A Bitter Cold Day in January

Kissing Noah Goodbye, Audrey Imfeld, NILMDTS photographer.

It was sunny and gorgeous, like most days in Colorado, but it was January and a bitter cold front had brought in single digit temps overnight. Forecasters promised warmer days, but we wouldn’t see them for a while. The day had finally come for us to leave Children’s Hospital of Denver, a place our family had called home for an inordinate amount of time.

Months earlier when our son Noah was only 7 weeks old, we took him to an outpatient Neurology appointment, one that ended up turning into a 5.5 month hospital stay. Because we had been there so long, we accumulated some extra things, including gifts and well wishes from family, friends, and even strangers around the world.

My husband took a few bags out to the parking garage and the plan was for me to meet him out front after the car warmed up. An Arizona girl, I truly believe winter should be a destination, not a required season.

I bundled our son in a beautiful fisherman’s knit onesie and matching hat, and tiny soft blue Ugg’s sent from Australia, and then wrapped him in several blankets…my attempt to somehow stave off the cold. My husband is from South Dakota where it’s too cold to steal cars in the winter, so he came back up to the room to help with any loose items, leaving the car idling at the hospital entryway. The staff, nurses, and doctors on duty gave us final hugs as we made our way down the hall, grateful, yet wondering how we could finally be headed home.

I didn’t bother putting our then 7 month old son in his car seat as we headed across town. No. I held him tighter to my heart than a seatbelt ever could. We lived less than 5 miles from the hospital, and only had one stop before we got home…I knew nothing could hurt him.

We parked our car at the mortuary and made our way into the quiet lobby. A woman who knew we were coming met us there to receive Noah’s lifeless body. As we handed Noah over to her, my husband and I both collapsed in heaps on the ugly floral couches, grateful to the cushions for collecting tears and softening our guttural cries. We were going home, but Noah would not be coming with us.

To say I’m unconventional is an understatement. I’ve never been a fan of brands, labels, being boxed in, or being told what to do or how to do it. When our son was hospitalized for 5.5 months, I had to learn to live outside the box of traditional parenting. And when he died and the hospital told me his body would be put into the morgue and then transported to the crematorium by the mortuary’s staff, I said, “Ummm, no. My kids isn’t going to spend any time in a morgue. We’ll drop him off. Thanks.”

As you might imagine, no one had ever told the hospital such a thing. I mean, who walks out of a hospital with their dead person?

*This is a segment for a piece I’m submitting to a storytelling platform. I wanted to share it here with you first, because you’ve always been LOVE and SUPPORT like no others and putting this stuff out there gets scarier as I get closer to book proposal stage.

How To Own Your Sh*t: A Series

A friend is in the middle of a DIY remodel and posted after a long day of work, “Why is it so embarrassing to admit we don’t know how to do something?”

The question struck me because the word, “embarrassing,” is a curious thing. It got me wondering…

First of all, this person is crushing their first DIY! It takes bravery and tenacity to try something you’ve never done! This friend has consulted youtube, friends, neighbors, and hashed things out on their own, as well as gratefully accepting help here and there.

This friend’s schooling, training, and work experience to some extent have overlapping themes which gave them foresight to take on such a project, but in practice, this person has never refurbished anything on their own.

Can we just pause and talk about what a feat it is to simply TRY!? 

Whether we are cognizant of our fears when trying new things, or if we try things blindly, the action of trying should be recognized, for sure…even celebrated.

Take note: Before this I didn’t know how to do “X.” Here’s what I’d do next time, here’s what I’d do differently.

This is called learning…and some learning can’t solely be done by reading books, listening to lectures or sermons, or being told, “This is how you do ‘X.'”

Much of life is made up of experiential learning…hands on…as it unfolds.

For example, growing up, I had parents, but when it came time to become a parent, everything was new…it was all a first time experience. Yes, there are many things my Dad, especially, told me to do, “Because he said so.” And, sure I had babysat and all that in middle and high school, but those kids’ parents came home at night and I got paid to walk out the door and get a good night’s sleep. Parenting, in practice, is just that: practice.

The sooner we can admit this, we’re able to experience empathy for our parents, grace for ourselves, and know how to cut the cord and not take everything so personally with our own kids.

These kids are new to us and we’re new to them. Their DNA has never existed on earth prior to this time and space and as a parent, there’s no manual with specific instructions or coding, other than: love ’em, feed ’em, and train them up. I mean, preschool isn’t even a requirement to do life on earth. Back up 1000 years and $500 jogging strollers, BPA-free bottles, carseats, safety locks, screen time limits, vaccinations, ACT tutors, prom after parties, and Wednesday night youth group weren’t even things. Running water and electricity aren’t even requirements.

And somehow, miraculously, humankind has perpetuated. Generation after generation has continued to live and learn, and personally, I believe every generation is doing it better than the one before them. At least, that should be the hope of every generation: not that they do it the same way we did, because, by God, we had our sh*t together, but that they graciously take note that we were doing the best we knew how with what resources we had, and they have permission to tweak, alter, and even radically overhaul the way they want to do life in the future.

This is the miraculous gift of critical thinking. This is owning our sh*t. This is taking responsibility for ourselves and not projecting onto others what we think they should and should not do, and how, or casting blame like they did back in the Garden.

We are all trying to figure it out as we go. And admitting we’ve done things wrong, or don’t know how to do something, though I don’t know if I’d use the word, “embarrassing,” is hard to swallow. Our pride and love and protection, and our declaration to do some things the same as our parents did with us and others the opposite, drive us to either draw a line in the sand and not budge, or to trust the process, and the One who breathed life into us, and our kids, in the first place.

This is sometimes excruciating as a parent who wants to protect our kids from pain and the stupid ass mistakes we made when we were younger.

So, we tell them, “Don’t do such and such.” But they do it anyway. You did it anyway. I did it anyway.

So, what if we make mistakes and do it wrong along the way? 

The fear that’s swelled over the last two to three generations in America’s Christianity has almost snuffed out the actual gospel, the Good News of God’s extravagant love and whole reason for creating of it in the first place: Love. Love. Love.

When we’re stuck in shame or embarrassment because we don’t know how to do something, don’t have the answer, or are genuinely, “wrong,” instead of staying there, being reminded of the power of our beliefs is key.

-Being wrong isn’t bad…believing being wrong makes us “bad” is destructive.
-Not knowing how to do something isn’t bad.
-Making mistakes isn’t bad…but believing making mistakes somehow usurps our God-designed worth, or someone else’s, is loathing and judgment.

 

Admitting we don’t know something, or admitting and owning we were wrong and want to do it differently next time is called learning. And when it’s received and extended between people, because it was first extended to us, is called grace. And there’s ample of that to go around if we give it a try.

 

31 Sure Fire Ways to Screw Up Your Kids

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to counseling. If you didn’t raise your hand, it’s not because your parents were perfect or that you actually have your schtuff together. You either didn’t raise your hand because: you’re lying; you didn’t hear the question; you were raised with strict religious, intellectual, or spiritual shaming messages […]

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How to End Gun Violence

Ending gun violence begins before the gun is ever purchased, it begins before there’s a supply and demand. Ending gun violence, ending VIOLENCE: verbal, emotional, physical, spiritual; must begin with exposing fear for what it is: a liar whose tactic is to divide and isolate us, a liar that would lead us to believe in […]

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Why Voting Matters

  On the 4th of July, when I was a little girl, I remember decorating my tricycle with streamers and riding down the middle of main street in a sea of red, white, and blue. We ate cherries until our fingers were stained and didn’t notice the sun tanning our noses or shoulders as we […]

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May I Ask You a Few Questions?

Hey guys, would you be willing to answer some questions, or give a little feedback, if you are inclined? Maybe we could sit for a while? I wish we could…somewhere so your voice, facial expressions, and hand gestures and body language could accompany your answers! Maybe a park bench in NYC’s Central Park while it’s […]

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Do You Suffer from Paralysis by Analysis?

My husband will press buttons on his keyboard… …buttons or tabs or keys he may not know what they are there for, but he presses them to find out what they do. You guys, the thought of this has me over here breathing in a paper bag!

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It’s Modesty Season, Again…

I’m heading out of town soon to celebrate 25 years with my esposo. We’ll be near salt and sand, soaked in sun, and these things require a bathing suit and speaking my second language. So it made me think of the following post I wrote when we were in Spain for our 20th anniversary. … […]

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WOKE!

“I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred, I get so many things I don’t deserve…” – Bono, The Miracle of Joey Ramone   It’s no secret I’m a huge U2 fan. Their music has impacted and influenced every season of my life.   This morning I woke up before 5am CST. The […]

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When Did We Give Up Our Ability to Think Critically?

I can still hear his voice in my head. Science says our cells and muscles carry memories, maybe that’s what it is? Either way, my dad and I had a good relationship and even became friends near the end of his life. But I can still hear him saying, “Because I said so, that’s why.” “Because […]

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