Can I hold her?

It’s only 1:42 as I start this and already, it’s been a mess of a day. One where all the diapers leak, all the customer service representatives are busy, and all the groceries spill, from a tiny rip in the bag down an entire flight of stairs, laughing all the way.

The end of a calendar year has baggage. So does the day after a long trip back home. Feelings happen. And the proper thing to do is to stay inside, drink tea, write love letters, talk quietly…Whatever it is your sweet self needs to transition from waffles to yogurt and sleepy mornings to early alarms, you take the time and do it.

I cannot work out a situation where this personal TLC regimen involves bringing a sick one year old to the grocery store on New Year’s Eve and yet there I was this morning, circling between organic granola and frozen pizza with Zo who had given up on the world five aisles back. Between myself and the little one our situation was sinking fast. Then, as usually happens at least once while I’m at Wegmans, a member of the church appeared. “Can I hold her while you push the cart?” In the moment I was embarrassed, exhausted, just wanting Zo to stop whining.

The feelings didn’t fade. Miraculously, we got out of the store and back into the car where I took my turn to whine until Zo fell asleep. We made it home where I did a bazillion things while huffing and puffing and rolling my eyes (so that the universe and God knew just how much effort I was putting in) and finally, two hours later I decided it was time to nap because sleep is necessary when it starts to feel like the walls, floor, and ceiling are actually closing in on each other.

When I put my head down I remembered Carla asking to hold Zoey in the store. Surprisingly, I thought of this without feeling ashamed, like I clearly just didn’t have it together enough to control my child’s emotions or my hair for that matter. Instead I felt so full of something good (gratitude ninja…) And I started thinking about all of the people at Ashland who take Zoey in their arms when she runs away while I’m trying to unjam the copier, when she flies down the aisle during the sermon, or just when they see that my arms are full with something else.

I know very little about being the best mother in the world but I believe that to be an OK person you need to possess a holding space for others and in order for us to do this we need people who come along and hold things for us. Not because we’re a wreck and our hair is offensive and we obviously can’t do this for ourselves, but because these people love us and none of us are meant to do this on our own. That’s it. Maybe even more necessary than boundaries and systems is radical care.

To everyone at Ashland, our dear crazy families, my sweet new-mom pals who have not called CPS on me, my loves who talk me back down off the walls, anyone who has knit, drawn, called, painted, renewed library books, cooked for us “just because”: The gratefulness I have for your holding us through this year, and letting us practice being held, is endless. You are some of the greatest gifts (ever.)

May you have a New Year’s Eve that gives you what you need most and may these gifts grow for you as we enter a new season.

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