In This Moment

I wrote this out as a go-to for those moments in motherhood where I feel overwhelmed. The moments where I convince myself that I’m actually on the verge of a mid-life crisis, when really I’m only on the verge of my period.

I’ll let you know if this letter helps….next month. 

In This Moment…

I will remember that you are little and your feelings are big.
I will remember that I have big feelings too.

I will remember that you are capable of having bad days, bad moods; more than human moments and less than ideal moments.
I will remember that I am too.

I will remember that you may be having a hard time but you are not giving me a hard time.
I will remember that a hard time doesn’t mean a hard life.

I will remember what you do not know — like how to manage time and your emotions, and why naps are important.
And I will remember what you do know — like kisses, and safety, and that I am your person. 

I will remember that you the world is too big and not big enough for you – that your curiosity is your strength.
I will remember that letting go is my lesson.

I will remember that you know no other way than being close to me. 
And.
I will remember that it is okay for me to step away for a moment to allow myself to come back more open for you for more moments.
I will remember that your closeness is a gift.

I will remember that in your crying there is still breath.
I will remember to breathe.

I will remember that you are learning.
I will remember that I am too.

I will remember that your wordless sounds and hard to hear tears are your only voice.
I will remember to listen.
And.
I will remember that I have words and they must be soft.

I will remember that your innocence does not know guilt; only grace.
I will remember to accept grace. 

I will remember that it is my job to teach you that you are lovable and capable and kind and important and valuable.
I will remember that it is my job to teach you that you are good enough. 
And.
I will remember that I am all of those, too. 


Good Friday.

I haven’t figured out if today, on Good Friday, is the day I feel the closest to Jesus. Or. If it’s the day I feel the farthest from him.

Regardless, it’s the day I ache the most for Jesus. Or maybe what’s more true is that it’s the day I ache the most with Jesus. If I am brave enough to believe I can be with him. 

Good Friday is the Christian holy-day that marks Jesus’ crucifixion. It is the dark day — the day before we wait, two days before we watch death come to life. It is death’s anniversary. And anyone who knows death knows how awful the anniversaries are. The aches are always in the anniversaries.

The ache of absence. The absence of life. The presence of loss.

I sit with this day. This ache. And I long to mark it. To tell Jesus I feel it. And maybe what’s more true is I long to tell Jesus I feel him. If I am brave enough to believe I can feel him. 

If I’m really honest, I long to mark this day in a church. Every year, I long for a church community to mark these three days with. I call myself a recovering Christian, which offends some and resonates with others. All I mean by that label is that I was raised in the church and came to use the religious structure of conservative Christianity like a drug. To numb me. To protect me. To harden me. To judge me. To do anything but love me. Even though they told me it was all about God loving me.

So slowly, but surely, I quit using church. And slowly, but surely, I started finding God. 

But these three days — four if you include yesterday’s Last Supper (which we should always include the food) — I feel a magnetic pull back to church. But not the religious structure, the people. Maybe that’s why Easter and Christmas Eve are the most attended church services — maybe I’m not the only one being pulled. Maybe I’m not the only one aching.

Maybe I am not the only one aching

That is all I hope to find in church. People that are aching. A preacher that tells me I am not the only one aching. And yet it seems they try to offer so much more. Some wanting to fix my ache, others wanting to ignore it, others wanting to pray for it. I used to know why they wanted to talk to God about my ache. I used to want to talk to God about it too. Until. I discovered God in my ache. As if maybe God might actually live there.

As if maybe God might actually live.

Maybe I’ll show up in a sanctuary on Sunday. Maybe my son will crawl through the pews for the first time in his life. Maybe life will breathe and hope will exhale.

Or maybe I’ll go to get donuts with my family. Maybe my son will have a bite of a donut for the first time in his life. Maybe laughter will breathe and kindness will exhale. 

Regardless, I will ache to be with Jesus. As if I am brave enough to believe I can be with him.

Regardless, I will hope to feel God living in my ache.

Regardless, I will hope to feel God living.

Heart Work.

I have an ongoing list – partially jotted down, partially in my head – of all the things they don’t tell you about motherhood. It’s quite extensive and basically gets to the premise that before becoming a mother, one should try to mother a wild animal first. If you can bathe and diaper a wild boar, gracefully and with a fair amount of ease, you might be ready to mother. Maybe. 

If you can then take a roadtrip with the clean wild boar, and answer all of its screams or oinks or snorts with love and affirmation, then you are definitely ready. Maybe.

Regardless of everything they don’t tell you, there is one thing they always tell you:

Mothering is hard work. 

In our capitalistic, labor loving society, I took this as hard, physical work. Sure some babies may not start out heavy but they all become heavy before they are walking. And don’t even get me started on how heavy their damn car seats are. But even when they start walking, they are still like really short tiny humans. So you’ve gotta be hunched over holding their hands. And even when you’re rocking them to sleep and they are all precious and peaceful, you can’t not look at them. It’s impossible. Therefore so is avoiding a crick in your neck.

I was ready for that hard work. Not because I’m some sort of crossfit ninja warrior. I mean, I’m scrappy as hell, but I was ready because I had established care with a chiropractor and massage therapist. 

But that’s not what they mean when they say “mothering is hard work”. They mean:

Mothering is heart work. 

Motherhood is hard work because motherhood is heart work. 

And in our capitalistic, labor loving society heart work is not only undervalued, it’s unvalued. It might not even be seen.

But heart work is the hardest work. Regardless of if it is noticed. Or applauded.

Heart work is whatever we do in our life that demands our full presence, that rips us wide open, that shatters our pretenses and presumptions; that shatters us. And then. Heart work is whatever we do in our life that demands our full healing; that heals us. 

The best and worst part of those two kinds of heart work? They are always the exact same thing. Meaning what shatters us also heals us. What annihilates us also ignites us. What leaves us with nothing also gives us everything. This is the premise of heart work — it has to be both. It can’t just shatter us. It can’t just heal us. It has to do both.

My heart work, right now, is mothering. But mothering isn’t the only heart work. Teachers – they are the heartest workers. Activists – heart workers. Justice seekers – heart workers. Therapists – heart workers. Social workers – heart workers. The list goes on and on and on…(but does not include Donald Trump. Damn I was trying not to get political but it slipped.)

Heart work is often the hardest work that goes unseen. In the same way our heart pumps life through our bodies without any conscious prompting or effort, heart work pumps life from our bodies without any applause or ovation. 

So yes, right now, my heartest work is mothering. Mothering myself and my son. And part of that mothering means noticing.

So much of mothering means noticing.

Noticing my heart work. Noticing my son’s heart work. 

And standing with applause.

Ocean.

Some women transition seemingly seamlessly into motherhood. I was not one of those women. I could list the reasons why we struggled, why I struggled, but there is no sense in reasoning. Because regardless of reason, depression exists. Postpartum depression exists. And regardless of reason, it is real. But too often, women, mamas, suffer silently. And shame lives in the silence. So in refusing to be quieted, in refusing to get too comfortable with shame, I share this post. I wrote this when Elden was about five months old – my husband took the day off work and my dear friend drove me to the ocean for a few hours. I was in the throws of awestruck love, hormone changes, and the harsh reality of depression. 

Guess what?
Good mothers can be depressed.
Brutality can exist alongside bliss. 

I could share where I am now, to offer hope, to offer some sentimentality about the light at the end of the tunnel, but this post isn’t about where I am now. This post is about where I was then. This post is simultaneously about the tunnel and the truth that the light isn’t at the end of it – the light is wherever you are in the tunnel. Because after depression has its way, the light remains. Because after depression has its way, you remain.

Because you are the light.

Lets bring ourselves, our light, together to end the stigma, the pressure, the shame that mothers carry. We already know a mother’s arms are too full.

Mamasté,
Noelle René

Ocean

I came to the ocean
to see if I could find her
I know she loves the ocean
the steady power. the fierce calm. the moving stillness.
the repetition. the in and out. the filling and emptying.
the building and crashing
over. and over. and over.
again

I came to the ocean
to witness my beached self
large. heavy. desperate to be.
thrown back
nudged back
washed back
to water
to safety

Continue reading

Soapbox.

Stop it. Stop it right now. I am actually begging you. Stop telling moms (or parents in general) to “just wait…”

Just wait till he’s a teenager.
Just wait till he doesn’t like you.
Just wait till he’s talking back.
Just wait till he’s walking.
Just wait till he goes to school.
Just wait till he has his first heartbreak.
Just wait…

Stop it. Stop it right now. I am actually begging you.

While I know the intention is good and maybe what you’re wanting me to wait for is good — (AND maybe the intention is actually an invitation to share some of your own story) — but if I got caught up in just waiting, I would miss just being.

And my god, all I want to do is be.

I don’t want to conjure up ideas of who my son might be. I want to be with who he is. With what he’s doing now. With how his laughter sounds now. With how he feels and smells and moves now. I don’t want to create and cross and burn bridges before they are even built. I want to walk slowly along the water, holding his hand for as long as he wants to hold mine, and discover and build bridges together. Cross them, together. Burn them, together.

You see when we get too busy, too caught up with what’s coming, we lose focus and intention on what is. Now. Who we are and who we are with. Now. And when we lose that connection to what is, we lose our ability to be awe-filled. There’s a reason the first time my son rolled over you would have thought he cured cancer by our reaction. There’s a reason his first tooth made my eyes well with tears. In those moments — the moments where I am so moved by life — I know I am present; fully aware. I know I’m not being pulled anywhere but into the ground that I am standing on. I am unfazed by all that is awful in the world and I am mesmerized by all that is awe-filled.

In this sense, being costs more than waiting. It demands full attention, full awareness; it demands you — all of you. It demands you feel the grips of exhaustion as fully as you feel the heights of bliss. It demands your grief as equally as your joy. It demands your crucifixion and your resurrection. Being demands your knowing. Knowing yourself enough to make yourself known. And then. Knowing yourself enough to have the capacity to make an other feel known. Loved. Lovable. Seen. Heard. Valued. Important.

Being requires knowing and noticing. Noticing all the ways the world vies for our attention. And then. Being requires effort. Effort to not give our attention to that which isn’t most worthy. And what is most worthy? Usually, I start with what, or who, is right in front of me.

And guess who is always right in front of me? My own self.

I am most worthy. And I am most tired of waiting. Waiting for myself to be different — to be more courageous and less anxious, to be more grounded and less emotional, to have one more half inch of height and one less dose of self doubt, more patience, less sensitivity. I have spent years waiting, working, at being different. Mothering is inviting me to spend the next years being. With myself, graciously, so that I can be with my son, fully. He is worthy of my presence. My full attention.

And. He is no more or no less worthy than any of us. Than myself. We are worthy of our own presence. Of each other’s presence. We are worthy of moment after moment after moment where we are so slowed, so aware, so awe-filled by the magnitude of bearing witness to one another; bearing witness to life.

So please, stop telling me to wait for what is coming. I am busy bearing witness to what is.