On Loving People Who Are Hot Messes

Today, shortly after Henry collapsed on the floor in a fit of rage/despair because I put his French toast on the wrong plate, I smiled at him and said:

“I know what this is. I have seen this before. THIS is the Terrible 2’s.”

I said,

“Henry, you are going to make it. You cannot tantrum loud enough to phase me because I know from whence this comes. Chances are you’re going to come through this at least relatively well-adjusted.”

I said, out loud:

I am not afraid of your tantrum. You are impossibly loved even when you are a raging, despairing, irrational, hot mess. Bring it on, man.

YOU GUYS.  Every grown person needs someone to tell them this. “I am not afraid of your tantrum. You cannot tantrum loud enough to scare me away. I love you when you are a raging, despairing, irrational hot mess."

Having kids helps me to love grown ups better. When someone is difficult to love, look for “whence it comes.” 

And do you know what I just love about God? That He is big enough to handle my rage. That I cannot be irrational enough to phase Him. God is like, "I know what this is. I've seen this before. THIS is your Terrible Human Condition. Bring it on, man. Let me show you what immovable, unyielding, patient, forever-love looks like. Just rage 'til you're tired, and when you look up, you'll find me right here." God's love is bigger than my irrationality, and every time I look up, I see that I've been loved all along. 

Love With Food

My precious, kindred-spirit college friend came for brunch this morning. 

Brunch Punch

By “came for brunch” I obviously mean that she brought brunch.  Our conversation went something like this:

Me:  Wow, what is all of this?

Aliesha: Well, these are homemade blueberry scones.  *Lifts out three more containers.*  And a quiche with red peppers and onions, zucchini muffins, and fresh berries.

Me: Is this bacon?

Aliesha: Yes. And it’s glazed with brown sugar and cayenne pepper.

Me: Is that cranberry and orange juice?

Aliesha: Mmhmm, and pineapple. It just needs…

*pours in a bottle of San Pellegrino.*

Me: This iced coffee is delicious. What’s in it?

Aliesha: Sweetened condensed milk.

I should mention that she is sixteen weeks pregnant and was also (inexplicably) wearing both makeup and clothes that had buttons and matched.

The longer I live, the more I come to understand why, in every culture, from the beginning of time, people demonstrate love with food.  Food for peace offerings. Food for “welcome!” Food for “thank you.” Food for grieving families. Food for new babies. Food for celebrations. Food for getting-to-know-you. Food for community, literal breaking of bread.

Good things happen around the table. This morning, I am so thankful for friends that give love with food. 

The Neti Pot

This is a story about the night I tried a Neti Pot for the first time.  

I have a cold, and I don't play with colds.

Earlier this week I stopped by Walgreens, stuck my arm out rigidly, and  marched down the cold & flu aisle, knocking one of everything into my basket, basically. I arrived at the counter with $37 worth of meds, and a Neti Pot.

Now, I have written before that I am not a Neti Pot user. Because KNOW THYSELF. Neti Pot zealots, save your breath. I understand why Neti Pots work. I believe in Neti Pots. I think that they are a wonderful concept. Great, in theory. Like kale. 

But desperate times call for Neti Pots, or something like that.

I got home, set the Neti Pot on the counter, and opened the instruction manual. The first thing of note was the SHOCKING LACK of direction included. I expected pages of warnings, red-lettered cautions, and medical diagrams of sinus cavities. 

Nada. It says, 

Tilt your head so that your right nostril is directly above your left nostril. Your forehead should be higher than your chin.

THAT'S IT.  Who signed off on this instructional booklet? What senior copywriter sat in a board room and shrugged his shoulders like, "Just tell 'em to pour the water up their noses? What could go wrong?

And apparently you can't use tap water to rinse your sinuses. Something about amoebas in the brain. I did not have distilled water, because I am a commoner, so I had to boil a pot. 

Then I had to cool the water back down to body temperature. There was nothing in the instructions about not pouring boiling water up your nose, BUT I FIGURED IT OUT. 

(If you ask me, the Neti-Pot people could learn a thing or two from the Pop-Tart people, whose boxes include detailed instructions on how to remove a Pop-Tart from its solar-blanket sleeve.) 

So there I stood: leaning over the kitchen sink, head cocked at a 90* angle, wishing I had a level with which to verify that my forehead was in fact higher than my chin. Then I had this moment. There was this moment when I thought, 

"Okay, I'm going to do it now.
No, now.
Now!
...

...

Okay, 1....2....3....
Now!
Wait, I need to collect myself."

It's like the moment after you've spread hot wax on your face and you're gripping the cloth strip, thinking, "Okay, I'm going to tear it off NOW...no, now...aaaannnyyy minute now."

Because there is a survival mechanism inside of you saying, "DO NOT RIP THAT STRIP FULL OF HOT WAX OFF OF YOUR FACE. IT WILL HURT."

In order to wax your face, you have to momentarily suppress your will to live. The same is true of Neti Pot use. 

There is something inside of you saying, "Do not pour that teapot full of water up your nose. That is a bad idea." 

I stood frozen for a few minutes, 29 years of swimming experience working against me. They were saying "Do the OPPOSITE OF THIS. Whatever happens, do NOT dump 8 oz. of water directly into your sinus cavity."

But as a woman who's done her share of waxing, I am adept at momentarily suppressing my will to live. 

I started breathing through my mouth, lifted the pot, and poured.

I am here to tell you that exactly one eternity passed between the moment the water entered my right nostril and the moment it started flowing out of my left. I was sure that water would soon be leaking out of my eye sockets, and that this was how it all ended for me. Slumped over the kitchen sink, Neti Pot in hand. 

But then it worked! I was pouring water into a hole in my face, and watching it flow out of a different hole in my face, and I thought, 

"THE HUMAN BODY IS A FREAKING ROCK STAR."

And that is the moral of this story.  That the human body is a freaking rock star, common colds and all.  

Yes Nights

Friday nights are my favorite, because Friday nights are yes-nights. 

One of my most deeply held parenting philosophies is to say "Yes" to every single thing I can. The number of times I shout "No!!!!" at my kids is in the hundreds of millions. I choose "Yes" so that their young lives aren't one big giant "No." 

Can you wear the cape to church? Yes.
Can you paint? Sure. Just whatever.

Weeknights, for us, are a marathon routine of dinner-bath-bed. There is no margin. During the week, the most loving thing I can do for my children is to make sure that their little bodies get enough sleep..

I love them by making sure they eat enough protein, so they don't get hangry and get disciplined for being poorly nourished.

I pack their lunches, I wash their clothes, I tuck them in. I say "No" a lot. That's how I love my kids during the week.

But Fridays.

Friday nights are YES-NIGHTS.

Can we color, Mommy? Yes.

Can we play Super Mario, Mommy? Yes.

Will you read us another book, Mommy? Yes.

Will you lay with me, Mommy? YES.

On Friday, there is no alarm clock waiting for us on the other end of the night. There are no lunches to pack. Bedtime is kind of ... eehhhhh. 

On weeknights, my love looks like boundaries to my children. It's the same love, but it looks like a bunch of rules. On weekends, my love delights them. 

I'm obsessed with Friday nights. Because on Friday nights, I get to go home and say "Yes."