Love is a Pink Shirt

Things I believed in when I was young: unicorns, super powers (okay…I may still kind of be hanging on to that one…), Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the Chupacabra, and happily ever after. As I grew up, I wondered if I would ever be able to attain the fabled ideal – true love. I, by inherent design, was/am a skeptic, not a romantic. The world we live in really doesn’t help the case for real love.

Love can be harsh. Most of the time it’s confusing. A lot of the time, love hurts, like really hurts. The big question is that if love is the potential pinnacle of sucktitude, why do we even try? What’s the point of putting ourselves on the line, making ourselves vulnerable for what could be our eventual downfall? What the heck IS real, true love? Does it even exist or has it gone extinct like dinosaurs or purple leisure suits?

Last Saturday night, my husband and I rushed to a hospital in Appleton, Wisconsin. We were told his grandfather didn’t have much time left on this earth. If we wanted to say our goodbyes, we needed to do it asap. When we got there, the room was full of family visiting. True to our usual form, there were many funny stories and sarcastic one-liners being thrown around. Grandpa was sleeping and fitfully so. His breathing was labored and his color was drained. There, hanging on to his left hand, was Grandma. I stood on the periphery of the room mainly observing while throwing in a random comment here and there. What I observed, touched my heart so greatly.

While conversation floated around her, Grandma gently stroked Grandpa’s hand and softly placed kisses on top of his knuckles. Every now and again, she would smooth his white, whispy hair. The silent tears she wiped away made a few slip from my own eyes.

At one point, my sister-in-law commented how pretty Grandma looked. Her hair was curled and she had a sweet, pink shirt on. Grandma replied, “I wore pink because this is Ike’s favorite color on me.” Then she went back to touching the back of his hand and whispering to him now and again.

That moment has been playing around in the back of my mind for the past few days. Especially now that Grandpa has passed on. In that moment, I saw the greatest example of real, true love. Love isn’t grand gestures and pricey gifts. It isn’t the perfect words or always doing the right thing. It’s holding someone’s hand when they may not even know we’re there. It’s being by someone’s side as long as we can no matter how tired, or scared, or heartbroken we may be. It’s all of the little things that add up to something great.

Love is the incentive to wake in the morning. Love is what helps us laugh when what we really want to do is cry. Love keeps us going when all we want to do is quit. Love is the smile we need. Love is the squeeze of an aged hand to let us know how special we are. Love is a crinkled smile. Real, true love goes beyond any romantic ideal. It’s real. It’s scary. Sometimes, it hurts. Like really, really hurts. But, it’s so worth it. If I can ever attain the smallest fraction of the love Grandpa and Grandma shared, my life will be a success.

So, if I ever start to question or get cranky or discouraged or try to hold any of my relationships to some impossible ideal, I will remind myself of one thing:

Love is a pink shirt.

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“Pink Sweater and Blue Clothesline” – Tomie DePaola

 

 

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I Am Not Enough

Okay. So, you’ve read the title but stay with me. I’ve come to terms with a truth and thought I would share it with you. When it comes to being a mom (and really everything else – wife, daughter, sister, friend…), I am not enough. Believe it or not, I do not mean that negatively but realistically.

Last week, I posted this on Facebook:

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The struggle is real, people. I have three children in sports and one who does a lot academically. They each have something going on at least a few times a week and without fail, all those places to be seem to fall in the same time slot. What’s a mom to do?

I’ve always admired those moms who seem to have it all together. Their kids are awesome and look great. They’re the moms who are at every event sitting there looking all put together and relaxed. I’m the mom that rushes in – usually late – and sits down agitated because as soon as this one is over, I have to rush to the next one.

I know exactly what you’re going to say, “Now Becky, we mustn’t compare ourselves to others. We never know what someone else is going through. Remember that you are doing better than you think.” First all, I’m not comparing myself to everyone else (for the most part), just making general observations. Secondly, I have to be doing better than I think because at this point I don’t think I could do much worse. Positive thinking, right?

Last night, I had a mom dilemma. I had to be in two places at once – LITERALLY (and I mean like the proper use of “literally”). I did my best to split my time and left my daughter’s softball game to take my son to pick up his Little League Uniform with the intentions of hustling my booty back to the softball field in time for Parent’s Night with my daughter. I rushed as quickly (with minimal speeding) as I could from picking up my son’s uniform but…

Yep. You guessed it. I was too late. My daughter took it all in stride but it broke my heart a little. I had to face the truth. I am not enough. How is it possible for a mom to be enough? The simple answer – we can’t.

After the kids went to bed, I did what any mature mom would do and sat down to cry for an hour or two over what a terrible mom I am. After the tear-well done run dry, I tried to put things in perspective. I came to the same conclusion: I am not enough. I am never going to be enough, HOWEVER, that’s okay.

On the way home from my epic failure, I had a hard time not letting a couple of tears fall. My 11 year old son was in the car with me. He asked me why I was upset. I explained that I was sad that I had missed something so important for his sister. That I was having a hard time being there for him and his siblings because I just can’t see to be everywhere at once. After a few beats of silence, he did the most amazing thing. He reached out and held my hand and we rode in silence that way for the rest of the way home. What a wonderful heart to know just what I needed. That made me realize that there must have been some moments where I was enough and was able to teach him or influence him to be such a sweet young man.

In those times when I can’t be enough, I need to lean on others for help. There is no shame in being a mom who needs help. If you are the Pinterest-cut-your-child’s-sandwiches-in-art-worthy-creations-mom, you’re awesome. You’ll get no Pinterest shamming from me. If you are the I-haven’t-showered-in-three-days-and-I-just-found-Cheerios-in-my-bra-but-I-don’t-remember-eating-Cheerios-mom, I think you are awesome too. Call me if you need a nap and I’ll do what I can to help and maybe even bring you something besides Cheerios to eat. If you’re somewhere in-between, excellent! If you’re like me and have those moments when you feel like an utter parental failure, you are not alone. Seriously. Ask for help. Lean on someone. Just know that no matter how perfect that well put-together mom who brings the awesome snacks for her kids and seems to have the patience of a saint is, she has meltdowns too. She even forgets important things AND she can’t be in two places at once either.

I am not perfect. She is not perfect. You are not perfect.

I’m not ALWAYS enough but SOMETIMES I am. So, I don’t know about you but I’m just going to work on being realistic. I’m going to cherish and relish those moments when I am enough and be thankful when they happen because what it all boils down to is I am so happy to be a mom. I have the most amazing children who make me laugh, make me smile, make me cringe, make me roll my eyes, make me cry, and make me so very grateful that they are mine. They are the absolute best thing I’ve ever done. They’re fabulous and I love them. The kicker is? They love me even though I’m not perfect.

I don’t have to be “enough”. I just have to be their mom.

Christmas is My Mother’s Voice in My Head

Recently, I was asked what is Christmas to me. I gave the rote answers about the birth of Jesus Christ and how it is the season of giving. We had a nice conversation and went our separate ways. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that to me Christmas is my mother’s voice in my head.

Anyone who knows my mom knows what a beautiful singing voice she has. When I was a child, she frequently could be heard singing as she was cleaning or cooking. Matter of fact, her singing was a good indicator of her mood. She played records a lot and if she was singing along with the records, all was good. If she wasn’t singing, you probably should quietly back away from the kitchen.

I learned how to sing by sitting next to her at church. She did this thing where she would sing soprano on the first verse, alto for the second, tenor for the third, and if there was a fourth verse she was all about that bass. (Sorry…couldn’t help myself. The awesome part is that she probably won’t get the joke.) My childhood was full of music from everything to choirs to community plays/musicals and even singing The Messiah. It was awesome.

One of my absolute favorite things to listen to was to her sing “Silent Night”. You see, she always sang this beautiful descant. I don’t really remember a time that she didn’t sing it. It’s like it was just always there.

Each Christmas, I look forward to hearing Silent Night because the coolest thing happens. Even though my mom is almost 2000 miles away. I hear her voice. It’s amazing because in that moment I’m 7 or 13 or 18 or 22 and sitting next to mom. Memories of Christmas flood back in an instant. I have a Grinch moment where my heart grows three sizes only mine wasn’t two sizes too small in the first place but I guess that’s beside the point. Christmas to me is my mom’s voice in my head. Crystal clear, right?

Christmas is the memories we make with the people we love. Christmas is having a Christmas movie-a-thon with your sibilings all the while quoting every line of every movie. Christmas is your sister creating the Nativity out of all of your Cabbage Patch dolls. Christmas is helping someone else have something when they would otherwise have nothing. Christmas is going out as a family and cutting down a tree and letting your husband pretend to let the tree fall on him. (If you know mine, that will make sense.) Christmas is family gathering together outside at 7:00 p.m. in the dark on a Saturday night to go sledding when it’s only 5 degrees outside – even when you reeeeeeeeally don’t like the cold.

Christmas is watching my kids try to figure out who their Secret Santa is that made their bed or left them a note. Christmas is the quiet of the night once all of the kids have gone to bed and I can sit in the living room and enjoy the lights of the tree and the falling snow. Christmas is the time we spend together and the memories we create. Yes, there are some very special gifts that are given to us along the way but the reason they mean so much to us is because of who gave them to us and the thoughtfulness behind them.

I don’t mean to take away Christ in Christmas. I think all of this falls in line with the honoring and celebration of the birth of a Savior. It’s service and love and family. It’s our connection to life and each other. Those connections are the basis of our existence here on earth – to love and lift each other. Take the time to pause and look around. Cherish each opportunity to be kind.

And, if we’re lucky, those connections and memories will allow us to feel close to those we love no matter how far away they may be.

Merry Christmas.

Wonder Woman Taught Me How To Raise a Strong Son

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to see the latest re-imagining of Wonder Woman. She is someone who I always wanted to be when I grew up – not so much the Linda-Carter-strapless-swimsuit aspect but the smart-butt-kicking-lasso-wielding-cuff reflecting-invisible-jet-flying-character. When I asked my kids if any of them wanted to go, I had two takers – my 14 year old daughter and my 10 year old son. My daughter was a given but not necessarily my 10 year old son. I talked to him before hand to let him know this was serious movie. DC has always been darker than Marvel. He still wanted to come. In all fairness, I pretty sure it was the promise of theater popcorn that was the ultimate draw.

My expectations of the movie were exceeded. I hoped so much that this movie would give us a strong female who was a warrior and one with heart who fought for those who needed it. Nailed it! The fighting sequences were AMAAAAAAAAAAAZING. I actually wrote a note to myself to learn the knee-sliding-sword-slicing move. Gal Gadot was everything I wanted in a Wonder Woman.

FYI: Potential Spoilers from here on out.

What I didn’t expect to happen was that my 10 year old son would teach me a lesson before the movie was through. Without giving away too much, this movie has a lot of death. The writers do their job of making the viewers get connected to the characters before they kill them off. That’s their job and they’re good at it. Unfortunately, my 10 year old has a very soft heart. Feel free to judge me – I knowingly took a soft-hearted 10 year old to see a PG-13 movie. But I’m glad I did. He reminded me that for all the stereotypes we have for women, we have them for men as well.

After one scene in the movie, he asked me whether the character had died or not. I nodded my head and saw the devastation seep in his eyes. He did his best to sniff back the tears and wipe his eyes with his t-shirt as discretely as possible. I just patted his back and told him to not let it get to him. It’s not real. However, that statement made me a hypocrite. Why? At that point, I had already gotten teary-eyed at least four times. Basically, I was telling him it was okay for me to cry but not for him. Whenever he cries over something, I always tell him to toughen up or I roll my eyes and get frustrated. Boys aren’t supposed to cry so much, right? Says who?

He held it together the best he could until we got to the car. I was just getting ready to put the car in gear and drive off when he buckled himself up and proceeded to try to hide the fact that he was crying. Ask yourself while you’re reading this, what are your thoughts? Do you think he’s a sissy? A baby? Why? If it was a daughter crying and not a son, would it make a difference? I put the car in park, got out, went to his door, opened it, and put my arms around him. He immediately went on the defensive, “I know it’s not real but it’s just super sad!”

In that moment of holding my 10 year old while he was trying to defend his tears, my only goal was to make him understand that tears don’t make you weak. I tried to explain, “Someone once told me that a soft heart doesn’t make you weak. It means you feel things when others don’t want to. You feel things when others back away because they are uncomfortable. Having a soft heart doesn’t mean you’re weak. Nope. It means you’re strong. You’re strong because you’ll see things that others don’t and you’ll be able to help people that others won’t. Nothing is wrong with tears. Strong people cry because they refuse to hold onto something that will hurt them.”

Watching Wonder Woman made me realize a few things. She is not only a character embodying feminine power. She embodies power and the will to help everyone – female or not. Wonder Woman is not just a movie for women, it’s a movie for girls, boys, women,AND men. It’s for whoever can take something from what was said or what was seen and make a positive step because of it. A little too deep for a movie about a comic book character? Perhaps. I believe we find meaning anywhere and anytime we happen to be open to it.

My goals used to be to raise strong women and compassionate men. I’ve amended that. I want to raise strong, compassionate women and men. Some of the strongest men I know cry. Some of the softest women I know fight. It’s time to stop boxing people up with some inane, sexist assumptions. Honestly, I think our main focus in this life should be the same as Diana’s/Wonder Woman’s purpose and set out to help others. She is a great example to follow – whether you are a boy or a girl. Be a fighter when it’s needed. Be emotional when you need it. Most importantly, be yourself…whoever that may be.

John Wayne + Thor = Dad

In everyone’s life, there are moments that leave us forever changed. The ones most of us share involve the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus. They are usually moments that hurl us from the cusp of childhood into an in between – not quite young adult but DEFINITELY not adult. The most life-changing realization for me was when I discovered that my dad was, in fact, human.

Let me start by saying that I am a stereotype – I’ve always been a Daddy’s Girl. He’s my friend, my buddy, my pal. He’s my confidant, my sounding board, my kick-in-the-butt-when-I-need-it deliverer (don’t judge my grammar right now – that’s not why we’re here…). He always seemed invincible. To the childhood me, he was an actual super hero – the strongest, toughest man ever. It’s like if John Wayne and Thor had a brother, that would be my dad.

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Growing up, my dad always made us stack wood. He could be frequently found running the wood splitter. When that thing kicked in, we all made a unanimous groan of dismay. One day, I heard the splitter and cringed as I REALLY hoped he wouldn’t come get me to work with him. A short time later, the splitter stopped and my dad was nowhere to be found. Apparently, he broke(?) his wrist when it became caught between the splitter and a piece of wood. Immediately after it happened, he knew he wasn’t going to be able to “walk it off” (his favorite piece of advice to us…) so he drove himself to the hospital. See. Super tough, right? Nothing could hurt him.

Unfortunately, as it will do, time had a way of cracking my safe bubble and thrusting me into reality. I saw my dad get hurt which was really weird for me. In comic books, when Superman or Thor would get hurt and the worst was assumed but the next issue would clear things up and we would see that their powers saved them. Even John Wayne could always find his way out of a nasty situation. (Except for in “The Shootist” and “The Cowboys”. We don’t talk about those.) I just always assumed the same thing would happen for my dad.

And unfortunately, as it will do, time changes things and people. It moves things in unexpected directions. We are expected to recalibrate, adjust, and move on. For an adult, it can be difficult. For a child, it’s dang near impossible.

When I turned 13, I knew the absolute truth – my dad was a human being. It freaked me the heck out. How could this have happened? Where was the infallible Superman I always knew? I was very unsettled but my dad, the human, seemed to know what to do. He laughed at my jokes – even when the were lame. He encouraged my dreams – even when they were foolish. He supported my choices – even when they were the stupidest decisions ever. He loved me – even when I was not very lovable. He became one of my most favorite humans…and still is. The most amazing thing happened, I realized that he was treating me like a human, like an equal. It turned out being human wasn’t so bad.

In spite of my caustic-smart alecky-sarcastic-sometimes brutal-self, he still doesn’t mind when I’m around. I think he’s actually one of my biggest fans. I mean, who could blame him? I AM pretty awesome. What is probably the most surprising thing is that even when I was a bratty little kid, he loved me and liked me. When I was a moody-goth-“woe is me”- preteen, he loved me and still liked me. When I was an antagonistic teen, he loved me and actually liked me…while dreaming of whopping my hind end.

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What it boils down to is this: dads are human and that’s okay. If you’re just discovering this truth, take a cleansing breath, have a good cry, and straighten your spine. It’s all good. The way I see it, not all superheroes are from another world with super powers. I mean, Batman doesn’t have any superpowers. He IS pretty rich and can just buy power, but we won’t get into that.

Let your dad be human. Let him make mistakes. Basically, let him be himself the way he does for you. If your dad has even 1/10 of the awesomeness mine does, cape or no cape, matching shirts or not, you’re pretty dang lucky.

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What’s that? You want to know what I meant about the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus? I may need some help with that…Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaddddd!

 

 

 

 

Takes One To Know One

When I was a little girl, I used to play in the shelter of our carport. Arizona summers get pretty warm (I know. Thank you, Captain Obvious…), so the shade of the carport was an absolute must for outdoor afternoon playtime. Underneath the carport was a small retaining wall that surrounded windows to our basement. I loved walking back and forth on that wall. It was nothing more than rough cement but to me it was the balance beam in my illustrious imaginary gymnastic career. One day, while trying some daring moves, I slipped and fell. I must have thrown my hands out to catch myself because I scuffed up the palm of my left hand pretty badly. I remember a lot of dirt and blood and pain. I remember the panic of not knowing what to do. I did what most kids would do at a moment like that – I yelled for my mom. I swear she was there before I even finished calling. I may have strung out my call a little bit, but she was there…like magic. She fixed me up, gave me a hug, and I knew I’d be okay.

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Fast forward to my fifth grade year. We always rode the bus to and from school. Any kid who has to ride the bus knows how eager you feel to get off the bus. No one wants to stay on a second longer than necessary. After a particularly stressful day (Don’t laugh. Fifth graders have stressful days too.), I was sooooooooooooooooooo ready to walk through the door of my home and be done with the day. The bus driver stopped, my sister and I got off, we looked at the driver for the okay to cross the road to our house, and he gave it. I walked across the road but didn’t make it all the way. The young driver of a pickup truck thought he could hurry and get by instead of having to wait. There was a feeling of pain in my forehead, a weightlessness as I flew through the air, and more pain as I landed back on the ground – face down. With both my parents at work, my aunt who was a nurse at the time came to get me. She checked me over, treated me, and took me to my grandmother’s until my mom could come get me. I toughed it out. No tears from me even though I had a goose egg on my forehead and massive road rash on my arms that my aunt had to scrub all the gravel and dirt out of. No siree…no tears from me. My mom rushed in my grandma’s house. The moment she walked into the room all those tears let loose. She picked me up, gave me a hug, and I knew I’d be okay.

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When I was about thirteen, I got really sick. It started out as your run-of-the-mill cold but lingered and worsened. It ended up turning into bronchitis. My mom took me to the doctor to get some antibiotics to help me heal. That was all good in theory. That night I became super ill. I couldn’t keep anything down. Every 30 minutes, my stomach tried to send a rejection letter via my mouth. Apparently, I was allergic to the antibiotic. Who the heck is allergic to antibiotics? Well…me. Knowing timing was everything, we rushed to the ER in between the *ahem* rejections. It was a long wait. I know it was. It had to be so frustrating for my mom because she had to get up and go to work early in the morning. But she never said a thing. Never complained. She just took care of me, gave me a hug, and I knew I’d be okay.

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At 18, I was loving college. For the first couple of semesters, I lived at home with my mom. She was awesome enough to share her car with me – a pretty, red Grand Am. Anyone who knows my mom knows she loves red. We worked things out that while she was working, I could have the car to get to and from home and classes. Then I would get the car to her so she could go to her classes after she finished work. As I was heading to class on one particular day, I came to the train tracks by the campus. I was crossing over the train tracks when I realized there was a car that was not stopping at the stop sign. I guess I was a little lucky because I had slowed down to go over the tracks. I wasn’t lucky enough though because the driver ran the stop sign and plowed into the driver’s side of the vehicle. It spun me around and left me stopped a few feet from the tracks. I tried to open the door but couldn’t. I tried to kick it open with my foot only to experience EXTREME pain. I had messed up my foot. A friend of the family who also was a policeman, and on-duty, drove up shortly after. He called my mom and then worked to get me out. My mom was able to get a ride to be by me. I believe my first words were, “I’m so sorry about your car.” You see, it was her dream car. She loved it so much and I smooshed it. With tears in her eyes (and a few in mine), she told me she loved me more than a car, gave me a hug, and I knew I’d be okay.

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There are so many moments in my life where something has happened where I was hurt, whether it was a physical hurt or a hurt of the heart, and my mom was there to help me, give me a hug, and assure me I’d be okay.

I called her today to wish her an early Happy Mother’s Day. I love talking to her, offering sarcastic replies, and making her laugh. She has the best laugh. If you love listening to her beautiful singing voice, you should hear her laugh. The kind of laugh where you take her off guard and the laugh escapes before she can stop it. As we were hanging up, she wished me a Happy Mother’s Day and told me what a wonderful mother she thinks I am. Hours later, I’m still thinking about that and I’ve come to a conclusion. When my mom told me what a wonderful mother I am, I should have told her more than just “I love you”. I should have told her thank you for all the late nights when she took care of me. Thank you for all the times I was hurt and she was there in a blink. Thank you for all the times when my heart hurt and she just hugged me because a mother’s hug is the best kind of medicine. Thank you for all the times she let be me – awkward, caustic, weirdo me. More than anything, when she told me that she thought I was a wonderful mom, I wish I would have said that it was because of her.

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So, this is for my mom but the rest of you are welcome to read it too.

Mom, if I am a wonderful mom it’s because of you. I know none of us are perfect but I can’t imagine anyone loving me more than you do. I know I drove you NUTS (and still do). I know I worried you sick sometimes (and probably still do). I know I made you cry sometimes – sometimes happy tears, sometimes not (I hope I just cause the happy ones now). You have the most amazing heart of anyone I know. Once you take someone in, you keep them there. It’s a very esteemed privilege to be loved by you. I’m so incredibly grateful and humbled to be one of them. Thank you for teaching me how to love. The world is a beautiful place because you are in it.

And you think I’m a wonderful mom?

Well, it takes one to know one.

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

 

You’ve Been Remade

When I was young, we had a wood burning stove inside our house. It was one of those that protruded from the wall with a step up from the floor. There was an open area of the hearth on either side. Even though we lived in Arizona, it still was chilly during winter mornings and nights. One of our favorite games to play was to run up to the stove, turn so our butts were facing the stove, and stand as close as we could until our butts and the back of our legs were roasting. Then we would run and sit as quickly as possible on the couch so that heat gave us a nice little flash burn. What? Some kids eat paint chips. We tried to see how close we could get to fire without getting third degree burns.

My little sister and I always took our baths at night. Cool temps and wet hair do not a comfortable situation make. Once we were done with our baths, we would race from the bathroom wrapped in our towels – no streaking allowed – to stand on either side of the stove. We would then proceed to rotate like a hot dog on those convenience store rollers – to make sure to distribute the heat evenly. One evening we ran our usual race to the stove which was stupid because there were two sides to the stove and only two of us. We didn’t have to race; we were both going to “win”. On this particular evening, I must not have been paying attention or was super cold and misjudged the heat and the efficiency of my towel coverage. I had no sooner stood next to the stove to bask in the warmth when I heard a sizzle and felt an instantaneous shot of pain. My right thigh had not only slid out from underneath my towel but also got a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttle too close to the stove. I jumped back and looked. Sure enough, there was a perfect line of skin that had been burned off.

I didn’t want to get in trouble so I never said anything to my parents. Falling in accordance with children’s logic, I believed that if I left it alone and just forgot about it it would go away.

It took awhile to go away, but it did heal. The only thing was that it left a weird white line of scar on my leg. What was really funny was that as I grew, the scar changed it’s position on my leg and progressively moved towards my hip. It was a constant reminder to be very cautious around that stupid stove.

So, at this point, you may be asking yourself why I’ve just made you read a random memory about a careless moment from my childhood. Recently, I had a conversation with someone I love very much who has been going through a tough time. There have been some major things that have happened to this individual. The recent struggles, truthfully, would completely crush the average person. As I listened, all I could think of was there was no way I could have made it. When discussing a particularly heartbreaking event, this beautiful person asked, “How do you get over something like that?” At the time, I did not have an answer but just offered a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on.

Since then, that question has been looping through my mind -“How do you get over something like that?” It made me reflect on some major obstacles in my life that I’ve overcome. Man, they sucked. I had moments when I really didn’t know if I would make it. There were things that happened that changed me but I don’t think I ever “got over” them. However, I don’t think we are supposed to. I don’t think we suffer a heartbreak, work through sorrow, and then move on like nothing ever happened. Heartbreak, trials, death, betrayals – those things leave a mark…but that’s okay.

I have lots of scars on my body. Besides the line from the stove, there’s the one from when I fell off my bike and tried to make gravel angels with my knee, the one on my forehead when I tried to head butt the fender of a moving pickup truck, and the one on my lower abdomen where they had to retrieve my breech-positioned son. I also have scars that you can’t see. Ones that reside within my heart and mind. There’s the one from when a childhood friend died of cancer, another from when my parents divorced, ones from numerous heartbreaks and lost loved ones. No matter where the scars may be, I need them. I need them to remind me of where I’ve been. One of my favorite quotes is from the book Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. She had a scar that she hated and was a little embarrassed by it but her husband “said it was interesting. He used the word ‘textured’. He said ‘smooth’ is boring but ‘textured’ was interesting, and the scar meant that I was stronger than whatever had tried to hurt me” (1). I need scars to remind me that I am stronger than I think I am.

Scars are kind of cool. You see, when we get cut, or burned, or whatever, our body forms new layer to fix the wound. That new protective layer becomes a scar. “That new scar tissue will have a different texture and quality than the surrounding tissue” (2). So think of that question again – “How do you get over something like that?” When something truly horrible happens to us, we get a new protective layer. Sometimes that layer is self-produced. Sometimes that layer is produced through the love of others. It doesn’t matter how it is produced what matters is that IT IS THERE. Just like any other wound, when it’s fresh, it’s hard to see how it will ever be healed. It’s hard to know exactly what to do to treat it. What do I put on it? Should I just ignore? If I don’t pick at it it will go away, right?

 

Here’s the deal though, you can help to aid the healing process. When I burned my hip, I never told my mom. I really should have. Luck must’ve been on my side because it could have gotten all nasty and infected. Not only would that have lengthened my healing time but could have caused more damage along the way. My problem? I’m a teensy bit stubborn. (Everyone who knows me well just rolled their eyes and that slight understatement.) I don’t like asking for help. When you are hurt, don’t rely solely on a self-generated protective layer. Turn to someone to help you build a protective layer. Let them help. Don’t let your wound cause more damage along the way because you are ignoring it in hopes it will just go away. Once a protective layer is in place, build it up and rely on it. And, when the scar is formed, own it. You were stronger than what tried to hurt you. Because of that, you have another layer of texture and another layer of quality. Smooth is boring and texture is interesting.

When you find yourself lost and questioning, just remember: you don’t get over something. You throw on that protective layer and let that something get over you. You will not be the same. There’s nothing wrong with that. You’ve become upgraded…

 

Sources

  1. Walls, Jeanette. GLASS CASTLE: a memoir. S.l.: SCRIBNER, 2005.
  2. “Scars and Your Skin”. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/scars