Tomato Dreams & Imperfection

One day, I sit in my yard and whisper a prayer, half heartedly and without direction. It’s just me and the tomatoes out there, green from a mid summer cold spell, and struggling to grow through the windy tangle of morning glory weeds.

I think I’m ready for something outside of my kids, I say. What could that be?

I move on, step inside to make dinner, and for once instead of spinning my wish around in my head I let it rest. Meanwhile there is plenty of work right in front of me. The endless chopping of vegetables in hopes they will reach the little tummies they’re meant for, the sitting on the floor, watching toy trains.

Days later I duck into the bathroom and sit on the cold tile and start typing words on my iphone. When I finish, my thumbs are cramped and my husband is calling for me. An hour has passed without notice.

My three year old pauses his dinner spoon in mid air, bursting with his own story of how he has been looking and looking for me. To him, when I’m in the bathroom with the door shut, I may as well be dancing on Venus. I’m that unreachable. I rumple his hair and then swoop in to scoop up the baby just as she tries for the millionth time to eat fuzz balls from our furry rug for dinner. Note to self: buy a vacuum.

I wrote something about us, I say to my husband who is busy with the last little dinner tasks (potholders, napkins, one ice cube or two).

Once the kids are tucked in bed and the baby monitor buzz buzzes fuzzy white noise from the bedroom, I sweep the kitchen and he reads what I wrote.  You have to post this, he says when he’s done. It’s for everyone, not just me and you.

Feeling brave and tired, I go ahead and post it.  Mentally, I calculate my vulnerability level, thinking that my post might be read by forty of my friends with time on their hands. Then I watch stunned, for days and days, as my words keep spreading over the internet.

People comment about their own experiences with love and I read each comment like a gift: words about long and faithful marriages, about short and regretful ones, about time wasted, loved ones lost, running away, hoping to meet the right one. Each one blesses me in it’s honesty.

I tumble for awhile in the self doubt that inevitably follows huge doses of praise. Some people become regular followers of my blog and I panic, realizing that means they’re expecting me to write words again someday. Preferably words that don’t suck. I think of my readers and ask the same, age old new relationship question: now that I’ve got you here, what will make you stay?

I’m terrified they’ll realize that I never learned how to use punctuation properly, that I’m really just another mom blogger, that I don’t know what to write about next and don’t know how to find the time.

But day after day as the numbers climb, I’m brought back down to earth. People begin stopping me in town to share their own vulnerable places. They say: you’re not alone, or, thank you, I thought I was the only one.

My kids aren’t impressed with my stats and still need me to stay present in the moment. I walk in the grass, I turn off my phone. I turn it on again just for a little peek. I change a few diapers. I whisper the number of page views to a few close friends and we laugh. I write to a successful blogger friend and she talks me down a little bit, commiserating about how wonderful and terrifying it all is.

Eventually something shifts in me. I remember why I love writing so much and I feel the spark in my heart that means I’ve really hit on something.

Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams,”  and I suppose that’s really great advice, him being Thoreau and all.  I’m almost positive I had that hanging in my locker in middle school because it’s so inspiring.

And sometimes you can take a good hard look at your dreams and go confidently in their direction. Sometimes you have to! Other times (like me, barefoot and praying in the garden) you’ve lost your sense of direction, you don’t have a map, and you’ve forgotten how to dream in the first place.  At that point you better hold on tight, because your dreams might start chasing after you instead.

What I’ve learned this summer is that you can wait all your life trying to get things right, or find something that seems worthy enough to show the world. In the end, it’s your struggles and imperfections that are the real story you need to tell. When brought into the light, they are transformed.

You realize that in the midst of your daily living, being lost and found a million times, losing your breath and catching it again, you have already turned into something beautiful. The only thing left to do is keep hitting publish.


11 thoughts on “Tomato Dreams & Imperfection

  1. I’m really enjoying your posts. And gosh, no pressure to produce at all, and who cares about proper punctuation. We all know what you are trying to say. Your writing comes from the heart. I know I enjoy it because I can completely identify with the feeling of contemplating life outside of motherhood…my kids are a bit older than yours now though. But I’m still an at home mom, wondering about how to stay connected to my growing children while nurturing my own passions.

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  2. I have definately been inspired by your writing. I too have struggled with fear. I cannot quite pinpoint exactly what fear it is. Is it fear of failure or success? Is it fear of letting people down or of the talents I think I have not measuring up? Whatever IT is I do know that you have a gift for writing so please do not stop.

  3. I’ve started typing a note/comment to you a few times and just couldn’t hit submit. I just don’t know how to express what I wanted to say. Ever since I had my son (now almost three years old) I’ve felt like I’ve known what it is like to be in love. Truly, madly, deeply and very vulnerably (not sure if that is a word, but you get the point) in love. It is the most intense feeling and overwhelming responsibility–loving, caring for and shaping (and also making sure we do not do too much shaping) of these beautiful little people. I’ve thought many times how I need to write him and his little brother letters and tuck them away somewhere. Because, God forbid, if anything ever happens to me–they HAVE to know how much I love them. Although I’m not sure they could ever comprehend the depths of my love for them. The word love doesn’t even do justice.
    But don’t think I sit here mooning over my kids all day. No, in fact, just this morning my feisty little guy decided to kick me in the face (sounds worse than it was–my face was at kicking level since I was putting him in his car seat–or maybe I’m just defending his bad behavior…who knows)–and I went…well…ape-shit (for lack of a better phrase) on him. I smacked his leg and yelled at him, really yelled at him, and made him cry and still gave him angry looks (real mature, I know…) throughout the car ride despite his “I’m sowwy mommy” through tears and hiccups. My son brings out the most extreme emotions in me–the most painfully intense love and the most out-of-control frustration. I’m a pretty in-control person and never would have thought I’d let an almost-three-year-old so easily tip me out of control. He drives me crazy all day but then as soon as he’s in bed I’m watching videos of him on my phone and wishing he was awake. I wish he would be better behaved and listen to me, and at the same time I DON’T want him to outgrow this beautiful stage where he is so inquisitive, sweet and yet constantly testing and exploring boundaries.
    I love your writing and your blog because in the past almost 3 years I’ve entered a world of motherhood and while I have a wonderful, full life, surrounded by family and a great husband–all helping me raise our boys–until I read your posts I didn’t feel like anyone understood what I was feeling. And I can’t really express it. But in simple posts about your day-to-day life, letters to your child, or very difficult posts about marriage and the inevitable ups, downs, challenges and successes–you have expressed what I’m feeling and it just feels good to know that someone else gets it, is also living it, and while things can be tough, is also loving it. When I saw your post on Facebook about how to tackle this turning point in your life I wanted to call you and tell you: Don’t feel pressure! Don’t worry about letting us down. If anyone gets it, we get it.

  4. Thank you so much for this…and for that post about marriage. Vulnerability, imperfection, hope and unexpected magical moments–they are all part of this precious life. TW


  5. A beautiful post. I discovered your blog through A Cup of Jo and am in awe of the raw honesty found here. In a world where it seems bloggers are competing for page views and ad sales, you’ve found a way into the soul of a few ordinary people. Thank you!

  6. When I think of my own need for perfectionism, my need to have everything figured out before it get started, I try to tell myself that I’m “just practicing.” Leah, you’re already a writer, I think you just need to practice being a blogger.

  7. No pressure from here . . . honest! I’m a little older than you and certainly no wiser and when I read your posts (yes, I devoured all of them one evening last week 🙂 I felt like you have seen inside my heart and soul and helped me to understand much more than I ever thought I could. Thank you for writing one word at a time . . . and hitting publish!

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