Dear Birthing Mothers: On What Not To Say Out Loud

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Dear Birthing Mothers,

I’ve wanted to write this letter to you, to us, for a while. But until this moment, it’s been a thing of anger for me. I’ve read your comments, your Facebook statuses; I’ve read of your wishes and dreams and hopes and losses, and I’ve seethed with anger at your ignorance.

But right now, in this moment, I’m not so much angry with you as I am sad and hurt for those you unknowingly wound.

Like me.

Like my hyster-sisters.

Like all the mothers who’ve lost their babies before they were born, or in the birthing suite, or long before they were ever unborn beauties and were only plans.

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Respect? That’s My Son’s Job

IMG_8674I’ve read a LOT of blogs lately. Blogs about how girls should dress, how young ladies should protect young men, how the way a girl dresses defines her. I’ve read about how a girl is responsible for the looks she gets, for what goes on in a boy’s mind, for if and how much he lusts after her. I’ve read blogs from mothers of sons, who’ve warned girls of the impending Facebook block, should she show up too scantily clad on one of her son’s Facebook feeds (I applaud her, and I think I might want to try this). 

As the youngest of four girls belonging to a pastor, I was very much raised to dress modestly. Constantly aware of the length of my shorts, the tightness of pants, the thickness of the straps on my tank tops, the cut of necklines, and the openness of dress backs. And Lord knows, two-piece swimsuits were simply out of the question. 

And I don’t disagree. We women were created with a unique and curvy beauty, designed specifically to appeal to men’s physical and mind’s eyes. Knowing it, we have a responsibility to dress ourselves both in clothing and in dignity. For our own sake as much as anything else. 

But here’s the thing: As the stepmom of a 16-year-old young man and mom of a 2-year-old toddler (whose world-in-14-years will undoubtably make me cringe in new ways), I’m annoyed. 

I’m annoyed that all the preaching to “keep a boy’s mind pure” seems to be aimed at girls. Because that’s my sons’ job. 

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And We Run [Ice Age Trail 50 Race Report]

You have GOT to be kidding me. Two miles in? Already? No. NO. Too bad. This is it. I’m all in. 

I’m doing this. 

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heading out around 6am on the nordic ski trail at the beginning of the ice age trail 50.

MILES 1 – 10.68 >> NORDIC SKI TRAIL LOOP

Saturday morning May 11, just six months after running my first ultra marathon, the Wild Duluth 50k on the Superior Hiking Trail – and swearing 27 miles into it that I would never, EVER entertain such a horrible idea ever again – I laced up my shoes for my second ultra, the Ice Age Trail 50 Mile race in the Kettle Morraine State Forest near La Grange, WI. I was poorly prepared and fairly convinced I’d DNF. Finishing under 12 hours was my only goal. 

Since the WD50k, I hadn’t given my body the rest it wanted and needed. Instead, I signed up the very next day for the Ice Age 50, figuring if I could just sustain my fitness level I’d be fine. So over the course of the last six months, I overtrained and endured various ongoing injuries ranging from IT band issues in November and December, to metatarsal stress reactions in January and February, to running a half marathon on a sprained ankle in March and re-spraining it two weeks before the IA50.

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underCover: “Lovesong”

About a year ago, my brilliant guitarist husband (Paul Koopman) and I worked out what we think is a great cover of The Cure’s ageless wonder, “Lovesong.” 

I’ve always been moved by the song’s simplicity. Lyrically, it’s nothing terribly fancy, and yet it says everything we want to say to and hear from our lovers. Full of that agape/eros love that’s totally invested, utterly vulnerable, and completely unconditional.

However far away…However long I stay…Whatever words I say…I will always love you.

There’s this magic to it. This real-life base that cautions even as it guarantees: We won’t always be together, some times will be shorter than others, and in the together and apart, I will absolutely inevitably say things that hurt you… 

But.

I will always love you. 

These promises are tucked into the reality that is Love: When I’m alone with you, I’m whole and at home. I feel young and wild, like a kid in a candy shop. I feel free. And clean. 

This song is the epitome of the hope inherent to Love.

There are songs every songwriter wishes she wrote, and this is one of the grandest for me. If I had written this song, I’d feel no need to ever write again. It says everything, perfectly. 

We love the song. And so we who never cover songs decided we ought to cover it. And we ought to make it as emotive and vulnerable as possible. 

And thus, we give you our cover of “Lovesong.” 

Running and Other Impossible Feats

 

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It started as a weight loss obsession; my utterly unhealthy have-to-get-skinny response to my sister dropping major weight after having two babies. I’d always felt inferior and ugly. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had what’s now called “body dysmorphic disorder” – that awesome head condition where what you see in the mirror is totally unreal, but which motivates you to do whatever it takes to see what you really want to see (which will never, ever happen, because the problem isn’t what you’re looking at, but the eyes with which you’re looking). 

But, thanks to my hyper-competitive nature, her weight loss rocketed me to new levels of self-loathing. I felt fat. I felt disgusting. And so when I began running, it was from a place of self-hate. I ran to burn calories. I ran to see how many calories I could burn while consuming as few as possible. I’d placed myself on a 600-calorie-per-day diet – and was terrified of maxing my daily calorie budget – while running daily to burn 500 at minimum. 

I was full-on anorexic. 

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Dreams and Deliverance

All rights reserved by Ryan Montgomery [source: flickr]

“underwater 1” | All rights reserved by Ryan Montgomery [source: flickr]

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had one superpower in my dreams. I don’t fly. Flying terrifies me. Even if I’m riding on a particularly strong and sure dragon, I lack the confidence to remain peaceably in the air. And more often than not, the dragon gets very angry with me because I’m clinging so tightly to its scales as to cause pain. To a dragon. But water? I can do water. When I swim in my sleep, I’m afraid for about three seconds until I realize I can breathe under water. And it’s amazing. Exhilarating. Magical. 

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Winter in Bloom: New Ink

Sounds weird, right? Nothing blooms in winter.

So last Summer, as I considered what I wanted to get for my new tattoo – the all-important, representing-my-life-and-it’s-many-woes-and-wins-since-Eli-was-born ink – I ran the gamut. Flowers? Dead flowers? A specific plant that blooms once and then dies, but in its bloom is utterly magnificent? And how to represent the family around it? Birds. Okay, birds. But what birds? What kind of bird would Paul be? And Matt? And Eli?

Well, finally, I settled and simplified and landed on a barren tree – you know, for barren me – with four little nondescript birds hanging around, one of which would be flying away (because, you know, Matt’s 15 now and about to…fly…away…).

I scheduled the appointment for the weekend after my birthday with an artist in Nashville. He’d done my Amaro-Rwot tattoo, which I love Love LOVE, so naturally I assumed this one would be equally awesome. Right?

Wrong:

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From the Ground Up

For a good long while now, I’ve been admiring my friend Jen Woodhouse’s incredible creativity from near and far. She’s a gifted singer/songwriter, an incredible mother, a phenomenal cook, and – dun dun dun – she builds stuff. Like, really really cool stuff. Not just weird crap. She builds massive Restoration-Hardware-esque end tables and wine cabinets.

And I jealously wished I could do it too. Then she introduced me to ana-white.com and her thousands and thousands and thousands of DIY plans for every imaginable piece of furniture, and I thought, “Huh. Maybe I could do something like that.”

Plus…well, I’m a stay at home mom, and sometimes, just sometimes, I worry that I’m not really contributing enough to our house and home. And this…well, this was a way that I could do something. Something that not only saves us money (it’s significantly cheaper to build a knock-off Restoration Hardware bench or a dining room table or a headboard than it is to buy one, as it turns out…) but can also maybe become an heirloom for our kids – the product of our own sweat and sawdust, a lesson on how to live simpler lives using our own hands.

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I Am An Ultra-Marathoner (eeeeee!)

The Beginning. 7am. Sunrise on Spirit Mountain. Incredible

Three years in the making. That’s what yesterday’s achievement was.

Achievement? I’m not sure that’s the right word. It felt so much more colossal than that, and yet…so much less. At the finish, I simultaneously felt like I hadn’t done anything all that incredible, and like I’d conquered the universe.

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The Tomb, The Womb, The Imposter, and The Beloved

God is in the kitchen.

I know it if by no other fact than the myriad themes running through my life, iterated by everyone from friends to my therapist to our pastor to daily Scripture to the devotional book I randomly found gathering dust under my bed.

The Tomb. The Womb. The Imposter. The Beloved. The Labor Pains. The parallels woven throughout.

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