Stories of Dark and Light: Hooking up with Night Driving Synchroblog

night drivingIt was dark the spring of my sophomore year of college, even though daylight savings time had bartered sleep for sun and the streetlights of Christian community artificially lit the campus where I lived all night long.

That year, dark did a strange thing to me.

Time stopped.

I mean this in the truest sense. In my world, time stopped passing normally. My anxiety was one of reverse chronophobia – instead of hours passing too quickly, they became painfully slow. Days seemed to widen and spread like the mold on the last few pieces of cheap bread I had in the kitchen cupboard. Hours that were not spoken for by class became a gaping chasm where I laid in my bed, pretending to read with my face to the wall.

The clock became an obsession. Twenty minutes in the shower. Ten minutes to get ready. Five minutes to eat breakfast. Seven minutes to walk to class. Class. Class. Then Break. A dreaded break. Where would I go? What would I do?  I’d plot where I’d walk, how long it would take me, and how to avoid eye-contact. Each move had to be calculated, or the wheels of my strange anxiety would hit pavement and I’d speed onto a highway of full-blown panic.

No one knew.

It was too hard to explain, and I didn’t really get it either. I didn’t know about triggers, and how easy it was to fall under the dark spell of depression. Meanwhile, the rest of my world was busy moving forward – something my anxiety with the clock prevented me from doing.  Other classmates excelled. Friends made new friends. A boy from another school that I’d had a deep friendship with told me he saw us always, and only, being friends.

I spent hours in my bed, clutching my bible like some sort of holy talisman. Sometimes I read it. Sometimes I just held the green canvas cover to my chest and mumbled intelligible prayers about wanting to wake up three hours later,  feeling normal.

And there, on the bottom bunk, staring at the brown metal springs of my roommate’s bed above, God did something strange. He held me. Quietly. Solidly. He pointed me deep into the Psalms, where I found David, a writer who seemed to understand how I felt in the pit and tangle of my fear.

I read. I read and I slept. My dip into depression was not deep, lasting about three months, though they were literally the longest months of my life.

Alone in my room, I read until I knew enough about God to believe what He told the writer of an Old Testament book called Ecclesiastes – that there was a time for everything and that somehow, time was not the enemy I made him out to be.

That spring, I also took a poetry class. I didn’t know anything about contemporary poetry, but I fell headlong into a world of metaphor and simile that threw me another means of rescue. My professor Judy encouraged me to submit my work to the campus literary journal, and my first published poem buoyed me to keep pushing into my darkness, prying into what it meant, and why it was happening.

I tell you this because I believe everyone has a story about dark and light. These are stories that deserve honor and space in our worlds for what they can reveal, and the ropes they can throw us.

Addie Zierman’s Night Driving is one of those stories. It catches you whole, packing you along with her carefully labeled totes and snacks and two small boys, and drives you down the interstate in a frenzy of giddy, winter escape. It makes you laugh with along with her wit and wisdom about gas station coffee and hotel pools, and think deeply about faith and the places you run from.

Night Driving is a perfect spring read, a realization that even a seasonal escape cannot bypass the reality that faith, like all living things, must endure the necessary dark and barren stretches in order to once again show green signs of life.

ANDDDDDDD… it releases today, which means you can buy it NOW at places like Barnes and Noble or IndieBound or Amazon.

Go ahead. Get one. You can thank me later.

 

 

 

 

Twin Toddlerhood – The 18 Month Chronicles


I thought that life with two toddlers (and a preschooler) was, quite possibly, going to be a nightmare.

There. I said it.

I love my girls – don’t misunderstand me there. I was just scared out of my mind to have them actually move. They were so lovely and contained in their bouncy seats, their swings. I could always see their hands.

IMG_6456Fear had me imagining how one would be splashing in the sink, and the other would be heading for the basement stairs. Or one would be noshing in the flour tub, and the other would be climbing into the dryer. Or maybe they’d both make a pact to destroy the only houseplant I’ve kept alive for over a decade.

Perhaps that’s a fear of every mother with multiple children. A mama can only be in one place at one time. But children don’t abide by those rules. Toddlers run all over like the butter you were only supposed to soften in the microwave. Preschoolers slather themselves, and the surrounding walls, in vaseline because they have an owie. On their toe.

Meanwhile, in the middle of me trying to figure out how to quit being afraid of calling my girls toddlers, Gabby got off her knees and balanced on her heels, arms held wide. She was slow and methodical, and immensely pleased with herself. Lucy joined her after a month, and immediately, life changed. Thankfully, it changed in a very good way.

Here at 18 months and fully mobile, the girls are happier. More self-directed. (My three and half year old included.) They are less apt to scream for things they can’t reach, whine for something across the room, or cry because they need a change of scenery.

IMG_20150112_105823_308 (1)

No way, sister. No way.

Along with the physical steps, they’ve started making verbal strides as well. Words are still sparse, but every day I hear them say something new. I also now catch them singing, talking on the phone (any object with buttons), and jabbering to their stuffed animals. They’ve also mastered the art of yes and no. Specifically no.

But by far the best thing I’ve noticed this month is their level of affection toward one another. I’m friends with a lovely group of twin mamas on Facebook and Instagram, and I’d always feel a twinge of jealousy when I saw their twins hugging one another, kissing each other, or sleeping side by side.

kiss

                Love.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I noticed something new. Lucy rested her head on Gabby’s shoulder in the shopping cart. It was the first time I’d seen them intentionally take comfort from one another.

Since then, I’ve seen all three of my girls venture into the territory of sisterly affection. I caught Ellis holding Lucy in our old blue rocking chair, singing you are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Gabby has started giving kisses on demand. Lucy is always game to snuggle with any of her sisters that are sitting down.

It’s nothing short of amazing to me. All of it. The walking. The attempts at talking. The affection.

In all my fearful wonderings about how it was going to work managing two toddlers and a preschooler, I made a big mistake. I didn’t temper my fear with any IMG_7305 (1024x749)daydreams of how awesome it was going to be to see my girls grow.  (Or in today’s case, how interesting it would be to type with a baby sitting on the desk in front of me, randomly poking at the keys.)

That sounds so rote. I know. Don’t worry about the scary stuff!! Think about the good stuff!! Smiley face!! Hearts!!

But please. Promise me something. Promise me you’ll try envisioning your children growing up. Not because I said so. Not because you need another piece of advice to pin, or something  to write on your chalkboard, or another link to store in your phone. Try it because if you’re anything like me, it’s simply too easy to lose sight of the big picture.

We are raising our children to be people.

Imagine your daughter sitting at the piano. Your son designing his first science project. Your teenagers sitting down at the table for pizza night. Think about the first time your child tells you they’re in love.

Fear doesn’t deserve as much space as we give it in this life- motherhood or otherwise. But growth?

Growth deserves all the energy we can give it.

Multiple Birth Awareness Month: My Confession

9 mo

Hear that? Mama thought we were scary. (G, L)

I used to be afraid of having twins.

It started at nine weeks when the ultrasound technician revealed the amazing truth that I was harboring two heartbeats. I was afraid of not being able to carry them to term. I was afraid of birthing them. I was afraid of how I was going to divide my time between them and my two-year old daughter. I was afraid I’d always be letting someone down.

I was afraid having twins meant I wasn’t going to be a good mother.

Two days after we came home from a thankfully uncomplicated birth, I got my first taste of the chaos I feared. It was breakfast time – my toddler in her booster seat, the babies in their rockers on the floor. My spoon was in my first bite of oatmeal when it happened.

All three girls started crying at once.

Ellis was done eating and wanted out of her chair. Gabrielle had her fist in her mouth and wanted to eat. Lucia was working on some business in the lower realms, her face turned red and squinchy. All of them were screaming.

I didn’t know where to start, still unfamiliar with the triage that multiples require.

That morning I did it all wrong, attempting to breastfeed a newborn, change a diaper with my free hand, and reason with my toddler that I’d be done in a second. It was a massive fail. My husband came in to find us all tear-blotched and upset.

People often ask if it’s much harder caring for twins. My answer? It’s not harder. (Changing a diaper isn’t intrinsically hard.) It just takes longer. 

Diapers. Baths. Clothes. Car seat buckling. Meal time. Crying. Everything takes twice as long.

Add this to the fact that babies in and of themselves are time-consuming creatures. They require slow and careful movements. They long to be held. To stare into our eyes. To form connections and bonds, brain synapses firing like lightning bugs on warm July nights.

april 042 (533x800)Funny thing is, toddlers need the same thing. So do spouses. Just all in a different way. And once I realized this, somehow, my fear of adding two tiny people to our family got a little smaller.

No matter how many of us were in the house, ultimately, we all just needed to be loved. And love was not a limited quantity item that went out of stock in my pantry. Love was the one thing I could always find, even when everything else was short on supply.

Not that it always looks like love within these walls. Everyone still cries. We all get frustrated with one another and the need to take turns. But as a mother of multiples, I’ve learned how to triage effectively. I’m not defeated when everyone needs something all at once.

I’ve learned that helping one daughter first allows the other two to understand the fine art of patience (well, someday.) I’ve seen how sharing, even in its early stages, will become one of the most important life skills my girls can master. I’ve even earned a spot in my own equation, advocating for myself and taking care of my own needs as well so I can better take care of everyone else.

I’ve found love to be an ever-renewable resource, wide enough for all of us, a perfect force for driving out fear.

 

april 022 (800x549)Written in honor of Multiple Birth Awareness Month for my 9 month old twins Gabrielle & Lucia, and my ever precocious toddler Ellis Olivia. For more great thoughts (and adorable pictures) on raising multiples, go check out  today’s link up at Twin Talk Blog.