Embrace It

Monday mornings are maintenance days. I like to knock it all out: laundry, room pickup, groceries, emails about activity carpools, you name it.  Push the flock out of the roost, have some space in my house. Monday is admin day. The problem is Cheyney, my 3 year old, does not have school on Monday and she has no idea what “admin” or efficiency mean. One wise mother once told me 3 year olds have two speeds: meandering and running and they always do the opposite of what you want.

This weekend had been particularly crazy for me. I ran a 10 mile race through Chapel Hill in the cold. The course was scenic, meandering through beautiful quiet neighborhoods. They were eerily quiet on a Saturday morning at 7:30 AM and I kept thinking of people living in those houses drinking hot coffee and reading The New York Times. There were switchbacks and loops through the race so I could never tell if I was gaining ground or losing speed on the pack. Usually when I run, I use my dodging expertise honed from the Atari game Frogger back in 1983.  The object of Frogger was to get your frog across the road without being run over by a car. The joystick moved the green guy up and down, left to right, and the orange button in the top left corner enabled him to jump. The moves had to be timed perfectly in order to avoid moving targets. I see my fellow runners in a similar way: go left around that one, squeeze through those two, and maybe pull out on the right for a good clearing. It’s crazy but it makes the race go faster. And frankly, running is crazy in and of itself. I actually pay money to wake up at some hour beginning with a 5, stand around with a bunch of strangers and then run for two hours all for a medal and a tissue thin tinfoil blanket. There is of course the whole accomplishment thing and calorie burning bonus which are my real motivating forces but still it seems a tad demented.

The worst part of this race was the last  1 and a 1/2 miles which were uphill, so much so that many runners were walking. A steep incline at the end of the race is, well, insult to injury. A hill pulls on your hamstrings and ankle joints and it plays with your head. It feel like someone is sitting on your chest while you are trying to breathe. The only reason I kept running was to be finished faster. And then…it’s over. We finished in sub 8-minute miles, got a cup of water, and drove home to Raleigh by 10 AM. The irony is the race was the easier part of the day. If at home, I would have whipped up pancakes and struggled not to yell when the egg yolk ended up on the kitchen floor while my 3 girls learn to cook.

The rest of the day I reffed 4 lacrosse games, attended  a 2 year old birthday party with the family, and told my husband I was physically too tired to attend the wedding of a friend. Greg and I don’t do weddings together very often. He either can’t make it because he works on Sunday or he is officiating. I am the awkward guest, sitting alone in the pew. Next time you go to a wedding, see how many people are solo. Weddings and church are hard places to be alone. It feels like Noah’s ark where everyone is paired in twos. During the peace, I get a pang of high school insecurity as I stand alone, waiting for my neighbors to finish greeting their partner with a handshake or hug and then turn to me. Episcopalians tend to sit in the same place every Sunday. Mine is on the left, 7 rows up from the back, as close to the aisle as possible. I recently found out a newcomer felt sorry for me. She wanted to know what was wrong with my husband (if there was one), why he couldn’t get to church on a Sunday morning. My friend Lee graciously had to tell her, I was the rector’s wife.

Sunday morning came fast and went relatively smoothly. We have graduated out of the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru breakfast but there was a stretch of about 2 years when that was the only way I could get myself and the 3 girls to church. It was bribery I know but it was the best $9.43 I spent each week. And their coffee is really, really good. Home for lunch, dash off to coach lacrosse and then play a two hour tennis match. When I got home I had to pay the babysitter in quarters, eight dollars worth. I thought it was funny but she was not impressed.

A house falls out of order quicker than a deck of cards falls. I had a 4 hour window to build it back and a 3 year old to help. We started getting off track at our first stop, church. Cheyney wanted to play hide and seek. She wanted to get her daily lollipop from Ms. Jennifer. She wanted to say hi to her teacher Ms. Betsy. She wanted to see if Sooz was working. She wanted to see if Ms Garey had chocolate. She wanted to see if Daddy was there, ride the elevator, say hi to Buddy, climb the wall, race around Ben’s tree, balance on the curb. Anything but get in the car. I even played along for the hide and seek bit. I figured it was better to be looking for Cheyney around a bush than  panicking in the grocery store after losing her in the produce section (which has happened to my kids twice, once in the lingerie department of Belk and the other in the candy aisle of Costco). I had fun. I laughed. I explored. I saw a friend. I smelled a flower. I rejoiced when Cheyney spotted a smooshed worm and wanted to get in the car so it wouldn’t get her.

Job had the patience of a mother.

I embraced Cheyney’s dawdling. And it wasn’t nearly as frustrating waiting for her. And then I started thinking. God is patient. He waits around while we flit and float and meander through life. God lets us look for lollipops or run races, and meets us where we are. I have yet to set my alarm for “the fives” to read the bible or pray but I have had conversations with God in my sneakers. I have gotten the metaphor of faith when it has been so dark on the road I can literally only see the one step in front of me and no further. I have had fellowship with my friend Ashley as we wrangle with self and kids and marriage. I have heard chirping birds and been thankful for a new day. I have been overwhelmed with a feeling of gratefulness as I say the prayer, I run because I can and for those who can’t.

I believe God embraces us for who we are. He wants us to know ourselves as well as He knows us. God wants us to be a gift to each other and to ourselves. Be where you are. God will be there too.

11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by LCM on April 12, 2011 at 10:16 am

    A wonderful way for me to wake up with my cup of coffee!!


  2. Keep it up Melanie! I look forward to reading! Xxx


  3. You are such a great essayist. These are my favorite parts of what you wrote:

    “One wise mother once told me 3 year olds have two speeds: meandering and running and they always do the opposite of what you want.”

    and “Job had the patience of a mother”
    and “I have yet to set my alarm for “the fives” to read the bible or pray but I have had conversations with God in my sneakers. I have gotten the metaphor of faith when it has been so dark on the road I can literally only see the one step in front of me and no further….I run because I can and for those who can’t.”


  4. Posted by carrie yorker on April 12, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I love this…I have had a very crazy week and this helped me take a minute to catch my breath…thanks for sharing!


  5. you have all the right elements: the small moments that add up to the reality of your life, your tireless pursuit of a goal — be it order, running or connection — and God’s role every moment. Beautifully done.


  6. Posted by Lisa Burnes on April 12, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Love it so much Mel, especially Lamb’s Tale-esque title, you had graduated but our final yearbook was “not your mother’s yearbook”…this got me thinking, my TNF trail running series starts in 4 weeks and I just started my training for Bear Mountain, NY in May, I try to do the half at each stop. Any chance you could come to DC the weekend of June 4-5 and run with me? I was contemplating doing the full as it is a pretty flat course, but would need a little motivation as running a full marathon would require actual training, and I prefer to fly off the couch 🙂 BUT, if you were up for it, I would be! Maybe we can get Al to run too? I’ll probably hit LH on the Sunday night, if that sweetens the pot at all! I can’t be selfish and hope for two weekends in a one month period, but maybe you could bring the girls up too! Just a thought…MISS YOU!


  7. Posted by Julie on April 12, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    It is so funny that you mention, sitting alone in church. That was a weird part of being a preacher’s wife.

    I have kept my seat in the back row, near the aisle, old habit of having children and maybe having to make a mad dash out of church. Unfortunately now, it is because it’s nearer to the bathroom.

    But now with Larry gone, I never mind being alone at church any longer. Not only do I feel his (Larry’s) presence there, but I have St. Michael’s around me. I find lots of comfort there and I get to sit next to the two nices people I know! Sandy Page has a great voice too, she makes me sound good.

    I am thrilled that you are writing all of this down. Because of the preacher’s wife connection, it is fun to see a little part of what I went through too. Just wanted you to know that I am paying attention and I love what you are writing.


  8. Mel, love your blog! I was reading the other day about not waiting for big opportunities to build a spiritual life… but instead looking at the daily events, minor joys and frustrations, as opportunities for spiritual growth. I hear you saying much the same here — thanks for this message! (Which I need in the midst of errant computer techs, strong personalities, reports to create, baseball, dance, and a house always on the tippy edge of chaos)


  9. Posted by BAB on April 13, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Your momma shared your blog with me; you and I share the spare room at her house for overnights. She is a gracious and loving friend and you are a child of God. Keep writing.

    I have Coco’s autograph on Greg’s book, too.

    Might be able to one-up you on getting three kids out of the house. Mine bathed, storied, prayed, and literally slept in their school clothes so that all we had to do was hop out of bed and into the van each morning. My youngest, Andy, came home one day, “Mom, Mom! Guess what? People have clothes just for sleeping! They are called pajamas!”

    Someday, we will meet.


  10. Posted by Lyn Adkins on April 13, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Mel – Love it! And can’t wait to read more. You are a fabulous writer. One of my fav. lines is “I am a preacher’s wife and I don’t where beige, but you may catch me one Sunday morning, rushing in the back door of church in fishnet hose and heels.” I’m so happy you are blogging!


  11. Posted by Linda Berry on April 18, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Hope you don’t mind me sneaking in to read your blog. Lee and Susan told me how wonderful it was and I yearned to read your thoughts. I was not disappointed. Thanks for sharing and keep it up!!


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