Tag Archives: Seasons of Life

When a Mom’s Love Looks Like Meatballs and Biscotti

A few weeks after I officially graduated from college, I had major surgery to remove a grapefruit-sized cyst on my ovary (and, it turned out, repair other damage from the severe endometriosis I didn’t know I had).

I had completed my coursework a semester early and was back living with my parents because my first “real” job didn’t pay much. This arrangement, while maybe not what I had hoped for, turned out to be providential because I was able to recover at home with plenty of TLC from my mom.

One of my fondest memories from this period in my life is sitting on a comfy chair in the family room, eating my mom’s Italian meatballs while an NBA playoff game aired on the TV in the background. (I had zero interest in professional basketball; I suppose I remember that detail because this scene is captured so beautifully in my mind.)

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Hope for the Heavy Seasons

When we adopted Lilly—14 years ago last week—she was 9 months old and weighed about 17 pounds.

lois-randy-lilly-chinaThat might not seem like much, but she was a chunk of a little girl—so much so that people we met in elevators and restaurants in China often mistook her for a 2-year-old.

I had worked on my cardiovascular fitness in the months leading up to our adoption trip, and my regular runs on the treadmill prepared me to traverse the Great Wall with relative ease. My upper body strength, however, was a different story entirely.

My arms and back were so weak that I could hold Lilly for only a few minutes at a time before passing her off to Randy. As a result, when we were out and about in China, she spent most of her time chewing on the strap of the Snugli that held her close to his chest.

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When the Words Went Away

I don’t keep a diary.

I journal my prayers, if you want to call it that, but mostly as a way to stay focused. (I get distracted very easily, especially when I am talking to God in my head.)

yellow tulips

As far as keeping a record of daily happenings, though, I don’t do it. Every now and then, however—especially before I got back into writing regularly—I’d sit down at the laptop and pound out a paragraph or two about whatever pressing thing was on my mind at the time. When I was done, I’d give the file a name I’d be sure to remember (ahem), close the document and forget about it.

Until I stumbled upon it later, that is.

Which is what I did recently when I found a little gem I wrote on Sept. 3, 2010.

To put it in context, this was about four and a half years after we uprooted ourselves from a very comfortable life in Arkansas and moved back to my home state, roughly 12 miles from where I grew up. Before we moved, I had a steady freelance writing/editing job. When we moved, I gave that up to focus on being a full-time mom and homemaker, and I hadn’t really written much of anything since.

I thought about writing a lot, and wondered when I would start again, but I never actually did. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I couldn’t.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s exactly what I wrote:

There’s no time like the present to start writing again. For years—yes, years—I have been waiting for the perfect scenario. I would be all caught up on all projects that I’ve been putting off for months—Molly’s [adoption] scrapbook, all the family photo albums, cleaning the house from top to bottom, organizing all the drawers, etc.

I would have called all the friends I have neglected for four years and had long, meaningful conversations with them. I would have arranged my schedule to include at least three complete mornings a week with no plans—no shopping, no cleaning, no meetings, nothing. I would be in my most creative phase, hormonally. I would be well rested. I would be coming off a productive quiet time.

My flower beds would all be weeded, supper already in the Crock-Pot at 8:30 a.m. and nothing else left to do. I would sit down with all the pieces of paper that I have scribbled notes on for the last eight years. I would organize them all into a perfect outline. Then—then, I thought—I would start writing. Not a blog, not an article, but a complete book, from start to finish, without stopping. I did that once, you know. Why not again?

OK then. That may be the funniest thing I’ve ever written. Or the most pathetic—I’m not sure which.

Apparently, I wrote it because I thought I was about to stop waiting for the perfect scenario and just start writing again. But as you’ve probably guessed, that’s not what happened.

I finally wrote Molly’s scrapbook in January 2013 (seven years after we brought her home from China), but I’ve penned no more books from start to finish. I have written an extensive outline and a couple of chapters, but neither that nor any other writing of much substance happened for at least three years after I wrote my little proclamation.

As a person who used to make her living writing, my season of no writing used to stress me out. When am I going to start writing again? I’d wonder. What if I can’t do it anymore?

During this time, I’m sure I broke every tried-and-true rule about writing and writer’s block there is. Just write through it. Write at the same time every day. Write for 15 minutes a day. Start a blog. Join a writers’ group.

I did none of these.

It wasn’t a matter of mechanics with me. It wasn’t that I wasn’t a “real” writer anymore. My problem was emotional, spiritual, hormonal, even physical.

I hadn’t forgotten how to write. I just had nothing to say. And whenever I tried, my neck tightened up and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

This pattern continued well after I wrote that little bit on Sept. 3, 2010.

Then one day, I just decided to stop worrying about it.

I will write again—I know I will. I told myself. It’s what I’m trained to do. It’s how I’m wired. It’s what I’ve always done.

This season in the wilderness has a point. Some day, I will write about it, and it will help someone else.

I then went on about my life without a writing schedule, believing that when the time was right, I would know it.

And I did.

I started small, with a toe dip here and there. I’m still going slowly (much to the chagrin of my husband who just wishes I would hurry up and finish that book I started last year).

Yes, I have some work to do in the procrastination department, but I’m not in a hurry. If there’s one thing I’ve realized over the years, it’s that words cannot be forced. They need to simmer until they’re done, however long that takes.

There’s also a difference when I write now. My neck doesn’t hurt when I think about it. The words are coming more easily. I can write with music on in the background, or not. It doesn’t matter what the house looks like, or whether I have concrete plans for supper. Sometimes I can write something meaningful in five minutes; sometimes it takes an hour. Either way is OK.

I still have my struggles, but I’m not the person I was when I was waiting for the perfect scenario. And, as sheepish as I feel when I read what I wrote back then, I’m glad I saved it.

More than anything else, it shows me that those years in the wilderness were not wasted. They had a purpose, a point, a reason. I felt like I was dormant, but under the surface, I was still growing.

Spring was on the way, and I’m glad I was patient enough (for once in my life) to wait for it to arrive on its own.

Lois Flowers

P.S. I’m linking up today with Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory and Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith.