The woman stands in my dining room, swinging the baby cradled in her arms back and forth. Cooing at his chubby, round face, she begins to reminisce. She was too young when she had her first, she tells me—just out of high school.
She's a grandma now. Her eyes glaze over, though, as she describes the terror of telling her parents all those years ago. Run away. Change names. She would have done anything not to have to face them with the news.
Please join me to welcome Meredith Mills to the Gritty Pearl this week. Meredith has a way with words. With a gentle beckon out of the rush, and into the beauty of mindful parenthood moments, she'll bring you home.
Also, writers, don't forget to share your favorite work at the #GritUP Collective, at the bottom of the page. Welcome!
2012. I'm tucked in the corner of a sweaty gym. It's Zumba day and I like to sneak in for the last twenty minutes of class to loosen up after lifting. I hope to disappear into the multicolored lights that stream from the ceiling, to dance without anybody noticing my awkwardness.
My friend in the front row doesn't share my sentiment. She sways back and forth to the music, not a care, and showing no interest as to whether or not anybody's watching. The moment is hers. She's free. Not one second of her seventy years is a match for the energy that pours out of her. I catch myself staring and forget my own steps. Smiling, I decide right then that I want to be just like her "when I grow up".
It's Sunday afternoon. 4pm. This picture depicts the current cause of anxiety in my household. Now a direct hit to Naples, my husband and I have family there. They chose not to evacuate before Hurricane Irma made its way across the Florida Straight.
“Have you talked to your parents?” I ask for probably the fifth time. “Nope, not yet. Seriously, Meg, you need to wait for them to call us,” he replies (also for the fifth time). Noticing my frustrated expression, he adds, “I’m sure your Dad’s fine too.”
Over the past week, we’ve gone back and forth with each of our parents over their plans to deal with the impending storm. Our get-out-of-town propaganda was promptly ignored, as we were outvoted. Every cell in the body wants to scream, “Do what I want you to do!” But at some point, the heart surrenders...
"Somedays she has no idea how she'll do it. But every single day, it still gets done." Unknown
“The world feels lonely right now,” she says to me plainly. There aren’t any tears but she slouches, body casually sprawled over the armchair. I can tell by the way she shrugs that she doesn’t expect me to answer, it’s just that she needs somebody to witness the state of her life.
Witness. As in, “Will you vouch for the fact that I’m still breathing? Because I feel invisible…”
My beautiful friend—talented and kind, gainfully employed, volunteer extraordinaire—lonely. If it can happen to her, it can happen to anybody…
We say the wrong thing and stutter.
We say the right thing, but it’s not well received.
We get stuck without a response and freeze.
Our intentions are misunderstood.
And then it happens. Defensiveness moves in like a crouching tiger, ready for the kill.
It's August already. How did that happen? Time flies as the beach beckons, complete with an oversized umbrella and a glass of sweet tea. Many of us have been on the wedding circuit these past few months. Rather than traveling the Tour de Nuptiale, perhaps you've celebrated an anniversary recently. Summertime brings more than its share of opportunities to examine our own relationships as we lend our support to others'.
Want more faith and encouragement in your day? Be sure to check out all the great writers gathering for the #GritUpAndGo Writer Share directly following this post!
“We never say the ‘D’ word in our house,” the older woman informs me with pride. “We both know it’s not an option so we make it work. We’ve been married over thirty years now.”
As I listen, I’m obviously happy for her. I also wonder if she and her husband are “good fighters.” Does one partner always get his or her way? Does the other concede and stay secretly resentful? My therapist mind kicks into action, but I decide it’s none of my business to ask…maybe another time.
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.