yet complete. I think we are waiting for you.

And if I’m being honest, in my heart, you belong to us already. You are ours, part of our story, a piece of my life and future and the fabric of who I am. Whether or not you ever exist in the here and now, one thing will always be true: you are mine and I am yours. The rest — all the details — is up to God. I will go to war for you, Baby. I will not let this break me, or Daddy, or the beautiful combination of Daddy and I together as best friends and life partners, but I won’t give up on you either. I will fight for you. I will fight for your existence, for your life. I will do all I can do. And then I will just release it into God’s hands. He is the All-Knowing and He knows me and He knows you. You, even the possibility of you, are His. I take comfort in that.

To me, you are kismet. And I don’t know if that’s intuition or foolish hope, but I believe there is a purpose to this desire I have inside of me. I hope that purpose is you. And I hope, with time, we’ll discover that you were always meant to be. Baby, you are wanted and loved. Come to me if you can. I’m waiting.

Love,

Your Maybe Mommy