Readiness is All

dane - organized closet

When he says “Walmart” it sounds like “varmint,” and I can’t entirely disagree. But we go there anyway to buy a lunchbox because he is Going to School this year for the first time.

I registered my firstborn in a simple, non-threatening 2 ½ hour preschool class: just two days a week to ease the two of us into this school business. But in a series of strange, last-minute events, he ended up in the Tuesday/Thursday Extended Day class, which means five hours of preschool at a pop…and lunch away from his Mama.

Dane wanders the aisle, eyeing the colorful array, the cacophony of characters – Superman and Spiderman and Buzz Lightyear and Barbie. He settles, finally, on a generic car lunchbox that lights up when you shake it.

When we walk toward the cash register, he holds his choice proudly and shouts, “Hey anyone! I got my lunchbox! I’m goin’ to preschool!”

*

During my senior year of high school, I had a somber, brilliant Literature teacher. Her no-nonsense approach and her deeply-rooted frown lines made me nervous in those first days of class, but she had a way of knocking the old, dusty classics free and making them feel relevant to the lives we were leading. She soon became my favorite teacher.

She took us through Hamlet the spring of that year. The air was thick with expectation as prom and graduation approached and life as we knew it sped to an end. She read Hamlet’s line, “Readiness is all” with slow deliberation and let it hang in the air.

It was her last year before retirement, our last days of high school. It was more powerful than any sermon, the way she spoke the words into that room. Change comes. All you can do is be ready.

*

I know this week. It comes every year – one last gasp of soggy, unbearable heat – and then autumn. I feel change coming deep in my bones.

I have a hundred thousand emails to return. Posts and articles to write and projects to finish and a second book to write. But it keeps running through my mind Readiness is all. So instead, I assemble a new shelf for Dane’s closet and we spend the afternoon organizing. I label his dresser drawers with pictures of clothing and we work on putting everything away in the right spot.

I buy him school supplies. I purge the toys that we’re too old for now and label them for a garage sale. We talk about preschool and decide what we’ll pack in his lunchbox.

When Liam goes down for his nap, I lie on the living room couch while Dane circulates between play and television-watching. Every few minutes, he wedges himself next to me and kisses my nose. “I love you my beautiful Mommy princess,” he says, and I don’t really know what any of this is supposed to look like. I don’t know the best way to get us ready for this new stage of our relationship, of his life.

But I think it involves these tender moments of snuggle time. The careful organization of his bedroom. The cleaning. The purging. Letting go of some things. Getting ourselves excited about others.

readiness is all

During college, I had a kind, brilliant writing teacher. She was the first to connect faith and writing for me – to point to the powerful ties between the written word and the Spirit. She taught me the holiness of noticing…and I think it goes hand-in-hand. Readiness and noticing. I think the two are essential to one another – two sides of the same moment.

I ran into her a few months ago at an event and she took me aside. She wanted to know about the book coming out. She wanted to know if I was ready, and I couldn’t really articulate the intensity of my conflicting emotions. My excitement. My fear. The way I feel so exposed, having my secrets out in the world for people to judge as they may. The frenzied pressure I feel about producing another book in just one year – something that I’m proud of. Something that’s beautiful. So instead, I just burst into tears.

She encouraged me to notice the things that I was feeling. To pay attention. To surround myself with a few kind, honest voices who could speak Truth to my soul during this time.

And I know enough to know that having a book published won’t change my life. At least not the most important ways. My people will still love me exactly the same.

But it will make my insides visible in a new, vulnerable way. It will leave my heart exposed and my past displayed and my language up for theological debate. And I don’t know how to be ready for that.

*

In the mornings, the sun is rising later and later, the darkness hanging lazily over the pond until after six. Change is coming. Readiness is all.

Today, we’ll organize the playroom and look for a toddler bed for Liam at a garage sale. I’ll get the school supplies ready and fill out the paperwork. I’ll snuggle with my nearly-preschool-aged boy. I’ll say I love you so many times that he’ll sigh, I KNOW Mom.

I’ll blanch more tomatoes from the garden and get them ready for canning. I’ll think about how soft and exposed they are without their skin – but also, about how this is what allows them to last. To stand up over time. To be preserved for the long winter.

We’ll hang a hook for Dane’s backpack. We’ll mop the floor. I’ll pack up a few more advanced review copies of my memoir and take them to the gas station/post office. I’ll breathe a quiet prayer as I stand there at the counter, noticing all the feelings washing over me. I’ll notice the way the postal clerk smiles. The smell of coffee and donuts and gasoline and stamps. The way my kids almost break all the toys at the end of the aisle.

I’ll let the books disappear into the Out-bin, into the world, and then I’ll scoop up my growing-up-kids and go home.

31 thoughts on “Readiness is All

  1. The tomato analogy…beautiful. I’m in a similar life stage right now. Twin boys off to preschool for the first time in a week and a transition of my own as well. Thank you for this lovely reflection.

  2. I love you. And I love this the best: “I know enough to know that having a book published won’t change my life. At least not the most important ways. My people will still love me exactly the same.”

    Because lately? My priorities? A mess. And this helped with that not so gentle shift that God is working in my. You are lovely.
    Also … massive Kudos for remembering anything from high school english / lit.

    1. Hahaha. Yes, probably one of the only things I remember from high school classes. And the thing about knowing a book won’t change my life? Learned that from other writers who have been there. So easy to forget. So important to remember.

  3. I love this, Addie. It gave me chills that bespeak truth. I feel it too, the coming change. There seems to be something in the air, and it’s more than humidity. (I even wrote about it yesterday.) I’m not splaying myself open with published words, but my third child goes to kindergarten this year, and my oldest is in junior high and I only have one left at home. I have grown enough to not fear change, but to ready for it. And so the wave behind me swells.

  4. “I’ll think about how soft and exposed they are without their skin – but also, about how this is what allows them to last” Your words always seem to articulate my own journey. Thank you for being so honest and transparent. I’m really looking forward to reading your book.

  5. Our youngest has just entered kindergarten and walks with her brother to school as he is the veteran school-goer as a second grader. My wife has recently cut back her hours, now only working two days a week. She’s really looking forward to being involved at the school.
    We’ve endured several storms in recent years, and I tell her I feel we are coming into a season of change. I personally feel more exposed and vulnerable which I’ve learned is near taboo for a husband/father/man to admit.
    This was excellent, Addie! Readiness is all…

    1. What Leigh said. And this: maybe the thing I love most about your writing is that it’s true. True in a ridiculously deep and authentic sense. God knows how much we need more truth around here.

  6. You make art out of all the ordinariness. And I’m so grateful you share that gift with us, friend.

  7. i can’t speak to your readiness, but I’m so excited to read your new book! so what i’m saying is that WE’RE ready.

  8. Sigh. Gorgeousness here. . . of course. What a wise teacher (and after reading your FABULOUS book, I’m glad to know there was one at your school. . .I know a former art teacher from there, so I was aware of some of the problems you so beautifully outline). I love this phrase – readiness is all – and will try to hang onto it. Because even at my advanced stage of life, change keeps happening. Oh, yeah. Beautiful post, Addie. Thank you.

  9. I always love your words, Addie. Today, I am walking with you, trying to get ready for my own battles in the upcoming weeks, my own changes, and reminding myself that my people, and indeed, my God, will still love me when it’s all over and changed. Thank you for being honest, and for being a little bit of a big sister to me. 🙂

  10. We’re never ready are we? I remember hearing “God never gives you more than you can handle” more times than I can count -especially in the last few years- and thinking, but I feel so overwhelmed. And, truth be told, I always blamed it on my inability to get ready the right way… But that was so wrong, I wasn’t ever ready and, truth be told, I probably never will be, but He is ready enough for me and for you and for all of us. And, that’s where the grace and faith come in so valiantly. I guess ready might be overrated, though I’m still striving for it so deeply.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

^
Back To Top