“Every daughter needs to see how life can wrinkle you and this is what makes you beautiful….We are connected to one another—mothers who have quietly grown the bones of their daughters’ spine so she can walk honest and brave, mothers whose own blood runs like a river through their daughter, so she can live open, fluid and willing…..What kind of lives would our daughters live because they did life with us?”
Last weekend, we drove across the Mackinac bridge, windows down, happy songs blaring over Spotify.
On our way to our second annual camping vacation in the UP.
I’m not a camper! Never did it growing up and didn’t like it as a twenty-something.
So much dirt.
The ground’s a terrible mattress.
A bunch of junk food.
Besides, once I loaded up all those Rubbermaid bins down south, and carted them back up north for 13 summers switching it back again in August on the return trip to Texas, I felt like our little 2 bedroom apartment on a small college campus with the big hill and the apple orchard next door was camp-like enough.
But times change and I’ve learned some things..
Like how to scope out and secure a premium campsite on the DNR website thanks to my friend Lesley.
And a bunch of my camping veteran buddies, they’ve got the goods and are generous to share.
Then I discovered hiking. Sleeping Bear Dunes was my inaugural expedition and since then, I’ve climbed the wee hills of Scotland, the red rocks of Arizona, the Colorado Rockies, the Grand Canyon, the California coast, Algonquin Park in Canada and last weekend, Pictured Rocks.
We took a kind-of-hike at Tahquamenon Falls too.
I’ve been there before.
25 years ago, I carried my first little sweetheart on my hip. She was almost ready to take her first step. Now, look at her…
Since then, God’s written lots of other little people into my story. Big people too.
My wrinkles, they’re evidence I’ve put on the miles. While I’ve resisted their beauty, they prove that I’ve smiled wide, worried hard and cried all squinchy-faced. I guess I’ve lived and loved a pretty typical life.
My gig hasn’t been glamorous. There’s been a lot of peanut butter toast, after dinner dishes, bathroom cleaning, tidying up messes and read alouds.
Living open, fluid and willing, that’s part of the official “mom” job description.
The blood, sweat and tears, they’re mostly over this cluster of people that I’ve held in my arms and close to my heart.
I look at my tribe and see them walk brave in their stories.
I watch them try to step forward as honestly as they can on their journey of self-discovery.
I ask myself, what kind of lives will my kids, my husband, my tribe, my circle of influence live because God wrote me into their stories.
Honestly, on this birthday, I’m feeling pretty lost. I resonate with the melancholy ballad I hear playing softly on my Bluetooth speaker,
“Fast and slow we’re circling the sun,
And how do you know when you’re who you’ve been becoming?”
(Purple Horizons, Canyon City)
But this gift of life, the years, the experiences, the growth, it’s been bought and paid for, the price tag exponentially beyond my capacity to reimburse. The “debt-free” receipt serves as my compass to guide me through the forest when all I can see is trees.
So much feels uncertain on my expedition, but not this– That the mercies of God past, present and future are fresh and new every morning. Somehow, always enough.
And so, as I blow out the 9 candles on my Ryke’s cake, 5 for the tens and 4 for the ones,
I turn the page to chapter 54 resolved to journey well through its pages.
My compass is in hand. I’m travelling due north.