Because That’s How I Roll….

If you stretch my life experiences out into one giant timeline, the embarrassing parts would no doubt look overwhelming. The parts of my life filled with embarrassment are superseded only by the parts filled with love. And so, it is with anticipation that I share the following story with you, friends. Be prepared to lose any shred of respect you may still have for me. It’s a doozy.

Sadly, this story happened only 7 or 8 years ago. Which means, I was an adult. Not only an adult, but an adult that had already gotten married and had a child. But embarrassment, the second cousin to tragedy, seems to be no respecter of persons, or age. It was my first shift as the lead, or supervisor, on duty. I was nervous, because I genuinely wanted to do a good job, and because some of the people I was now supervising had applied for the position. Fourteen foster children and 6 staff members were all on my shoulders. No pressure. Except, as the day went on, it turned out that there was a lot of pressure, of the most unfortunate kind.

I don’t know what I ate, but it did not agree with me. For hours the gas built in my system. Well, why didn’t you go to the bathroom, you might ask. But at my work there is only one staff bathroom and the door might as well be made of rice paper. And I am not such a delicate flower. But if there is anything years of being spanked growing up have taught me, it is how to clench. And so I did. For hours.

Through sharp pains and dull. Through gurgles and discomfort. I kept my eyes on the prize. I knew that I would be leaving right after the kids ate their dinner, and going home to sweet relief. That kind of focus, and determination, came from years of practice. I could do this. This was my area of athletics.

Finally, dinner time had come. I could barely walk around the dining room to pour the children’s milk, the pain was so bad. But I made it. I placed the milk jug on the counter, a quiet thud of victory. The incoming staff came into the dining room to change us all out. I was home free. I walked towards the next shifts lead like a soldier who has just survived a grisly battle, and lived through it. Stomp, stomp, stomp. I placed one determined foot in front of the other.

I walked with such purpose that I didn’t even notice the three year old girl throwing her hot dog onto the floor in front of me. I stepped on that mother with everything in me, creaming it into the linoleum flooring. It became the banana peel to my looney tune, and I rode it. I flew up into the air, flipped over onto my stomach, and landed heavily. And literally knocked the wind out of myself. Only, I wish the wind I am referring to had come from my chest. I passed gas like my life depended on it. Unearthly noises and smells emanated from my body. All the while, I was unable to stop it. I looked around, at the children and staff, and wished I hadn’t. They stared, transfixed by my situation. My closest friend stood covering her mouth in horror and amusement, like she was embarrassed for me, and to know me. And still, I farted. I could not quit doing so, until every last vapor had removed itself from my digestive tract.

And so, I did what any self-respecting woman in my situation would do. I laughed. I laughed like a banshee screams. Crazed by my embarrassment, I laid on that floor and howled. My giant body shook as I laughed until I cried, still laying on the floor. Until finally, the tears and gas, and teargas, let up. And so, I got up, said excuse me as calmly as I could muster, and walked out the door.

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Keep On Keeping On

One of my favorite things about being married is that you have somebody to fall in love with over and over again for the rest of your life. It is a gift, this having someone to walk with on your journey. But sometimes, I take that gift for granted. Sometimes, I forget that marriage means not only that they walk with me on my journey, but that I have to take roads I never intended to go down, to stay by their side on their journey.

Anyone who knows my husband and I, knows that we have not had the most storybook of romances. While there has been lots of dancing, we have never locked eyes or dropped glass slippers at a ball. My husband is much more likely to eat an apple and take a years long nap, while I fight the dragon and then have to figure out how to wake him from his slumber. My hair is far too short to allow him entrance to any tower. And,unlike the little mermaid, I haven’t been willing to give up my voice to win any guy since I was a sophomore in high school.

But here we are, five kids and twelve years later. Still going.

I often think about how I will explain our story to our children. How I will tell them that I divorced their father, then how I fell in love with him again, and remarried him. How I will explain that I have made him leave since then, but how we have come back together again. Our story is not that is easy to understand. It hasn’t always even been easy to live. But we have. We have made it through so much of the muck in this life, and somehow come out on the other side, cleaner.

We have had the unlikely fortune to become stronger than we were before we were broken. While the breaks have hurt in ways that I never would have imagined, somehow, they have healed. Like a bone that has to be broken in order to set the body to rights. But without the doctors warning or valium. Slow and painful, but sure. Which is also how healing has come. But even in the midst of all of it, there has been grace.

Not necessarily on my part. But for me. For him. Inexplicable grace. And laughter. Which is really just another form of grace anyway. To be able to laugh in the midst of this world and all its suffering, that’s grace. And we have worn it. Have used it. Have laughed our way through our journey. Sometimes with tears in our eyes, others with unencumbered joy in our hearts. I am so glad that we have.

I always tell people who look shocked by how many children we have, that it is not a quiet house, but it’s a happy house. As much as there is laughter ringing off the walls, there is even more love. Like a balm, it fills up all our cracked places and makes it so they don’t hurt anymore. And there is second chances. It seems to be the hallmark of our story. Redemption and restoration. Trying again and again. Waking up every morning and getting out of bed, and being better to each other than we were the day before. And before you know it, we have fallen, so deeply, so completely, in love with each other all over again.

No, our story is not in any fairy tale. It is better. It is real and raw and ongoing. And it is ours. Let Snow White live happily ever after. My husband and I will be here, together, living hilariously ever after.