Yesterday, my sisters-in-law Jenny and Kristen and I ran the Mother's Day 5k at Magnuson Park. It was my first 5k (except one in college that I mostly walked). I was nervous because I hadn't done any training in the weeks leading up to the race and I was pretty sure I would have to walk part of it. Jenny and Kristen had both been running several times a week and Kristen ran a marathon a year or so ago, so I wasn't feeling confident. Going into it I had no expectations for myself. I just wanted to finish and not come in dead last. I was happy to let them go ahead of me if I had to walk, but Kristen was pretty insistent that we stay together. As we approached the first curve we saw Bryan, Kyle, Jeff, and our seven collective children cheering us on. Once we got going we actually got into a pretty good groove. I focused on breathing and pushing off with the balls of my feet to propel me forward. Around mile two I felt like I could run forever. The time went much more quickly than I thought it would, and when we got tired and felt like walking, we encouraged each other to keep going and adjusted our pace to accommodate each other. We rounded the last curve and saw our families waiting for us. The looks on the kids' faces as they saw us was priceless, this mixture of surprise, recognition, excitement, and relief all emanating from their tiny bodies. Then we ran the last few hundred feet through a tunnel of people and cameras and crossed the finish line together. It was a wonderful feeling.
Jenny said that when she finishes running and looks back on it in her mind, she remembers herself floating rather than running. I loved that image, the three of us floating alongside Lake Washington in a sea of women, encouraging each other and focusing our mental and physical energy on a common goal. This is such a great metaphor for motherhood, and really for life in general. I have the tendency to let myself feel isolated at times, but when we come alongside each other in companionship and in encouragement, in suffering and in celebration, when we help carry each other's burdens and share in beauty, everything is better.
Last week I spent the afternoon at Joey's house with her and Bridget and our seven kids. We lounged on a quilt under a lilac tree in the sunshine while the older kids played in the sprinkler and the babies sat on our laps. We sipped limonatas and reminisced about our own childhood summers. In the evening we put the babies to bed and our husbands joined us for dinner around the fire pit. It was one of those magical spontaneous days that we couldn't have planned any better. It made mothering feel so much easier because we were together.
As Bryan and I continue dreaming and talking about buying a house, we go back and forth between wanting to get a big house with acreage farther out of the city and finding something with a smaller lot in town so we can be closer to family and friends. It's tough because we want room for our kids to roam and explore and we want to grow vegetables and raise chickens, but it's expensive to do that in the city. And we want it to be easy to get together with our loved ones, but it would be much more difficult if we lived out of town. And because we want to be engaged in our community, if we moved out of town we would have to start over — new church, new friends. I'm up for an adventure and I'm pretty confident that I could make new friends, but I am heavily invested in the friendships I have now, and I'm not keen on leaving them.
So I'm praying and hoping for the perfect house to come along at the perfect time: A charming craftsman or farmhouse with high ceilings and vintage touches, a rocking chair front porch, a peak-roofed attic space for my writing desk, and a big backyard with fruit trees and room for chickens and a vegetable garden in the Greenwood neighborhood, all for a price that allows us some breathing room. I know they exist, so if you know of one for sale, let me know!
On a final Mother's Day note, I've learned that what I desire most from those closest to me is to feel heard and known. My mom went to the women's retreat with me a couple of weeks ago to help me with John, who is still nursing and couldn't be left at home. On Saturday night we sat in our hotel room with a bottle of wine talking, and I started sobbing about feeling like a horrible mother and that I was damaging my kids and how I felt inadequate to deal with the atrocities in the world, like human trafficking, and on and on, just spilling my heart out. My mom sat next to me and rubbed my back and told me I was being too hard on myself and that she would love to help out with the kids more. It was such a gift to have that time with my mom, to connect with her again in that way, to feel like her daughter, loved and known. I want to do that for my kids. I want to be present with them, turn towards them, listen to their hearts and give them comfort. It's so easy to get distracted, but I pray that God would give me ears to hear and eyes to see the beautiful creatures they are and send them out into the world feeling secure, confident, and loved so they can love others with their whole hearts. Luckily, I have many people who love me and are helping me be the best mom I can be. I'm so thankful that I'm not alone.