The House that Built Me

When I was 5-years-old, Grandma bought me a duffel bag out of a Harriet Carter magazine. Because what a quintessentially grandmotherly thing to do. It was pink and had a little blonde girl screen printed on it, and H-U-N-T-E-R emblazoned across the top. Along the bottom, in bright yellow letters it said “Going to Grandma’s”.

Most Fridays I would pack that duffel bag and take it to school with me. When Grandma and Grandpa picked me up on Friday afternoon, that was it. All bets were off. I was “Going to Grandma’s.”

I spent more time in that house than anywhere else in my 26-years. As a little girl, I scuffed up the hardwood floors running in and out in the summer. As a teenager, I learned to drive in the neighborhood streets. As a wife, I brought my husband and baby girl there to eat pancakes cooked on a griddle from 1954.

The house has looked the same since they moved in. No re-decorating. They didn’t even move the furniture around. When I hit the door, whether at 6 or 26, Grandma was either in her black rocking chair, or standing in the kitchen.

But here we are, and the final papers are signed.
906 Plainview Drive is no longer “Grandma’s house.”

My sisters and I went through her 88-years of life. Clothes and quilts, newspaper clippings of 4-H talent shows, pictures we’d colored in 1994. We took down pictures and emptied cabinets.

It looked so much bigger with everything emptied away. The shell that held a home. And I want to cry for everything that I had.

The house that built me.
Standing at her stove, wearing a red apron, Grandma taught me the prayer to say to ask Jesus into my heart.
Laying in the back bedroom, I learned that books and words could create power beyond measure.
Laying on the couch after knee surgery, I experienced servant love while she washed my hair in a pan.
Building blocks in the living room, I learned to start all over again when the tower falls.
Watching ‘Anne of Green Gables’ on the old VCR taught me about passion and heartache and laughing and growing up.
It was the house that built me.

And it always smelled like mashed potatoes and sugar cookies.
It was that house that built me.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

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This Is As Good As It Gets

I don’t have a very good memory. Things that go into my head get lost a lot.
I like to think that it’s because I’ve got so much knowledge from all my years of living that there just isn’t enough room, and so I have to filter out a lot of things.

But the reality is that it’s mainly just useless Disney trivia, a lot of facts about Abraham Lincoln, and the entire script to Forest Gump.

Either way, I don’t have a lot of moments that stick out in my mind, so the ones that do usually mean something.
I have this distinct memory of a field day in the fourth grade. Mom took off work for the day to volunteer at the parent booth, and the Italian ice truck came to the school just for us. I ran in the sack race and won a medal, and momma was there cheering, and I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I have a distinct memory of a Friday night my senior year of high school. About eight of my closest friends were all crowded onto a single trampoline with a bunch of comforters. We were staring at the stars and waxing poetic about the fear of graduation and the future and how much we loved one another, and I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I have a distinct memory of sitting in the front room of the house on Chestnut Street my junior year of college. I was surrounded by the greatest women in the world and we were all singing along to ‘Forever Young’ and with one another, thinking it could be true. We really could be forever young. I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I remember walking through the Colonnade after a Saturday afternoon tailgate and football game, holding hands and laughing with a cute boy with dimples and the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. We ran through the fountains and back to the Castle, and I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I remember walking down the aisle of a church with that same blue-eyed guy waiting at the end. I remember the part of the service that he leaned down and washed my feet to promise he’d always love me and serve me. And I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I have a distinct memory of walking on a park track, 9-months pregnant, holding the dog’s leash while the sun was setting, huffing and puffing attempting to encourage Rosebud to just be born already. We got in the car to drive home, and Doc said: “This might be the last day when it’s just the two of us.” And it was. And I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I remember having contractions and thinking: “This is absolutely as bad as life gets.”
Pause. Shudder.

I have a distinct memory of being in the hospital the night after Rosebud was born and looking over to see Doc holding her and staring at her for hours. And I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I have a distinct memory of a summer afternoon that we all three spent together, working in the garden, swimming, and the smell of Doc’s grill. We spread out a blanket in the back yard and had a picnic, and ended the day on the patio swing. It felt like nothing in the world could touch the three of us. And I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

Now. Please don’t get me wrong. These perfect days–more like snapshots–were surrounded by moments and days where I just didn’t know if I would make it through. But memory often colors those bad days.

In every season of life, I keep thinking I’ve peaked. Nothing could be better. My heart it so nostalgic, and it  aches to see chapters close and these seasons end. I forget to look ahead toward what good could come, and instead I dread the unknown.
I fear the things I can’t see.

So if today you’re sitting on the cusp of the unknown–take heart in knowing that there are good days ahead. Even if you think that today is as good as life can get.
Rest in the peace of the One who knows exactly what tomorrow holds.
Rest in the peace of the One who is preparing you for your best day. When it really will be as good as life could get.

And take heart in the fact that somewhere out there, I’m just as scared sh*tless as you are.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

Grandparents

Grandma and I have fallen into a routine of sorts.
I go in and help her pick her clothes for the day, wash, and dress. I get her dirty laundry, bring it home to wash, hang up the shirts and fold her socks.
It’s funny the way something so foreign can become so familiar so fast.

Smells you used to notice when you walked in the door don’t seem nearly so strong by now, and strange sounds in the hallway fade into the background.

There’s really no secrets between us at this point. It’s our new “normal.”

I noticed that her papery skin was getting dry and cracked so I picked up some Aveeno lotion and brought it with me. I was rubbing it across her shoulders and my mind was wandering at all the weekends and summer vacations I’d spent at her house. And this is our life now.

I brushed her hair. I trimmed her toenails and fingernails and painted them ‘shell pink’–her favorite. Rosebud’s favorite, too. Then I got her Taco Bell because she’ll be 89-years-old this year, and I think if you live that long you ought to be able to eat what you want, when you want–salt or no salt. And if what you want is a Mexican pizza, two tacos, and a root beer, then so be it.

I have no idea why I’m even writing about any of this except to process it myself.

She looks at me the way I used to look at her. Expectant. Like I have the answers, when really I’m just trying to figure out how to manage all of this.

All of our lives, grandparents have this special ability to make us feel so loved no matter what.
Growing up, we know our parents love us, but they also carry the burden of disciplining us. There’s always that risk of getting in trouble–because they are charged with shaping us as people.

Grandparents, on the other hand, just get to love without the hindrance of the “you can’t do that’s” and “I said no’s.”

Or at least if you’re as lucky as I’ve been.

My grandparents had this special ability to make me feel so….precious.
Loved isn’t the right word. And neither is special.
They made me feel like I made their world a beautiful place.

When I would spend the night at Grandma’s house–whether I was 6, or 16–she would come into my room at night, pray with me and kiss me and tell me how much she loved me.
And I believed her.
That no matter what I did in life and no matter where I went, her love and her prayers would go, too.

Yesterday before I left the nursing home, I helped her change into her nightgown–all of the awkwardness about modesty and whatnot washed away by this point. I leaned down to hug her and she kissed me on the cheek and told me “Thank you. I love you so much. You’re precious to me.”

And just like that I was 5-years-old again, holding Grandma’s hand as we took one of our walks.
I cried the whole way home because it’s hard to see the hands that cooked you a million pancake breakfasts fumble over buttons.
I cried the whole way home because I’d give about a million dollars to go back in time for just one day–to get up at 1 in the morning just to eat cinnamon toast and watch an old movie together–for no other reason than to be together.

But mainly, I cried the whole way home because even now, when there’s nothing she can really do or give, she still makes me feel so loved and so precious.

One year for Mother’s Day, we got Grandma a wall hanging that said “God couldn’t be everywhere, so he made grandparents.”
And with my grandparents, I’ve gotten to experience the truest, most unconditional love this side of Heaven.
And I hope you have, too.

Love and Other Drugs,
E. Hunter W.

 

 

Are You There God, It’s Me Hunter

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with life that I could scream. The vein popping out in the middle of my forehead, really red-faced and sweaty type of scream.
Not that it would do any good. Like, at all.
It’s not exactly a healthy way of dealing with emotions, and it would scare the bejeebies out of Doc and Rosebud.

Lately, I’ve been tried. And I fear that I’ve been found wanting.
I keep waiting to find my footing, only to slip again as soon as I’ve found it.

The setting up of our first home and all the mishaps and curves that go with that, all of the everyday up and downs of raising a kid and all of the fear and uncertainty that accompanies it, AND trying to keep up with Grey’s Anatomy. That seems like enough, but then throw in medical school and crazy hours, me going back to grad school, trying to complete my internship placement to graduate, the job search, a locked up jaw, and an 88-year-old woman completely dependent on me and well, let me just tell you, there are days I want to hide under the covers and never emerge.

Because I’m 25 years old and I never thought I’d be responsible for so many things so soon. Life is in fast-forward at 8x speed, and I’m almost positive that I hit pause the spring semester of my senior year in college.

If this blog reads like one really long list of complaints to you, well, that’s because that’s exactly what it is.
A self-pitying, stomp my foot, temper tantrum of words.
This is me, standing outside, screaming to the Heavens: “CAN THIS GET ANY WORSE?!?” And then rain, a tornado, and a house fall on my head.

This is my “why me?” post.
Are you there, God, it’s me, Hunter, and I could really use a break. And if you’re feeling particularly generous, also could you do something about those student loans? Med school, though.

ANYWHO.

On top of it all, I have this tendency to internalize everything. Why is it my business to have constant anxiety about the public deficit? Or about the drought in sub-saharan Africa? Or how does the Internet really even work?
The pressure keeps building and it feels like it’s coming from everywhere at once. I have nursing homes calling me, Medicare representatives coming out my ears, life insurance policies to switch around, a toddler that I have to feed, a husband that would wear plaid with stripes if I didn’t keep an eye on him, and my dog constantly has a really weird smell wafting off of him.

I feel like I’ll collapse under the weight. Maybe I’m not as strong as I thought I was and so I second-guess myself. Then I look around and everybody’s hurting and I don’t know why and there’s nothing I can do, and…..See. See what happens when I pick up steam.

Do you do that? Do you ever feel so lost in all the mayhem that you just want a remote control to push STOP so you can finally catch your breath?
Don’t. Don’t do that, Hunter.
Don’t ever press STOP. Don’t ever wish your struggles away.
The truth is, no. We can’t control our circumstances or the things life throws our way. We never will be able to, and the sooner we recognize that, the better off we will be.
But it is always, ALWAYS our choice on how we cope, on how we rise.

When you find yourself wondering where all the good in the world has gone, remember this: Goodness still exists even though life is hard and cruel, and even though people suffer.
Cling to this truth: God’s goodness was never meant to take away the world’s suffering, but to provide a refuge in the midst of it.
The ONLY thing that God’s goodness erases, then, is hopelessness.
Because if God is good, then there will always be Hope: even in the presence of so much struggle and injustice that we want to scream.

My tiny, human brain looks around and says “Ew. This isn’t fair. I don’t like this anymore, God. No thanks.”
We see the hurting and say God must not exist. Not in a world this bad. Or even if He does exist, He must not care. Or maybe He’s just cruel.
We can’t perceive the ways in which the suffering we’re railing against contributes to the eternal benefit of the only real Kingdom that matters.
It matters. The struggle matters.

Hope.
Hope is the basis of our faith. Not a happy life. Not everything going right. Not the absence of struggle.

And remember. A diamond is a hunk of coal that did well under pressure.
So shine on, dear people. Shine on.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

Expect the Unexpected: Parenting a Toddler

Parenting a toddler is a funny place to be. Not funny like ha-ha, but funny like sometimes you find yourself weeping in dark places and saying things like “QUIT HIDING THINGS DOWN YOUR PANTIES.”

Parenting a toddler isn’t an easy job for anyone, but for a Type-A, planner, it’s particularly daunting. Because they never do what you want or expect them to. Even when you beg. Especially if you beg. No matter how much time/thought/effort you put into planning days/events/outfits they will step in and step up and shoot those plans to H. E. double hockey sticks.

A few examples:

Your plan: beginning your week by hitting the ground running. There’s a lot of work and studying that needs to be done and not a minute to lose.
Toddler’s plan: waking up and finger painting on the wall using the poop in their pull up.

Your plan: dress your toddler like an angel for church, and they’ll smile sweetly, fold their hands to pray, and sit silently listening to the sermon.
Toddler’s plan: play in the pile of dirt beside the car and ruin their dress, drag their feet to scuff their shoes, give every sweet old lady who calls her precious the stank eye, yell “I NEED TO GO POOP” at the top of their lungs during silent confession, and every 35 seconds say: “Look, my Barbie is naked,” while being shushed.

Your plan: an uneventful drive to drop Rosebud off at school and then head to work.
Toddler’s plan: nonchalantly drop her first curse word, momentarily stopping your heart and causing you to jerk the wheel and swerve the car off the side of the road.

Your plan: arrive everywhere 15-30 minutes early.
Toddler’s plan: arrive everywhere unfashionably late so that everyone in the room turns and looks when mom and dad stumble in with everything but the kitchen sink packed in a baby bag.

On Saturday, Doc got a lesson in toddler plan destruction. As I mentioned in a previous post, our anniversary was this past week. To celebrate, Rosebud is going to spend this coming weekend with her grandparents and Doc and I are going to dress up in something besides scrubs and jeans and go to dinner.

Unbeknownst to me, Doc and Rosebud snuck away to the mall and purchased a beautiful Pandora bracelet and charms. He planned to surprise me with the bracelet at dinner.
In doing so, he made one vital mistake: letting Rosebud in on the plan.

Saturday afternoon, one week before the big reveal, Rosebud walked into the living room and said: “Daddy. Where’s mommy’s surprise?”
Doc panicked, and stammering and stuttering, attempted to throw Rosebud off the trail.
“You mean the candy bar we were going to get Mommy? We ended up not getting one. REMEMBER, ROSEBUD??”

“No, Daddy. We got it at the mall. We got Mommy bracelet at the mall. I think it still in the car, Mommy. Want me to get it for you?”

I’ve never seen Doc’s face turn so red so fast, and he and I both burst out laughing.
And even though she had no idea what was going on, Rosebud laughed, too.

He brought the bracelet in and I unwrapped it in a dirty kitchen with a sink full of dishes instead of in a romantic restaurant, and wearing sweats instead of a dress and heels.

Doc apologized. “I’d planned on a little more pomp and circumstance, but I hope you love it just the same.”
Planned.
But the plans fell through. And I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

In ten years, Rosebud is going to be entering her teenage years, and she probably won’t even want to go to the mall with her kooky dad, let alone to pick out a bracelet for the mom that may or may not be ruining her life. And when I look down at my wrist, I’m going to remember the eagerness and excitement shining in her eyes when she ripped out the tissue paper to show me what Daddy got for me. And the pride that was in her smile when I told her how much I loved it. And that memory will sustain me on the lonely days when she’s gone off to college and I’m dreaming of the days when I’d wake up in the middle of the night to her jumping in bed with us, covered in marker, and screaming “LOOK AT MY TATTOOS.”

I love plans and lists and step-by-step instructions. I don’t really get much of that during this season of life.
And the funny thing is, I’m finding out how beautiful the unexpected can be. And that sometimes the best laid plans really suck compared to what God and your 2-year-old have planned for you.
So when things don’t go the way you expected, chin up–closed doors and opened windows and all that jazz.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

The Day I Stomped Out My Daughter’s Fire

The past few weeks Doc has been on surgery rotation. That means early mornings, long days and late nights. It’s left a lot of time for Rosebud and I to be alone. Which is a little a lot exhausting and a lot of awesome. That includes Sunday mornings.

If you’re a church-attending mom, you know that Sunday mornings are the Super Bowl of motherhood. If you can get yourself, your husband, and your child(ren) out the door wearing clothing that covers all the important parts, hair free of breakfast crumbs, nose free of boogers, and walk into the sanctuary by the time the choir finishes singing their first song then yes, you deserve a ring, a trophy, two Reese’s cups, and a glass of wine. (Panty hose runs and wrinkles are acceptable under these conditions.)

With Doc gone, I’ve been taking on the sole responsibility for getting Rosebud and I to the Lord’s house with as few tears and as little swearing as possible. This past Sunday I was attempting to wrestle her into a pair of light pink stockings, and she was attempting to escape the torture. The conversation escalated.

“Honey, I need you to stand still for mommy.”
*Continued wrestling

“Rose, sweetie, let me get you dressed so we aren’t late for church.”
*She starts throwing elbows

“1….2…”
*Grins maniacally

(Angry voice) “ROSE. STAND STILL RIGHT NOW.”
She jumped, all the fight drained out of her body, tears the size of the hope diamond ran down her cheeks, and with a shaking voice she cut straight to my heart. “Mommy. That scare me to death. Mommy. You scare me to death. That too loud.”

If you could only know the guilt that swept over my at that very moment. I looked up, half-expecting “World’s Worst Mother” to appear tattooed across my forehead. I hugged her close to me and rocked us both. “I’m sorry baby. I’m sorry I did that. I love you so much. I shouldn’t have done that. I love you.”

She was deflated.
With five little words, I had stomped out my Rosebud’s fire. One of the things I love most about her.

Sure, she got over it. She’d forgotten about it before we even got to the car, singing ‘Old McDonald Had a Farm’ all the way to the church house.

But it stayed with me.

And I started to wonder at all the other ways I’d stomped out her fire.
When I brushed away the chubby hands attempting to tie her own shoes because we were in a hurry, maybe.
Or when I rushed through our bedtime routine trying to get to my chores so I could finally relax.
When I pulled her along when she tried to stop along the sidewalk to examine a leaf blowing in the wind because I had 15 minutes until I had to be at the office.

Doc and I constantly struggle with finding the balance between ensuring Rosebud is well-disciplined (see: not a spoiled, little brat) and trying not to break the wild spirit that we love about her. And it’s not easy (see: the hardest thing I’ve ever done). How do I mold her into a positive, contributing member of society while keeping her true (and crazy) personality in tact? How do I teach her to stand up for herself, but remind her that we’re in charge?

It’s particularly interesting for me because I see so many of my own character traits mirroring their reflection in her. How am I supposed to discipline Rosebud for losing her temper and getting frustrated when she can’t immediately grasp a new technique or task when I DO THE EXACT SAME THING. Or when she looks at us in the middle of the prayer at church and says: “I can’t be quiet, I need TO TALK.”–when well, that’s my fault, too. And I especially can’t get after the kid for sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night to read books. It’s like God said “Oh hey, Hunter, did you need further insight into all the weirdness that is you? Here ya go. Here’s you in toddler form. Good luck.”

My whole pregnancy I spent praying that my child would be as patient, laid back, and easy going as Doc. Instead, in a cruel twist of fate, she’s as wild, high maintenance, short-tempered, and as fiery and passionate (about EVERYTHING) as I am. But goodness, do we love her for it.

One thing is for sure, I will never have to worry about Rosebud standing up for her beliefs or voicing her opinions and speaking her mind. God help us all and look out world.

Here’s to all you people with a strong willed child–may you have the wisdom and the strength to temper their spirit without breaking it. And good luck on Sunday mornings. Yeesh.

Oh, and here’s to all you people with a strong will…may all your children take after their fathers.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

 

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I mean, come on….this is the sass I live with.

As We Sat in a Hospital Cafeteria Sharing a Romantic $3.00 Quesadilla and a Cherry Coke

On January 26, 2013, I stood in a foyer holding a bouquet of ivory roses. I was shaking so hard that the petals started to fall off. I tried to peek a glance over the shoulders of the attendants, but height isn’t really a thing in our family, so even if I’d been tall enough to see over them, Doc wouldn’t have been tall enough to be seen.
I was so nervous my teeth were chattering.

The rest of that day is kind of a blur. I remember locking eyes with Doc on my way down the aisle and well…that’s about it.
Three years is a blink. Close your eyes and open them and there..there were three years right there.

Today we celebrated by fitting in a lunch date at the hospital cafeteria in between his pediatric rotation and my dentist appointment for TMD. We held hands over a $3.00 chicken quesadilla made by a man in a hairnet, that Doc assured me would “change my life”, and a Cherry Coke (my favorite). We talked about health insurance and medical billing and he reminded me to call the doctor’s office when I got home. We discussed Rosebud’s school enrollment and when we’d have time to take Grandma to the mall.

And after 20 minutes, we stood up, threw away the trash, kissed goodbye and that was that.

No grand gestures or giant stuffed animals, and not one heart shaped box of chocolates was to be found. But I walked out of that hospital cafeteria floating on the same cloud I was floating on in 2012, after our first date to Puerto’s in Bowling Green, Kentucky. (Shout out to the Is Special). Wait–what is it with us and Mexican food? When Doc found me, we were just a boy and girl, make believing grown up in a college town. Today there are a few more years, a little more responsibility, and a lot less thirsty Thursday. And a little Rosebud.

Doc likes to tease me about it, but the truth is, I knew 2 weeks after we started dating that I was going to marry him. Not in a creepy, stalker way….but yeah, totally in a creepy, stalker way. It was mainly because every time I was around him, I calmed down. That’s weird. That sounds weird. I know that’s weird.

See–I live my life at 115 mph. I run around half-wild in a high-maintenance, panicked craze. I fight to control every little detail of the world around me and when I discover (as I inevitably do) that this is an impossible task, I crash. When Doc came around I settled down. My hands stopped jittering and my mind stopped swirling and I was finally able to relax. He quieted my soul.

The world wants to tell you that the best high is the rush, the danger. But that’s just the thing. Maybe we need to stop looking for our speed and find our stability instead.

I found mine in a patient boy with an Eastern Kentucky drawl that has an affinity for bowties, and has an old soul, a gentle spirit, and sunshine in his smile.

Thanks Doc for being my calm in the middle of the storm and for setting my soul at peace.
And even when life is so crazy that we only have time for a drive-by quesadilla, I’d pick Doc out of a room full of Fijis and ask him to formal all over again.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

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When It’s Your Turn: A Tribute to Aging

We all think growing old is this exercise in grandiosity. But the reality is that one day you aren’t “old”, and the next day you are.
One day, you’re 10-years old, running on strong legs through a field, holding your sister’s hands, and the next you’re 83, with arthritis, burying her.
One day, you’re 16-years old, falling in love for the first time, and the next you’re a widow at 80.
One day, you’re laying your head in your mother’s lap, and the next your great-grandchild is being born.

I know what I see what I look at her. I see a life that’s already been lived. I see age spots and wrinkles and streaks of grey. I see the sunset of life. I see the age but the not the years that brought it.
But who does she see looking out of the mirror? The 88-year old great-grandmother; or the 17-year old on her way out the door to greet life? Does she see the sun rising?

She was born in 1927. Two years before Black Friday. She’s lived through a Great Depression, a World War (II), Vietnam, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Korea, and 14 presidents. She’s lost a son and a husband and she’s found a lot of things in between. She has lived through trials and rejoiced in triumphs.

At 88 she’s no longer painting houses or sewing past midnight. She shuffles instead of running. Her medicine prevents her from driving, and her independence is waning. She needs help. And I feel woefully inadequate and unprepared.

Her hands seemed to always move so swiftly. Knowing innately what to do and how to care for me. Anticipating my needs and wants before I knew them.
My hands seem clumsy as I help her move the button through the hole.

The way she used to pull the cover up around me when she thought I was asleep.
I did that today, and my hands lingered. Realizing the way the roles had reversed.

I heard her rustling around in the kitchen and yelled “Don’t forget your blood pressure medicine,” the same way she used to remind me “Wash your hands before you come to the table,” or “Brush your teeth after that ice cream.”

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven. A season to be young and a season to age. A season to be cared for, and a season to do the caring.
I have come to understand that the wrinkles and age we fight against so fiercely are gifts. And they fill my heart.

Lord, grant me patience for the privilege of doing the caring. Because life is a cycle and everyone’s season will come.
Help me be patient.
Help me be willing.
Help me be present.
Help me be thankful.

It Is Time
She is pancake mix and chocolate chip cookies and pink lemonade.
She is butter cups and knockout roses and yard sales on Saturday mornings.
She is evening walks and holding hands.
She is the nighttime reader who always said yes to “just one more.”
She’s seen the worst the world can offer, and remained good.

She’s the gift to my childhood–flesh of her flesh.

I knew this was coming.
I thought I was ready.
But I am the little girl again, not wanting to go home.
Please, please let me stay!
Please, please let her stay.

She will go one day.
“It is time.”
And I will be different.
How very much I love her.
How blessed to have her in my world.
How blessed to have lived in her’s.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

I Will Watch You Go

There is a famous picture of the gradual evolution of ape into man. Each transition is drawn to perfectly illustrate the different phases of change. Sometimes I feel like that’s how I’m watching Rosebud grow–a gradual evolution into adulthood.

My stomach turns at the thought of it and my heart does somersaults in my chest as each week, each day, every single minute she grows further away from me. And I watch her go. Because that’s what I’m supposed to do. As Rosebud’s mother my job is to cultivate in her that independence so that it can grow in the fertile soil of her heart and mind. But I selfishly I want to squash it. I selfishly want to hold her back beside me.

There’s not a word for when everything is nothing and all at the same time. And that’s probably because what I just said doesn’t make any sense. Motherhood turns life into one walking contradiction. The things that bring the most joy break our hearts. If I do my job right, Rosebud will grow up and will live her life. Every new milestone is something  to celebrate, but it’s one step closer to the jumping off point. And honestly, I wonder if any human’s soul can be strong enough for that much joy, fear, and pain bottled together in the perfect storm.

There are things I never knew until I met Rosebud. And things I wish I still didn’t know. My head understands that this is the way the journey must unfold. That the universe is stable. That I have to let her go. More importantly, that I have to let her live–to experience the beauty and the brokenness, perhaps especially the brokenness. But my heart…my heart is screaming “HOLD ON JUST ONE MINUTE LIFE, YOU CAN’T HAVE MY BABY.” I want to plead and bargain with God to pave the way for her–make everything easy, to spare her from any hurt.

But I watch her go. And sometimes the world feels as if it may suffocate me. But I stand back. And I let her climb up the steps and slide by herself; and I let her struggle with the straps on her shoes, and I teach her how to brush her own teeth and button her own buttons. And one day, I’ll let her sit behind the wheel and leave me in the rearview mirror. And one day, I’ll leave her in a dorm room crying. And one day, I’ll have to sit back and watch her fall and make her own mistakes and work hard and succeed. Because that’s life. Because that’s what moms do.

So I promise you this, Rosebud; despite all of the overwhelming joy and terror and helplessness and excitement and loss and beauty that I may feel about your life, I will watch you go. I will stand back when you want me to, and sometimes when you don’t, and I will watch you go. To your first day of school, and your driver’s test, and your first date, and college—I will watch you go. To your first job interview, and your first day in the real world and moving out of my home, I will watch you go.

But I’ll always be back there waiting–picturing you as the 6 lb, 14oz baby that came somersaulting into my life and turned my world on its head.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

A Little Squishy…And Other Thoughts On Body Image

I’m what I like to call a little “squishy”– which isn’t a put down but more of a fact that sometimes when I sit down, it’s easier to just adjust the band of my pants to hide that extra little roll that popped out instead of trying to ab crunch it away. You feelin’ what I’m throwing down? Or maybe not.

Post-Rosebud body is just not quite as lithe as I’d like her to be.

I’ve never had a particularly healthy relationship with my body image. I was a chubby little girl. Not morbidly obese, mind you, but when looking at childhood pictures the term “pleasantly plump” comes to mind. I remember knowing this as a little girl. Maybe I was just unusually mature, but the fact that I still laugh at fart noises probably crosses that possibility off the list. Or maybe it was that I had two older sisters and so I noticed things other little girls didn’t. For example, I could not understand why they got those great boob things and I didn’t, so I spent most of second grade pining for my own set of stellar breasts that never came. Sigh. I digress. Regardless of how or why, I remember knowing, feeling, wishing with all my heart that this looked one way or that looked the other–and looking back now, my heart aches for 8-year-old Hunter.

Throughout junior high and high school my sentiments toward body image ebbed and flowed–typically in alignment with whether cute boys thought I was cute. In college, my body’s limits were stretched as I existed under stress, weird hours, and an increasing internal pressure to look certain ways and impress certain people. At a size 4, I should have been seemingly content. But I still felt the push to “just lose that 10 more pounds” and then…then I could be happy.

Even my relationship with food was dysfunctional. While never, ever starving myself, I rarely ate more than two meals a day, and I lived under this weird balance notion that told me if I ate something unhealthy at lunch, then it must be balanced out and made up for at another meal. The scariest part about this all is the sense of NORMALCY. You’d be surprised at the reality facing women today to see they’ve all felt this way at some point in their lives.

And I am afraid.

I am afraid that the precious, little towheaded Rosebud, snoozing in her crib–oblivious to things like self-esteem or words like fat–will one day look in the mirror and wish to see something else. When I know, in my head and my heart, that she is the most beautiful jewel to ever grace this planet. And I worry about how I will make her see and understand that her worth and value lies outside of the size of her waist or clearness of her skin.

Especially when I am still searching for some answers myself.

When I found my worth in deeper places, I stopped searching for acceptance in the reflection of my mirror. When I found that the God that molded my form did so with reason and purpose, I stopped wishing to become someone else. When I found my beauty in the sacrifice of a perfect savior for my imperfect soul on a cross, I found peace.

My faith, I have never questioned, my identity I did. I just needed to merge the two.

And so now it’s my duty to teach sweet Rosebud that while yes, her body is a temple that she should fill with healthy things, her body image is defined by something not of this world. And it is up to me to hold her hand as she transitions from my tiny infant, to my tumbling toddler, to the stubborn child, the insecure teenager, and ultimately to the independent woman I pray she will be. Every day Doc and I tell her how beautiful and intelligent she is; more important than that, we tell her how sweet and kind she is–and most important of all, we tell her how good our God is. And it’s in His image that she rests.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.