Everett's "Mad Face"
Everett's "Mad Face"

I was angry that night. Angry and a little frightened, perhaps. Here we were, settling into this new place – Dave was settling in to his job routine, and Everett and I were figuring out what to do with ourselves each day. Many days, we walked to the bike trail. I started running again, just a little bit, and he liked running along the trail and watching the ducks on the canal, especially when we stopped at the bridge on the way back to throw rocks and sticks into the water. We tried all of the local library story times, but the best of them was a little too far away to make a regular event. We went to the farmer’s market twice a week, our favorite part of the weekly rhythm. Everett, who rarely touches vegetables, ate cherry tomatoes and whole carrots. He nibbled the tips off of all of my bell peppers.

We settled into a routine of sorts, but it was lonely. Nowhere we went did we find people we got to know. We had occasional play dates or park meet ups with other moms, and were slowly finding friends, but I found myself longing for the people I used to see every day – for Amber and Archer and our housemates and the HomeState employees, my “coworkers” in LA.

So why was I angry? I had lost my sense of self, my sense of purpose. I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing, other than being a wife and mother. I wasn’t writing, wasn’t yet involved in Open Door much myself, didn’t have soul-rooting, affirming friendships. Then Dave called after a long day at work to ask if he could go to a dessert with some people he wanted to get to know from Open Door, and of course I said yes, and I was furious. What do you mean, go to dessert? Here I am, no friends, no co-laborers, no identity outside of motherhood, and you’re going out to DESSERT? Why can’t I go to dessert? I’m the lonely one, the one longing for purpose and relationships and a sense of community. Of course you can go, but I am going to be mad about it.

I put Everett to bed, and then I fumed. I wasn’t angry about dessert, I was angry about being here. I knew we were in the right place, it was a choice we made together following a clearer call than I could ever expect, but that didn’t mean I had to be happy about it.

As I finished cleaning up the kitchen from dinner (a task usually completed by my wonderful husband), I found myself wishing for someone to talk to. I knew I could call Jessica or Stephanie, and I would, later, but right now I wanted someone in person to tell me what to do. And suddenly, the thought occurred to me: If I came to myself for advice about this, what would I tell myself?

I thought about that for a few minutes. Grieve, I would say. Let yourself be angry. Don’t try too hard to analyze all of the emotions – watch thoughtfully as their causes unfold. Create. Run. Have a whole lot of grace for yourself.

Be angry. That’s not something I’m very good at. Anger feels violent, uncomfortable. As a mother of a two-year-old, I deal with a small person’s big anger on a daily basis. What did I tell Everett to do when he was angry? Go kick a ball.

It sounded silly, even in the moment, but like my tiny raging son when he didn’t get his way, I had to get these feelings out somehow. So I went outside to the yard in the crepuscular light, and I found the enormous ball a new friend had just brought us and I kicked it as hard as I could.

Because it was an enormous ball that weighed next to nothing, it wasn’t very satisfying, so I kicked it again. And again. And again. Around and around the yard we went, that big speckled ball and I, and I kicked it with every ounce of rage and disappointment I had within me. Why are we here? Thwack! Who am I in this place? Thwack! Where is my sense of purpose, my sense of self so hard-won? Thwack! Round and round we went, until the ball sailed high and I looked up and saw the perfect moon, sailing high in the lavender dusk. I fell to my knees on the grass and I cried and cried and cried, whole body shaking, letting the grass tickle the backs of my cupped hands as tears ran between my fingers. The evening breeze picked up, caressing my hair, joining the moon in the song that said, [I am here with you. Everywhere you go, here I am. I see you, and you are not alone.]

I cried my tears beneath the moon. Then I did a little bit of yoga in the grass, stretching my body, remembering my limbs.

I went inside and made myself a cup of tea.

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