Tag Archives: marriage

On Sweetness and Mother’s Day

Copyright © 2012 Erin Molloy Photography

It’s Mother’s Day morning and last night was one of those up and down kinds of sleeps. Chris and I are at the stage where we go to bed in the unknowing: will the boys sleep all night? Will they wake four times? Last night August had to pee, then he couldn’t go back to sleep. Then he still couldn’t go back to sleep. And, then he really couldn’t go back to sleep. Each trip to his room, I found myself accidentally kicking my leg against something: a laundry basket, a couch.

By 5:45 when Brooksie was crying, I was so fuzzy and frantic (my usually style of mid-night waking) that I literally ran into the doorframe in our room. I slammed my cheekbone loud enough that Chris jumped up and I moaned and fell back on the bed. (He went to check on Brooksie.)

So, sleeping in on Mother’s Day morning is not only called for, it’s fitting. I’m sort of a mess this morning, what with my bruised cheekbone and puffy eyes (I accidentally got cucumber juice in them while cooking Friday night and they don’t take kindly to cucumbers. Remind me to tell you a great story about that sometime.)

I’ve been reading in bed with coffee by my side, brought to me by Christopher in my favorite bright red mug. And my boys are in and out. Brooksie loves to waddle in and gaze flirtatious and mischievous at me. He raises his eyebrows, makes a serious face, then smiles and almost laughs and waddles away. So far during my reading time, he has come in to find a waded up receipt (which he played with for five minutes, carrying it back and forth from my room to the kitchen), a green pen (from which he couldn’t remove the cap, thankfully. He used it to “comb” Ezra the Super Cat, who will take any form of attention he can get, even when it involves a green pen in the hands of a one-year-old.). Now, Brooksie is back in the room bare-handed. He walks to the side table, shakes the lamp a few times while I remind him how that’s not a good idea. And then he’s pinching his pointer and thumb together and touching the table. He’s amazed with this development, that his fingers can gather and make a cone of sorts, that he can push them against the table and experience some sort of finger-sensation. He looks at me and smiles. Then he opens his hand and looks inside at his palm. He does some assessments. He’s happy with what he sees. His palm is good, he decides. Then he’s out of the room again. Off to something new.

Soon, Chris calls me to the kitchen where my favorite meals is being served: Eggs Benedict (and I promise my love for the creamy sauce has nothing to do with my love for the saint). Chris makes it for me every Mother’s Day, every birthday. Homemade hollandaise stirred perfectly over boiling water. Today, though, the lemon is moldy and there is nothing Chris can do to replace it. The sauce doesn’t congeal and it doesn’t help that August is crying on the couch. (His morning show on Netflix has been buffering for ages.)

So I enter the kitchen in my pjs, hair in a pile on my head, cheek beaten by the doorframe, eyes puffy from the Cucumber Incident. August is crying about the lack of “Busytown Mysteries” and my husband hands me a mimosa, because that’s just the sort of thing he does. And I think how all of it is perfect: the uncongealed hollandaise, the frustrated three-year-old, the baby astounded by his own hands.

We sit at the table to pray and just before we bow our heads, August whispers to Chris across the table: “Should we get Mama’s flowers?”

“Let’s pray first,” my husband says. And they do, thankful for me.

Then they slip away and return with orchids in a vase. August choose them, he says: yellow, my favorite color.

And on the card: A list of questions Chris asked the boys (of course only one of them could answer):

  1. What is you favorite part of Mama? A: Leaning on her belly.
  2. What is your favorite thing to do with Mommy? A: Play cars
  3. How do you show Mommy you love her? A: This answer is acted out: He squeezes the chair with his arms.
  4. What do you want to say to Mama? A: Thank you
  5. For what? A: She lets me get frozen yogurt even though I didn’t get it for my dessert

Also this morning, during the lazy coffee drinking in bed, I read words about sweetness in Lauren Winner’s book Still. They’re the words of a twelfth-century Cistercian named Baldwin of Forde. He says:

“Jesus is sweet…He is sweet in prayer, sweet in speech, sweet in reading, sweet in contemplation, sweet in compunction, and in the jubilation of the heart. He is sweet in the mouth, sweet in the heart, sweet in love; he is the love of sweetness and the sweetness of love…Those who have tasted of him grow hungry, and those who are hungry will be satisfied and the sated will cry out the memory of his abundant sweetness.”

And I think: Is there a better word for this moment, this time in my life while these babies learn to be themselves and my husband loves me better and better, while all at once I feel so young and still so rich with age? Sweetness.

Oh, Jesus, we cry at the memory of your abundant sweetness.




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After the trip: Thankful

  • There’s no one with whom I would rather spend 20 hours in the car (Wednesday and Sunday combined, mind you) than my husband. Isn’t it amazing that I still like him so much, especially when the back seat is full of weeping children?
  • A sister-in-law who is willing to cut my boy’s hair for me. For the courage to chop off that mop of blonde hanging in his eyes. For the shock of almost brown(!) hair underneath and the reality that my 3-year-old looks like a 5-year-old. (I’m still recovering and trying not to gasp at that face with almost brown hair and those expressive eyebrows..they’ve been hidden by bangs for awhile.)
  • My nephew’s baptism and the holiness of being sealed as Christ’s.
  • The opportunity to celebrate my granddaddy who is turning 90 next week.
  • A husband who takes his turkey roasting Very Seriously.
  • A husband who plays ping-pong with my brothers into the late hours.
  • A baby who longs, LONGS to crawl. Oh, it’s so difficult! He’s so tired of scooting and sick of reaching.
  • Brooksie’s older girl cousins who are so faithful to play with him.
  • The new Muppet movie and its songs that are still stuck in my head. (So good, by the way.)
  • August’s 11-year-old boy cousin to whom he whispered during the movie: “You are my hero!”
  • August and his cousin Blythe’s new game called “Toast.” (You really don’t want to know.)
  • My grandmother Memaw rocking Brooksie and singing “By and By.” My grandmother Deenie (90 years old!) down on the floor playing peek-a-boo with my baby. Having them with my boys is such a sweet gift.
  • Actually being able to run in my family’s goofy 2-mile Thanksgiving race. I was 7 minutes slower than the boys, but this little asthmastic long-distance vomiter  was just proud to have run that far.
  • Halfway to Amarillo on Wednesday, I took over the driving after we passed Abilene (my college town). It’s more than a four-hour-drive from there and the boys were asleep most of that time. The stars in West Texas really are the brightest and biggest. The blackness of the night air really is the darkest. And the chance to drive late at night down a highway I knew so well was a gift. I love whispering with my husband in a dark car.
  • My baby sleeping in my parents’ closet in a pack-n-play (because there was no room for him anywhere else)! I love that my parents are willing to host him in their space, that my mom is willing to get up with Brooksie in the night and let me sleep, and that he got plenty of snuggles from them.
  • Chris, August and I barely squeezing in my old bedroom (still decorated with a  pink and yellow heart mural that quotes John Keats…ahh, high school) and sharing the rest of the house with my parents, grandparents and aunt. I’m so thankful that I grew up in a house where I couldn’t hide from my family, were we had to learn to share the living room and the TV. I’m thankful that I was taught from the youngest of ages that my bed belonged to my grandparents when they came to town and I slept on the couch. And I’m thankful even now that we get to squeeze our family into my parents’ house. Maybe it helps that I’m an extrovert. But it was a gift for the space to feel full.

Thanksgiving is over! And it’s Thankful Tuesday. What are you most thankful for today?

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Absence, marriage and making that little heart grow fonder

So yesterday I came across an article in Slate about a new book by Iris Krasnow, who has spent every July for the past decade away from her husband of almost a quarter century. Her book is called The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes To Stay Married, and much of it has to do with how spending significant chunks of time away from your spouse may actually be good for your marriage, especially if you’re a woman.

“…the idea that absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that is a cliché. But it is a cliché for a reason,” writes Jessica Grose at Slate.

The benefits of the time spent apart? It helps women become more emotionally self-reliant. It empowers women to recognize that the emotionally fulfilling relationship of marriage is still not “an intimacy oasis,” as a 1980 study from the Journal of Marriage and Family describes it. Also, it benefits couples because they are forced to communicate. It’s easy in the chaos of daily life to go through days with out ever needing to really speak to your spouse. But when communicating is all there is to your relationship, many wives say that time is incredibly fulfilling.

What about you? If you’re married, how often do you spend time away from your spouse? And when you do, does your marriage benefit?


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Green peas, weddings, acorns and more! A Thankful Tuesday post

  • Yesterday’s lunch when a newly 6-month-old baby was simultaneously consuming and expelling puréed green peas all over his face: This made his older brother laugh hysterically. Which caused the little babes smile like a hero. He made his big brother laugh! So they both stared at each other over lunch, both smiling and knowing whatever secret it is that brothers know.
  • Cooler evenings which lead to cooler mornings: which lead to coffee and prayer
  • A driveway for practicing tricycle riding.
  • A weekend to see sweet friends from San Francisco all in Dallas for Cecelia’s wedding. After 6 weeks in a lonely new place, how can I say thanks for time to dress up with girlfriends, eat barbeque (best wedding food ever) and dance my heart out? And how can I not add to this list the fact that I have a mother who would fly to Dallas to watch my boys so my husband and I could have such a weekend? Grateful, grateful.
  • For the satisfaction that comes every time a cardboard box is emptied and out of my house. I’d love to move this moving in thing along but I’m thankful for this home, for my sweaty boy running free in his yard, for closet space and for the hope of settling in…
  • Old trees dropping acorns in the yard.
  • Did I mention that for my birthday, my friend Julie Manwarring letter-pressed my favorite Elizabeth Bishop sonnet for me? I framed it today. It’s right in front of my kitchen sink, which, in my humble opinion, is the best place for a sonnet.
  • My baby is 6 months old! And 18 pounds, 12 ounces. His thighs are thicker than my upper arm! And I can’t stop kissing all that chunk.
  • Being married to the best wedding dancer on the planet. Is anyone more fun than that guy?
  • Two days for my 90-year-old  grandmother to cuddle with Brooksie.
  • New friends and dates on the calendar and hope and hope and hope…


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Sometimes I stop and look across the table at the man with the square jaw who is telling August to eat 4 more peas and then he can have another piece of bread, and that man is the boy I met at an acappella concert in Ithaca, New York of all places: tall and lanky and a little awkward around girls. Lucky for him, I was not awkward around boys.

Yesterday when I ran into our neighbors who share a wall with August’s room, I told them we’re moving this week and made a joke about how relieved they must be to not have to participate in every tantrum thrown in our apartment. They said what they’ll miss is the sound of August and Chris playing on August’s bed every night. The sweetest sounds, they said.

There are moments I’m so overcome with the joy of my life, with the happiness of being in love with a good man, with the sweetness of being loved, that I think it can’t have happened to me, this good, beautiful thing. Chris, I say, it’s hard to leave these people I love but I can ‘t believe I get to move wherever you are. Every time, I get to move wherever you are.

Seven years ago were we less in love? I could never state that as a fact. Maybe less aware of how we were capable of loving? In the same way that we loved cheese but had NO IDEA how good cheese could be.

Maybe that’s a dumb analogy. What I mean is this: I married the best of them all. And fatherhood has made him better. And time has made him deeper and wiser. And age has made him more handsome. And Jesus has made him more himself than ever before.

When I married him seven years ago, we laughed a lot. And now? We smirk and snark and cough and catch each other’s eye across the table when our oldest boy says something amazing and ridiculous. And I know what we will share when he comes home from high school having done something stupid. We’ll deal with it, like we deal with his poop on the floor or his 3 am nightmares. And we’ll look at each other and we’ll know whatever it was that we knew that afternoon in the meadow, beneath the towering mountain and the rumbling thunderstorm threatening overhead. We knew that the other was wonderfully our own. Somehow we had been given the other, not to possess but to carry. And, here, seven years later with two boys and a transition looming ahead, I see in his face that belief that this thing is possible and I say it again: I will and I will and I do.


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Mama admits she’s kind of a crazy person.

We all have our crazy-makers. Mine is email, and phone calls, and thank you notes—basically any communication that I’m expected to follow through on. Sometimes I do alright with those things. I make lists. I set goals: Return four emails before bed!

But sometimes I torture myself. My deepest weakness is a longing to please people. I want to be liked. I want you to not be mad at me. I want to be polite. And so, when an email sits in my inbox for two months, even when my excuse is pretty legit (my baby won’t stay asleep when I lay him down…the time I used to have during August’s naptime is now a distant memory I recall as I’m bouncing a fussy baby), I feel crushing guilt. The unwritten email(s) runs through my mind all day long and if I don’t turn those tortured thoughts into prayer, I become a brain wreck.

So, when Chris came home yesterday to a kitchen full of dirty dishes, a bedroom full of unfolded laundry, and a wife in tears bouncing a crying baby while pretending to be Angelina Ballerina with her almost-three-year-old and all I could say when he walked in the door was: “I just need to return emails! I just need to write thank you notes!” it was all too familiar.

The first time I realized I have a problem with anxiety came when Chris and I were engaged. I’m an ENFP. Planning is not my strong suit. (Making friends with people who I can’t possibly keep in touch with is…) So, I was a total disaster as a wedding planner. I was stressed and I cried every night. (At least that’s how I remember our engagement. Poor Christopher.)

After we were married, when I expected the anxiety to fade into a pretty wedding album, it was still there. This time it was found in email and phone calls. I couldn’t return them. I was paralyzed by the thought of dialing a friend’s number so instead I spent the time I could’ve spent calling crying in my bed, hating myself for the steadily building list of uncalled friends.

When I finally went to therapy, a whole world opened up. It was a freedom to recognize that I was actually kind of a crazy person, not simply a terrible friend. And anxiety is my natural inclination when I don’t believe the truth, when I don’t set boundaries, when I allow my brain to believe that all I am is what I can accomplish.

And so, when Chris came home yesterday and found me in a panicked state, bouncing our baby like some frantic bird, trying to pick toys off August’s floor with my feet, he recognized The Anxiety Monster right away. We sat in our room while I rocked T-Rexy and I said the same thing over and over again: How I didn’t have time, how the people I love don’t think I love them, how a truly grateful person would never let her friends go for months without being told of her gratefulness. Then he told me he loved me, told me he was going to go pick up the world’s best dumplings from Shanghai Dumpling King (which he did). I stuffed my sadness with the incredibly juicy crack-laced pot-stickers, and eventually calmed down. Then we sat on the couch and walked through my 135 unread emails, flagged the ones I needed to return, and set a course of action.

You know what else happened? My husband got up with my kids this morning, fed August, entertained T-Rexy, put T-Rexy back to sleep, and let me sleep until 8.

And, I woke up to the same house, the same reality of my own failures of communication, the same crying children. But I remembered that God loves me and that I don’t have to live all bound up by my mind and my guilt.

Then I made a list.


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Thankful Tuesday: Moby wraps, pancakes, and baby dimples

  • Let’s start with this: There are some seasons in a marriage where you feel more like a team than you ever have, where you know what to say to each other in the sweetest and most painful moments, where you laugh big, hearty, hysterical laughs at each other. I’m thankful that Chris and I are in that season. And I’m thankful that Sunday night during my Bible study, Chris yelled over and over for me from our bedroom. I left my friends in the living room and found him on the bed, lying on his back, Brooksie on top of him and a tablespoon of spit up floating in Chris’ neck hallow. It was gross. It was awesome!
  • Have I ever said how great Diapers.com is? It is the best. And I’m thankful that I can order online when I have three diapers left and get a box the next day, just in time! (No, they didn’t pay me to say that.)
  • I’m thankful for my handmade (by my sister in law) “moby” wrap and the fact that Brooks spends his entire life in it.

    In my wrap with August in 2008

    For the first time a few days ago, I nursed and cooked dinner at the same time with him in that wrap. I am woman!

  • Two of my sweet friends came over Saturday morning to babysit the boys so Chris and I could go out and find me some cute post-pregnancy outfits. I’m thankful for 1) dear friends who make August pancakes and panic because he’s eaten 10, yes 10. (He loves his pancakes.) And 2) the blessing of being able to buy new clothes that I feel cute in.
  • After 4 months of potty training, my little boy is finally willing to sit on a real toilet! This is a monumental step for this kid. Now, onto getting him to sit on any other toilet in the world.
  • Yesterday, a friend asked me if I knew how to cook and eat an artichoke before moving to California, and I said: “Of course!” Then I felt grateful for my mother in law who has taught me how to cook and eat a lot of stuff, especially artichokes. (PS Did you know they’re amazing roasted? True fact.)
  • Smiling babies. Specifically, my smiling baby and his dimple in his right cheek. I can’t get enough.

It’s Thankful Tuesday! What are you thankful for???


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