Category Archives: Motherhood and Middle Age

Forty and Pink…Rough Combo

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I turn 40 in 21 days.  My mom used to be famous in our family for saying, “I feel better at 60 than I did at 40!!” Hmmm…I am beginning to understand. I accidentally colored my hair pink last night. I’m thinking 40 might be the low tide of reasoning, funding, and energy.

My morning’s email to my colleagues at work looked like this:

1.  Yes.  I know it’s pink.

2.  Yes.  It will be repaired.

3.  Yes.  It’s great to laugh with me.  Just not at me.

4.  No.  Not going to try it at home again.

5.  Yes.  I know you’re mostly men and probably wouldn’t even have noticed, but I feel better getting it on the table.

So, now that my colleagues are over it, and as I eagerly await the magic of my new best-friend-colorist “Camby” (she must be only 23 – I have no peers named Camby) at 3:00 this afternoon, I reflect on what has led me to the simultaneous mid-life/pink hair brink.

Let’s see…

I think we need to call this what it is: Vanity.  I am a redhead.  Really, a redhead.  My hair has always been my selling point.  Lately, it’s rusty and dingy and alarmingly shot through with gray.  I want to remain a redhead, not a very pale skinned, freckled, splotchy middle-aged lady with stale iced-tea washed gray hair.  That image is not in line with my long-standing self-concept.  Redheads know what I’m talking about.  The ghost colored cellulite, sunburns, rashes, and trips to the dermatologist are only worth it because people rave about “your hair!!”

[Ironic sidebar:  When I awoke at 4 am this morning fretting about my pink hair, I went to get a glass of water.  In the kitchen, my phone’s screen showed a photo of me at age 15 before the Christmas dance.  My friend Cameron had found it at her dad’s house and texted it in order to point out MY HAIR (she did not know of my pink-issues) and what a “do” it was back in the 1988 day.  I’m telling you.  Redheads have strong life/hair connections. Close sidebar.]

15 year old redheaded "do."

15 year old redheaded “do.”

Another factor.  Time.  I have none.  That box of color that I pulled off the bathroom closet shelf last night has been in there for four months begging to be used.  Have I found a solid hour of kid/chore/to-do free time to devote to turning my hair pink in the last four months?  Nope.  So, when I arrived home from a rare dinner out with a girlfriend and found no husband, no kids, and a peaceful dog in my home, I pounced.  A little too hard.  As the color marinated, I thought “Why shouldn’t I leave this stuff on an extra five minutes?  After all, it’s been almost 6 months since I colored my hair.”  While I lingered, I ate a few bites of Haagen-Dazs straight out of the carton and savored the sounds of Duck Dynasty in the background.  I felt so free, so adult, so empowered.  ARNNNHHH. (Buzzer sound.)  Bad call on the lingering, Strawberry Shortcake.  Bad call.

Shall we discuss money?  Oh, let’s.  None of that right now either.  I realize that living where I live among refugees who arrive here truly destitute, that whole “no money” comment sounds very catty.  It probably really is.  This is one of the struggles of integrating what I am seeing in Clarkston with what I am used to in my life.  Honestly, I’d patted myself on the proverbial back for getting the $6 box of color at CVS. (Proverbial due to a rotator cuff injury from trying a 5 a.m. boot camp…but that’s another mid life issue that I won’t explore here).  Being “thrifty and all” is a more intentional aspiration for me these days. (Not just because I’m being super spiritual, but also because kids cost SO MUCH MONEY.  Do you know how much it costs to be in band?  Or to twist an ankle?  Or to run cross country?  Or to buy school supplies? Or to insure two teenage drivers?  Of course you do – these are rhetorical questions.) Apparently, though, you sometimes get what you pay for. My thrifty drugstore  effort at beauty apparently backfired, leaving a lingering pink glow ON MY HEAD.

Last factor: peer pressure.  No, I don’t have shallow friends who want my hair to be vivid and rich before they will be seen with me. It’s pressure from my son!  (Those of you who know him will not find this shocking at all.)  My very own 12 year old boy has spent the last 18 months – my period of gray decay – chronicling the progress of the icicle strands and letting me know just how much he thinks I need to color my hair.  I laugh at him.  My inner and outer selves both laugh. He’s amusing and endearing and annoying all at once.  He’s 12. But, I have to admit that part of the reason I pulled the box off of the shelf last night was because I pick him up at band camp on Saturday and wouldn’t it be a fun little mommy-wink to have freshly colored hair?  Not so much. I think the pink would do him in altogether.

He might rather walk home.

Or maybe I’ll send all the kids to live with my parents for the remainder of the year and then ask my mom at Christmas if she still feels better than she did at 40.

(You want to see a picture of the pink.  No can do.  I tried to imitate my snap-chatting 16 year old and take a few selfies, but my nose looks uncharacteristically ginormous, my hair really is pink, and the lines around my eyes are very pronounced.  Let’s leave the selfies to the snap chatters and use our old-fashioned imagination.)

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Being Rabbit

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It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in our new home for two and a half months.  Often I still feel like I’m visiting Clarkston when I drive into my driveway.  The fact that we’ve had our first leak, our first dinner guests, our first re-organization of closets, and our first birthday in the house make me know I’m home.

I’ve been absent from the blog much of this year – little time to write due to the demands of job and family and move.  I’ve also shied away from writing because, while I want to process the heck out of this move, I also wonder how relevant my own stirrings and musings are to anyone but my own journal and me.

One of the things that God has nudged me about, several times, is the urging to bring others along with us.  Traveling with friends is so much more satisfying, orienting, and encouraging than travelling alone. I’m here to update you and to bring you along, should you care to join us.

So, where are we today?

Well, I’d have to let Doug speak for himself, but I do think that we’d both say that this has been one of the most intense seasons of our lives so far.

As for me, I’m struggling with “being Rabbit.”  Winnie the Pooh is my all time favorite children’s story series.  Perhaps I love the sweet community, or maybe I really enjoy the British take on being a child, but I think I most appreciate the absolute type-castability of Pooh’s neighbors.  In my four walls, we have a definite Owl, a total Eeyore, a budding Kanga, and even a Christopher Robin.  Unfortunately, I’m the Rabbit around here. Got to work hard and get it right.  Can’t play – too much to do.  “Why is she cranky?” “Not sure, but she’s too busy to ask.”

ImageThere’s really way too much to get right – being a neighbor, step-mothering, career choices, supporting my working-so-hard-too husband, learning a community, plugging in with refugees (with what time?), and staying connected with friends.  The Rabbit in me is daunted and wants to put a sign up in the yard that says “no trespassing” until I get my rows tilled and my seeds planted and my seedlings labeled.  Sorry, chickie-mama, but this life doesn’t allow for that level of control.

The problem with Rabbit-weaknesses is that most people name them as strengths when they compliment you.  Efficiency, care, awareness, and industriousness – these are good things that can be really important in running a home and nurturing family.  They are me, and they matter to our life. Right now, though, they feel like they’re causing me fret over a level of order that I have no business trying to attain.  Lists, lines, rows, priorities and tasks are dangerous rabbit trails (excuse the horrible pun) that are apt to suck the joy out of this transition for me…and therefore for everyone in my house.

Yesterday morning in my devotions, I stopped short at a verse in John. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his inmost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38)  Rivers flow.  They sweep.  They swirl.  They rush.  They meander.  They cleanse.  They bubble.  They refresh.  They reflect.  They ebb.  They flow.  They curve.  They cut.  They nourish. They are alive. Things that are alive cannot be contained, cordoned off, parsed, or neatly organized. 

When I stop my Rabbiting, lay down my list, give up today’s fret, and believe Him, the well-defined rows may very well disappear, but they will be replaced with a powerful, nurturing force of Holy Spirit life that will allow for both adventure and order, both calm and chaos.  I don’t have to get it right, but I do need to lay it down and just believe.

So, “where am I?” –  I’m caught in the tension, and I’m glad He keeps showing up and loving the Rabbit in me enough to ask her to lay down her garden tools and take a walk with Him.

Well Defined Lasts

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My friend Kitti (www.kittimurray.com) is a sage who says that raising kids is sad sometimes because, while you always record their “firsts,” you never really know when their “lasts” are happening, so you cannot mark them in time or savor them while they happen.  True.  When was my son’s last sippy cup?  His last snooze in a car seat?  His last, “sing one more song, mommy!” before bed? I really don’t know, and that makes my heart a bit nostalgic for what “last” I might have overlooked today.

Moving is different.  Well-defined lasts abound.  Tonight was to be our last family dinner in our home, but a track meet ran late, so we ate on the fly rather than around the table.  That just-missed-last has me choked up tonight.

I just took my second to last shower in my shower upstairs.  I’ve carted the last load of groceries into my big-‘ole kitchen.  And, this afternoon, I helped a twelve-year-old sort through the last of his scattered and under bed (even in bed!) toys to decide what stays and what goes.  Head in hands, half way through, he lamented, “downsizing is HARD, mom.”  Yes, son, today it is.

Dread is a pretty disgusting emotion.  It’s heavy and dark and lumpy and doesn’t really fit.  Not that I dread moving, but I dread leaving.  I dread my next 48 hours of last.

As with this whole move, I think of my refugee friends.  I wonder how many lasts were unable to fit into neatly labeled cardboard boxes or carefully sorted piles.  I wonder how many good-byes were whispered, lonely into nighttime pillows rather than offered with loving hugs or savored over coffee.  I wonder how it feels to be ripped rather than gently pried away from a home.  It must hurt deeply, and the dread must linger more fully, when lasts aren’t marked and counted.

So today, I am trying to appreciate my cognizance of all of the lasts.

“Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord—with the first of them and with the last—I am He.” Isaiah 41:4