hangin’ onto coffeecake crumbs…
some weeks all it takes is a grocery store coffeecake, under a clear plastic dome, slapped with a bright orange sticker; its price slashed in half.
some weeks when you are a mama, or any plain tired old soul, when you’ve been through the wringer, feel ready to fall, wish like anything for arms to fall into–even the arms of your favorite old chair–some weeks all it takes is a stroll past a plastic-domed cake.
to feel your heart wobble a little.
to think, that’s the thing.
i’ll carry it home.
plop it down on the table.
make like i’m paying attention. making home feel a little like home.
instead of the wasp’s nest. or the hurricane. that it’s felt like all week.
for 16 years now–come monday, that is, when my firstborn strides round that big 16 bend–i’ve made it my job, my no. 1 job, to try to make certain that here in our house there’s a wrapper of love.
i remember the moment, clear as could be, that i saw in my head the picture of this brand of love, the one i would traffic in, once my firstborn was born.
a clear-walled bubble it was, unpunctured. no beginning or end. all-encompassing. a shield that would keep out the bad, and seal in only the good.
oh, it bobbled at first, that bubble of love. took a stumble or two, back in the early few weeks.
where is the room, i kept gasping and asking myself, for breathing and eating and thinking whole thoughts, here with a babe in your arms, with a heart that is suddenly, utterly, yours to protect?
right off, my instincts went deep, didn’t swerve or look back. fact was, i’d never felt love quite like this love.
like falling it was. like i wouldn’t ever let up, let a crevice or crack of darkness seep in.
my love would be fierce, would be always. my heart and my arms would be harbor. in time, so would the walls of my home.
over the years, as i’ve said here before, i chiseled my own solid gospel of everyday grace, of the comfort and beauty that is mine to bring through the door. to set on the table. to tuck under the sheets. to stash in the drawers.
oh, but these last few weeks, i’ve felt i could hardly keep up. could barely patch together a semblance of peace, or of calm. or dinner at six.
so i, like a swimmer out there where the water’s too deep, i keep grasping. for lifelines and buoys.
and plastic-domed cakes.
i’ve run out of words, out of steam, too often of late. it’s all i can do, some sorry late nights, to chase my sweet little boy straight up the stairs, to tuck him in bed, and race through the prayers, and let out a sigh as i pull shut his door.
and feel rather sad that i’ve not done it all better, this rare grasp of life with a child of seven. and one who’s nearly 16.
so the crumb of the coffee cake, there on the grocery store shelf, at the end of a very long week, it whispered to me, offered a promise of lifting the day to a richer beginning.
it might make a friday different from thursday. offer a break from the cornflakes and milk, of monday till now.
it’s all i could do, that cake for $2.49. to tell the boys that i love that i’m not giving up. i’ll not forsake all my vows, my promise made long, long ago.
i’ll be the shield and the light. i’ll sew stitches of grace. scatter dewdrops of beauty.
i’ll leave coffeecake crumbs in my trail.
long as they lead us all home, to here where our hearts thump the most loudly.
question: what brand of love did you set out to spread in the world? do you think much about it, or just simply live it? who taught you loving, or was it born straight from your heart, or from heaven itself?
do you ever resort to shortcuts, or secret morse codes, to spell out your love, when words and hours run short?
I want to send you some homespun love. The kind you have spread over your loved ones for much more than these 16 years. You sound weary my friend. I, too, would like to provide a peace filled zone and often resort to far less than perfect patchwork of tricks. We are not as young as we once were. Working and mothering and volunteering and and and don’t come as easily. Heck, I was in bed before my 9 year old last night and up after her. A shift is coming. Hang onto the coffecake crumbs or whatever helps. Have a cup of tea, I’ll go get the half price treats and we can start anew tomorrow.
Saturday, June 20, 2009 – 07:26 AM
God bless you my long time faraway friend. ahhh you are a nurse aren’t you? quick to sniff out an aching heart, quicker still to reach out and try to heal it…….
your words bring more comfort than you can know.
here, have a slice yourself, beautiful.
Saturday, June 20, 2009 – 03:52 PM
Oh how it sounds like you’re having a time with this transition! Big hugs.
I will tell you, though, as someone raised by a single parent – my father – who worked hard all day and then came home to the chaos of three adolescent girls – children completely understand that you love them deeply – even if you’re not home right when they get home from school. I know you’re feeling stretched in so many directions – but you’re lucky because you know which way is true north. And that’s always going to be your guide.
Store bought coffee cakes are a good lifeline, I think. As is a cleaning person….
What my father taught me more than anything – that parenting requires trust, holding close but knowing when to let go – and most importantly, the shared dinner. That’s our brand of love – sharing a meal or two each day, whenever possible… doesn’t matter much what the dinner is, just as long as it is shared with the ones we love.
Saturday, June 20, 2009 – 04:13 PM
There wouldn’t be store-bought coffeecakes if there wasn’t a market for ’em … I’m standing in the grocery line behind you!
Saturday, June 20, 2009 – 10:12 PM
ohhhh lord the accumulated wisdom here…..anne, your wisdom from your father passed along to us….i live by those words. and bless you for polishing them off and putting them back on the table.
and pjv, you and the grocery store line just made me melt off my chair. i know you too are getting used to whole lot o’ changes in the dinner-on-the-table, mom-at-the-door dept.
xoxoxox to both of you….
Sunday, June 21, 2009 – 09:23 AM
Your children know, through plastic covered coffee cakes, but through so much more, your deep and abiding love for them. The acceptance, the warm circle of your arms, the embrace of your family even in the midst of the helter-skelter of errands, work, sports, and all else that whirls around — they know. Rest, now, for a moment, and breathe, knowing that the love with which you surround them is 99.9% of all they need. The rest is good, but the love — that’s the most important.
Sunday, June 21, 2009 – 03:56 PM
Today I made a cherry pie from scratch. Dough, filling, the whole nine yards. Even though I (like many others) had the week from hell, and was tired and hurt’in, I made a pie for my Dad. As I stood there pitting cherry after cherry, with the juice staining my hands and fingernails, I thought “now this is love.” And that is what it was, and I felt good about that pie. I think it was the most satisfying thing I did all week.
Sunday, June 21, 2009 – 07:54 PM
p.s. But then I cooked frozen chicken for dinner! So, everyone needs a shortcut here and there…
Sunday, June 21, 2009 – 07:56 PM
isn’t it a powerful thing when we are hit with thoughts such as “this is love,” as we work with our hands to extend the boundaries, the definition, the expression of that boundless, undefinable thing called love?
ivy, next time you are up in this part of the universe will you please convene a pie class, dough, filling and all????
Monday, June 22, 2009 – 10:41 AM
Well I’ll be….haven’t been here for awhile and yes, weary seems to be the word. i’ll look back in a moment for more filling in the picture.
Love is a red magic tin can that had a little slip of paper inside it and I made sure I mixed it’s ingredients in with everything I made (or brought home pre-prepped), made sure the little eyes followed my hand springkling the “magic” ingredient in…
And sure some times, you do the best you can do and sometimes that’s just the thinnest making do, the tiniest trace of frosting…but still, love lingers.
So my friend, I’ll read on but I must have read this today just for you, to share with you….listen you!
“….I am beginning to respect the apathetic days. Perhaps they are a necessary pause, better to give in to them than to fight them at your desk hopelessly; then you lose both the day and your self respect. Treat them as physical phenomena-casually-and obey them.”
Monday, June 22, 2009 – 07:12 PM
You generate so much love laden energy here through your words. My own weariness is lightened even as you speak of your own.
Sunday, June 28, 2009 – 07:39 AM