When I say that I am strong, I mean this: I have been broken in a thousand pieces. I have been fused back together by grace.
In the eight years that I have been married, I have said things I should not have said, done things I should not have done. I’ve ripped him with barbed sarcasm; I’ve let anger win over love.
But also, I have stayed in this thing all the way. I have sat cross-legged on the living room floor until we worked it out. I learned how to cook fish in a hot skillet because it’s his favorite.
Our jokes are getting a little frayed around the edges now, but we still laugh, doubling over in the kitchen over something not-that-funny, while Dane runs in circles around us. When we attend a belaying clinic at the Y, Andrew climbs fearlessly, trusts me to hold him up even though I am still, always, learning.
Every Sunday night, I plan the week’s meals. Healthy meals. Good meals. Recipes I’ve pulled out of glossy magazines. I make detailed grocery lists, painstakingly noting each ingredient. But around four o’clock on Tuesday, I realize we are out of milk and I forgot to buy paprika, so we have frozen pizza picnic-style in the living room instead.
The kids are hungry, and I am trying to finish a press release, tweet a blog link, jot down a beautiful sentence. I am always saying “Just a second.” I am always multi-tasking, always letting someone down, always a little bit unbalanced in my priorities.
But I can’t stop spinning the words under my eager hands, because this is my calling too, just as I am called to hold these children, teach them, wipe their tears. I get up at five, when the world is still dark. I drink too much coffee. I write imperfect things.
I try to sew a quilt from Andrew’s old t-shirts, and it looks a little off. The squares don’t quite match in all the corners; the hurried seams are coming undone. But he naps under it anyway on Sunday afternoons, his breath peaceful, even under this threadbare display of love.
We are playing backgammon while the dishes sit, unwashed in the sink. I am sitting with Andrew, watching a movie instead of catching up on freelancing. And it might seem like the bread of idleness, but I know better. I am learning that what seems like waste is really love.
Dane reaches up first thing in the morning, says, “Mommy hold you.” I walk in the door, and Liam smiles like the sun, and this is how they call me blessed. Andrew puts his arm around me as we walk, and it’s a thousand words of praise.
When I say that I am noble, I mean this: crow’s feet and stretch marks and blonde hair turned darker with age. I mean that my floor is covered in crumbs and I am still in my sweatpants at two in the afternoon and my kids are wearing garage-sale jeans. I mean that I am enough, just like this, just as I am.