Love breaks through

This winter has been pretty bleak, so far.

It’s the usual stuff as well as some genuinely difficult circumstances—most staunchly filed under Matters Largely UnbloggableTM—and while the bottom line is that we are all fine, I respectfully submit that T.S. Eliot got it all wrong. April is not the cruelest month, January is. Hands down.

One of the things I’m discovering, finally, after coming-up-on-two-years worth of remarriage, is that blending a family is not a linear process. It’s more like the Electric Slide gone haywire, with steps forward and back and then—surprise!—sideways at an unpredictable pace. If you’re not in tip-top shape it will sap you of your energy and your belief in a happy ending, sometimes. And when things are difficult and everyone’s got a cough that just won’t go away, nobody feels much like dancing.

So. January. Not my favorite month.

It seems like over the last few weeks we’ve either been squabbling or going to bed at 9:00 (oh, Nyquil, how I love your unconscious embrace) or just… trying to stay afloat. When Otto and I have managed the time to sit down and really talk, it’s been about bills or cars or the kids. Mostly.

And then we had one of those fights. You know the kind—the sort where you’re so angry that you can’t see, the sort that scares you into sleeplessness, the worst case scenarios spinning out in your imagination, unbidden.

As much as I hate those sorts of come-to-Jesus relationship flare-ups, there’s nothing quite like the clarity that comes in the following reconciliation, when you both remember how to communicate and what you really need to say to each other. It’s a painful way to get back to what matters, but it’s effective.

This week I’ve been wracked with doubt about what I’m doing and where I’m going, and Otto has quietly maneuvered around my sharp edges and cleared a path a few steps ahead of my flailing. I greeted him this morning with an aggravated recounting of one child’s obnoxiousness and my indignation therein, and he nodded and listened and steered clear of the storm until it blew over. Before he took the kids to school he finished slicing the vegetables he’d started working on last night, and threw his creation into the crock pot and turned it on. “Dinner’s cooking!” he announced, before heading out the door with his customary kiss and “I love you.”

As I crossed back through the kitchen on my way to begin working in the now-quiet house, I caught a glimpse of color through the window. Further investigation revealed that some tree on the outside of the back fence had erupted in red—who knows how long ago, even—and the branches were now splaying out into a fiery crown above and even poking through the slats below and demanding to be noticed.

Sometimes I get so mired in everything else, I’m not very observant about what’s right in front of me. And sometimes it’s as easy to see as a profusion of foliage towering above, and sometimes it’s more like that one branch working its way in, further down.

(Dear Otto: I noticed. I notice. Thank you.)

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. I hope today you notice what you’ve been overlooking.

38 Responses to “Love breaks through”

  1. 1
    Ani January 29, 2009 at 11:23 am #

    A long-distance hug and a wish for a more peaceful day

  2. 2
    The Other Leanne January 29, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    There is something to be said for being fully present, for not worrying about the future or regretting the past, but simply to be here, now, taking in this moment with all its hidden colors.

  3. 3
    Kelly January 29, 2009 at 11:29 am #

    Okay got tears…

  4. 4
    jennielynn January 29, 2009 at 11:34 am #

    Saying prayers for you and me both, because Lord knows, I’m there as well.

  5. 5
    Kelly2 January 29, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    Can Otto give lessons on family combining? We have been trying to go through it here and it has not been pretty for anyone involved.

  6. 6
    Lylah January 29, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    I know what you mean about the clarity. Hoping that February brings better, calmer, happier days!

  7. 7
    Megan January 29, 2009 at 11:59 am #

    Those unbloggable ones are the worst – don’t realize how much clarity you can achieve by writing something out as a story (okay, creative non-fiction) since to make it work narratively you have to step back a little, recognize where the exaggeration is coming in (and when it works or not), see where the characters are touched up. I find particularly that when I blog something (or think about doing so) I have to become Author rather than just participant and being Author means understanding ALL the characters at least a little bit. I thought I was doing pretty well, unbloggable-wise (would have LOVED to do a post on the battle I had recently with a Child UnNamed over a poem by John Updike – I mean, how often does that happen?) but then this week the unbloggables hit in the worst way and I’m suffering from internal seething and angst… now I see I need to make sure I’m not seething all over the family!

    I hope your UnBloggable January does get its knots and tangles sorted out, at least long enough for a few deep breaths until the next one comes along.

  8. 8
    tammy January 29, 2009 at 12:04 pm #

    That’s a nandina. (In case you care.) One of the few things that makes January a little less bleak around these parts.

  9. 9
    StephLove January 29, 2009 at 12:15 pm #

    We had that cough. It lasted for all of November and most of December. I’m still not completely over the ear infection that came with it. I hope your recovery is swifter.

    Does it drive you crazy when you want to blog about something and you just can’t? I ran into this situation recently for the first time in almost two years of blogging and I didn’t handle it very well. I didn’t post the objectionable material but I wrote it and then showed it to the person I thought might object to see if she’d mind if I posted it, and then she got mad I’d shown it to her and I didn’t get to post it either. Kind of a lose/lose situation, though I suppose she would have been madder if I’d posted it.

    Good luck getting through the rest of January. Only two and a half more days!

  10. 10
    Molly January 29, 2009 at 12:24 pm #

    Thank you for the reminder. Refocusing attention on the good is the only way I can get through the winter. I love the cozy, but I’m getting stir-crazy. I envy you your red – and green! We’re still under three feet of snow and likely to be for two more months. Gah.

  11. 11
    TheresaG January 29, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    The good news is, January is about to bite the dust. Granted, February isn’t the greatest month either.

    When I was a kid and teen and heck, college student too, I never once thought that adults would suddenly come full stop and wonder, is this really the direction I should be going? Where do I want to go? How do I want to get there, with whom?
    As an adult I regularly take stock of my direction and purpose. The with whom part I’ve got figured.

  12. 12
    mike golch January 29, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    food for thought.

  13. 13
    Keyona January 29, 2009 at 1:28 pm #

    Isn’t it amazing how we can sometimes overlook what’s right in our faces. I loved the story.

  14. 14
    Shannon January 29, 2009 at 1:29 pm #

    ((hugs)) to you. In case you are wondering, it looks like a nandina to me (also known as heavenly bamboo).

  15. 15
    exile on mom street January 29, 2009 at 1:30 pm #

    I posted a couple of days ago about trying to cut through all of the static in my head and in my heart to tune in to what matters and the path that I’m supposed to be on.

    I also had a fight with the husband complete with the hurling of a dishtowel (or 2) and a call for Chinese food ’cause potstickers can fix almost anything.

    Thank goodness it’s nearly February.

  16. 16
    Chris January 29, 2009 at 1:32 pm #

    Who would have ever thought a life lesson could come from nandina of all plants? Good on you for “listening” to it. Peace be with you.

  17. 17
    Katie January 29, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

    I hate the “unbloggables”, going through a lot of them myself. Personally I’m looking foward to April.

  18. 18
    Crisanne January 29, 2009 at 1:42 pm #

    “As much as I hate those sorts of come-to-Jesus relationship flare-ups, there’s nothing quite like the clarity that comes in the following reconciliation, when you both remember how to communicate and what you really need to say to each other. It’s a painful way to get back to what matters, but it’s effective.”

    You know, those kind of arguments really do suck. But you’re right about the clarity that follows. The trick is to not fall back into the trap that started it all. Some months I feel like all we do is see-saw between the really bad and the really good, never stopping to balance in the middle.

    I do have one question. And it is a genuine question based on some things you’ve mentioned before…I’ve noticed Jeff and I tend to have more flare-ups in the week before I start my period when I’m not on the pill. You’ve talked about difficulty with dosing of your hormone meds…have you had you hormone levels checked recently? It’s not an excuse to be bitchy, but I definitely feel hormones play a huge part in how I we, as women, deal with the rest of the world.

    I’m saying some prayers for you and your family-to weather this storm stronger than you began it!

  19. 19
    Flea January 29, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    January’s nearly over, Mir. February is certainly a love month. And I do the same thing, being unobservant forever then seeing what’s right in front of me. Otto’s a good man. You’re a good mom. Live in it. Kids are difficult, blended family or no. You’re doing a great job.

  20. 20
    All Adither January 29, 2009 at 2:43 pm #

    Oh, that’s nice. And I’m moving to Georgia. We’re all frosty gray here.

  21. 21
    Angela Klocke January 29, 2009 at 3:13 pm #

    Indeed…

    Beautiful, as always.

  22. 22
    Ann from Minnesota January 29, 2009 at 3:45 pm #

    I am hoping that things go better now. I had to look twice at your photo – assuming that everyone in “my world” is living like me – in the cold and gray. In fact, this morning was the first one in all of January that it was not below zero. I am loading photos of my garden in all its summer glory to my desktop, just to help with these January blahs… Thinking good thoughts for you all!

  23. 23
    Katie in MA January 29, 2009 at 4:17 pm #

    I just watched The Color Purple, one of my all-time faves, and I love Shug’s line at the end. (Paraphrasing): Everything wants to be noticed. And loved.

    I hope someone notices you and loves you today. Sounds like you could use a hug or two.

  24. 24
    Heather January 29, 2009 at 5:37 pm #

    You’ll be ok, Mir. You’re both (and all four) pretty rad people. I feel like January is just a month full of Mondays…thankfully it’ll be over soon!

  25. 25
    Daisy January 29, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    Hugs to you and yours. January is cruel, indeed. Good thing there are a few Thursdays in it to keep us crazy bloggers focused!

  26. 26
    Kissedaprincegotafrog January 29, 2009 at 6:05 pm #

    Combining families is not easy (I’ve done two, the second one took ten years to really pan out) but you should remember two things : 1)it comes together over time (two steps forward, one step back) and 2) uncombined families are different but not necessarily easier.

    Sounds like you and Otto have everything you need to make it work.

  27. 27
    Kristi January 29, 2009 at 6:36 pm #

    And that is love…..

  28. 28
    ChristieNY January 29, 2009 at 8:25 pm #

    Thank you for the reminder. ::: hugs :::

  29. 29
    hollygee January 29, 2009 at 10:06 pm #

    On The Lipstick Chronicles this morning, Nancy Martin writes about their first fight thirty odd years ago and the backbloggers weigh in on those old fights and present ones. Ah, relationships.

  30. 30
    Mom101 January 29, 2009 at 10:11 pm #

    And so it seems that really, January isn’t all that horrible after all.

    In any case it’s over this week. Wishing you a better next month. Or at least a shorter one. Ha.

  31. 31
    Headless Mom January 30, 2009 at 12:50 am #

    Those Largely Unbloggable Things can get us down. You’ve got Otto and 2 great kids to pull you back up!

  32. 32
    Lady M January 30, 2009 at 1:16 am #

    “Force” hugs to you. No, they don’t mean hugs that you’re forced to take. They’re hugs for when we can’t reach each other and have to use the Force. Yes, Star Wars has permeated every single thing in my life.

  33. 33
    Brigitte January 30, 2009 at 5:51 am #

    Well, we can force her to take hugs anyway! I do it to my kid all the time.

    Hugs to the whole family.

  34. 34
    Anisha January 30, 2009 at 9:49 am #

    Thanks for sharing that with us. I know…some days are especially difficult, and when you’re fighting with your S.O. it seems unbearable. I hope you’re feeling a little better today.

  35. 35
    margie January 30, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    oh dear, A. and i have been doing this for almost five years now. four of mine, two of his, two foster kids of mine, a daughter in law and two baby grandsons. of the kids the youngest 19 and oldest 30. it does get easier. we also knew each other from when we were young, had a thirty year hiatus and then got together. so easy to forget why, where we were before we got together. i get you. take a hard hard look at whence you came.

  36. 36
    Diane January 30, 2009 at 11:06 am #

    You wanna talk about a bleak winter…at least you have green leaves..lol…looking out my window at work I see snow, snow and more SNOW…oh and a grey sky OH and branchy trees…I would give anything to see green leaves right about now..haha..I hope things start to look up for you! Take Care

  37. 37
    Kaycee January 30, 2009 at 4:40 pm #

    January is always rough for me. My husband and poor kids know by now to take cover until spring as soon as Christmas is over. It sounds like you and Otto are reasonable people, I’m sure it will work out.

  38. 38
    the domestic fringe January 31, 2009 at 6:05 am #

    Ya, January is tough. I’m wishing for Spring and imagining myself in May.
    -FringeGirl

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