There are moments when we close our eyes and can be transported back to a place in time in an instant. The smells the sounds, the emotion, the people we were with- it’s all right there. September 11th, for me, is one of those moments.
I don’t remember much about September 10, 2001. I was living in my dorm and had just started my Freshman year on the beautiful campus of Michigan State University. I probably went to dinner with my roommates and worried about my classes and made plans for the upcoming weekend.
I don’t remember a lot about that Monday night, but I will never forget that Tuesday morning.
My roommates and I woke up to a blaring phone that wouldn’t stop ringing. Through our grumbles and confusion someone managed to stumble down off the loft and answer it. It was my roommates dad, frantically telling us to get out of bed and turn on the tv. As we wiped away the sleep from our eyes we sat there in our tiny little dorm room. We watched like the rest of the world, shocked, helpless and completely heartbroken for the events that were unfolding.
Sitting there watching life as we knew it fade away I was mixed with emotion and I needed to call my Ma. The instant she answered the phone I knew something wasn’t right. It was then I remembered my brother was with his friends in NYC. My heart fell out of my chest as I learned that no one could get a hold of him. That morning they were supposed to be on a tour of the World Trade Center. A tour that would have put them at the top of one of the towers when the planes hit.
God had a different plan for my brother and his friends on September 11, 2001. It was later that morning through jammed cell phone lines that my Ma was finally able to reach them. By only the incredible grace of God, their alarm never went off. As the world around them fell to pieces, they were safe and sleeping in their NYC hotel room.
The days that followed left us all glued to the tv. We felt utter heartbreak and devastation for our nation, for our American people. We watched over and over as the news stations delved deeper and deeper into the events that occurred. We banded together as a nation. We took events that were meant to tear us down and we let them strengthen us. Over time, we as Americans tried to wrap our minds around the devastation, emotion and destruction. I heard someone once say that we never got back to “normal” we just found a new normal.
Today I remember.
I remember the 2,977 victims and their families, friends and loved ones.
I remember American Airlines Flight 11.
I remember United Airlines Flight 175.
I remember the North and South Towers.
I remember American Airlines Flight 77.
I remember the Pentagon.
I remember United Airlines Flight 93.
I remember the fire fighters.
I remember the police officers.
I remember the families that were torn apart.
I remember our military that has defended us everyday since.
I remember the survivors that bravely carry on.
September 11, 2001 changed us forever.
I will never, ever, ever forget.
Have you ever been at a point in your life where you were striving for something? I don’t mean the type of striving where you set it out as a goal to reach in a healthy way. I mean the striving where you will unhealthily stop at nothing to attain what you want. If you have breath in your lungs and a heartbeat in your chest chances are pretty stellar that you have something of this nature in your life. That thing we strive for is different for all of us. It can be money, power, fame, significance, sex, material possessions, certainty, perfect kids, that perfect marriage, the right job, the fastest car, the biggest house, a number on a scale, a number in a bank account, a boat on that lake, that fancy life. If I go on long enough surely I will touch on that thing you want more than anything. Most of us have one… If I can be really honest, most of us have a few.
The thing about this thing, however we define it, is that oftentimes it puts us in a position of tension and unsettledness. When we spend so much time focusing on that thing we don’t have or that thing we are striving for, we miss out on what is right before us. We become chained and entangled in our pursuit to satisfy this thing that we want. When we focus on the restriction of what we don’t have, we lose the gift of what we do have. This struggle isn’t our fault, but at least we can do something about it so we aren’t chained and held captive by it.
Like any good basketball player knows, freedom comes with a strong pivot. A defender is in your way, pivot past and get the open lane to the hoop… so it is on the court- so it is in life.
We can free ourselves by pivoting our focus. What you focus on you find- if you are focusing on what you don’t have- that coveted thing – all you are going to find is what you don’t have. I close my eyes and I think about what I strive for. Man, it is enticing and I could keep clawing for it, working for it, focusing on it. But I realize something important- I am missing everything I currently have that sits unchained before me. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying don’t strive for things in life. Lord, I am not at all saying that. What I am saying though is stop letting it chain you. Stop letting it run you. Stop letting it define your happiness.
In a world that lives chained to the treat ‘yo self mindset, I think it’s time to live in the realm of free ‘yo self. Pivot your focus, take some massive action and get after that one relentlessly beautiful life that you have.
Motherhood and marriage isn’t always pretty. Our social feeds have become highlight reels and sometimes it makes me cray-cray because we all know full well, that’s not real life. 🙈 For you Mama’s who are having a rough day, week, month, season, enjoy reading about the morning I recently had… and feel slightly better about life.
I started off the day hitting snooze one too many times (and by one too many I mean 742 too many). In the bathroom, tensions rose when Hubbz was forced to maneuver around me taking up most of the space, shaving my leg over the sink while brushing my teeth. It doesn’t help my cause that when I get ready in the morning it can tend to look like a hurricane of makeup and hair product hit our bathroom (what can I say… #29Forever). The environment was prime and ready for a marital bump in the road and needless to say, I got into a disagreement with Hubbz. Even after spending 16 years together, two people don’t always agree on everything.
Hubbz left for work annoyed and in a huff and I moved on to a very upset toddler whose diaper decided to explode a nights worth of pee and a fresh morning poop EVERYWHERE. When I say everywhere what I mean is everywhere. All over him, the crib, my work clothes and yes, some in my freshly done hair. #sweet I did my best to clean him up with wet wipes but realized I was doing more smearing then cleaning. Also, I might add, while I was in the midst of doing more smearing than cleaning he decided that now was the best time to reach down and see if he could help… or maybe he just wanted to be a boy and grab his junk. Either way, I ended up with a poop covered hand hanging on to my forearm. There are moments in life when you realize you are fighting a losing battle… his poop covered hand on my forearm was that moment.
I’ve learned in life, sometimes when things aren’t going as planned we are forced to pivot. I took that as my sign to pivot… right to the bathroom and I put him in the bathtub. I, along with most of the bathroom, ended up drenched when he lost his bananas because this was definitely not part of his morning routine and though he loves baths he wasn’t interested in one this early (I can’t entirely blame him for feeling that way. I get it.) By only the grace of God, we got out of the house in one piece and neither one of us smelling like poop.
Our departure from home was a great accomplishment until ToddlerB screamed all the way to Starbuck’s because sometimes being 21 months and having your routine severly jacked up is hard. While I waited in an extra-long line that just so happened to decided to take 17 hours that day, he screamed and carried on. I tried every trick in the book and it wasn’t until I began putting his window up and down looking for imaginary birds and chickens that he stopped. Don’t ask me where the chickens came from- it was all I could think of plus, it worked. #littlewins I dropped #ToddlerB off at daycare where he instantly became a normal functioning human and even waved and blew me kisses from the window. I think he was casually saying “So long, Sucker!!!” I cried most of the way to work and spent the morning beating myself up because #momguilt and #wifeguilt are real things.
Sometimes as women with marriages and children and careers, we question if we really can have it all. We question what it takes to hold it together and if we’re really even capable of that. In case you were wondering, the answer to all of those questions is, YES!
Yes, you can have it all!
Yes, you can hold it together!
And, hell yes, you are capable!!!
Just in case no one has told you lately, we are more than capable… we are conquerors!
Mid-way through my day I paused because I couldn’t shake the mom guilt and wonky mood. I busted out some Jesus and read the days scripture. “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8) I almost facepalmed myself for forgetting that truth but instead I took it as a gentle reminder. I was reminded that in my morning- in each moment that seemed to get worse and worse, I forgot to keep my eyes looking up. Sure the situation wouldn’t have changed but maybe I would have gone through it with gratitude, peace and even a little laughter. I called to mind that I get to share space with Hubbz each morning. I get to hear his very wise point-of-view on things. I get to nourish and raise a little boy with a very healthy digestive system. I get to make up silly games with him while we wait in long lines for delicious caffeinated beverages. I get to bring him to a place where he is loved and cared for everyday while I get to work in a place that I love and fulfills me. By keeping my eyes on the Lord, nothing about my morning would have probably changed, yet everything would have changed.
A long time before BabyB ever made his appearance, Hubbz and I vowed to love each other and raise our babies to know Jesus. This is where the rubber meets the road. In our marriage and in Mommyhood, we are in the midst of the moments that will matter. I take a deep breath (and thankfully no longer smell toddler poop in my nose holes.) I can rest assured that so long as I am living with my eyes firmly on Jesus, he hears me, he sees me and he’s got me… I won’t be shaken by what comes my way. Sweet Mama’s, without a doubt in my heart, this applies to you too. In the moments when the rubber is meeting the road, it’s hard to remember. Keep your dope soul focused on Jesus and you won’t be shaken by the life that comes your way.
PS… I just realized that I now have a baseline morning… no matter how bad it gets from here on out, hopefully I will always be able to look back and say “at least it wasn’t as bad as that one morning.” Maybe that’s wishful thinking but a Rookie Mommy can dream, right?!
Tonight finds me settled in on our deck, Toddler B fast asleep and Hubbz out running errands. My tiny fur-ball is curled up on the patio chair next to me and I am reading a book. I can feel the setting sun warm my bones and a solid wind blowing from the south. (Thank you, countless summers of caddying loops at our local country club for my directional knowledge.) 😉 It’s summer in The Mitten and for a girl who prefers a cold, crisp fall day, I do have to say, it’s absolute p-e-r-f-e-c-t-i-o-n. (also, it was super annoying writing perfection that way- I digress.)
Lately, my free time has found me writing my book- and by writing I mean sitting down to write and then coming up with all the things I need to be doing instead of writing. I am not a procrastinator but for some reason when it comes to writing my book I can give you a list of 783 things that I need to be doing instead. I don’t entirely know why this is a thing, but it is. When I am not writing, I have been reading. I am a Gemini with a mind that can overthink something seven ways to Sunday, and because of this I have taught myself to have a voracious appetite for a great book… otherwise I get myself in trouble.
My current read was given to me by a writing mentor that I met with recently. She showed up with an armful of new books for me to read. Nestled into one of the pages was this beautiful line by E.L. Doctorow, “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
Does that hit anyone else right smack upside the head like it does me?! I don’t know about you but when I apply that to my life, it gives me permission to breath… specifically to exhale. It gives me space to not have it all figured out. So many times I strive to see the whole pie when all I am given is a slice. This little snippet of wisdom I uncovered in this book was just enough of a reminder that I don’t have to be able to see the entire path. I only have to see enough of what is in front of me to be able to take the next step, and the one after that, and the one after that.
The sun is starting to fall deep on the horizon now and the air is feeling mighty cool for a summer night. I take a look at the baby monitor- Toddler B is tucked in for the night and Hubbz should be home any minute. I start to have a little peace around the fact that I don’t have all the answers on this side of Heaven. I just have to know enough and be brave enough to take the next step- even when I can’t see the whole road or even where it goes.
I exhale and feel a stillness in my body. The tension I had about things in life that seem unresolved isn’t entirely there anymore. There’s nothing hanging over my head to figure out.
It’s just this moment.
I sit back in my chair and exhale.
Just as the sun slips beyond the horizon.
All we have is this moment, Friends.
Just this moment.