Oct 082011

So – the past month has been pretty bad, I’m not going to lie. I mean, I did lie, like all day, every day, in my cozy bed. One weekend I went to bed at eleven am on Saturday morning and woke up at six pm on Sunday. I was really, really, super sick. Scary sick. We figured that my Lyme was becoming dramatically worse. Craig and I were looking for nannies because I couldn’t care for the kids anymore. We let the adoption go. We adjusted to the idea of playing one man down. We did our best to stay positive, but we were scared.

I saw my doctor last week. When she came into the examination room I was curled up in a ball on the table and couldn’t even raise my head to say hello. Her face looked pained and she said, “Oh, baby,” and she put her hand on my forehead. I thought that was really nice. Doctors should do more of this sort of thing, I think. Then she said, in a nutshell – “You look awful. All your shine is gone. Something is wrong with your medication. This isn’t Lyme. Your body is shutting down because it can’t process your oodles of antibiotics anymore. Let’s stop everything for a few days and see if you feel better, and then if you do, we’ll cut your meds in half.”

I woke up the next day feeling like a million bucks. Literally. The first thing I did, obvi, was go shopping. Craig came home and saw all the bags in the foyer and said, without gusto, “yay. you’re better. yaaaay.”

I am better. I mean, I still have Lyme, but I’m my old Lymie self, which is to say that I’m pretty much normal with added confusion, absolutely no depth perception and extreme bouts of fatigue when it’s time to vacuum or grocery shop or bathe the kids. And I’m so grateful.

But I’m also extremely grateful that I got so sick for those two months.

Each morning for the past few weeks, I have peeked out my door with giddy anticipation to discover a gift on my doorstep. Candles, inspirational poetry, organic fruit, stationary, gift cards, cozy pink socks that I’m wearing right now. Each gift came with a note that said some variation of . . . You are loved. We’re praying for you. Love, Anonymous. My neighbors. They got together and planned a Love Ambush for me. I just moved to this neighborhood last year. It just amazes me. And it helped me. Just to know that I was literally surrounded by all that anonymous hope and love. And that I didn’t even have to write thank you notes because the gifts were anonymous. I’m a grateful person and a writer, but I despise writing thank you notes. How’d they know? I was thinking yesterday- if I hadn’t gotten so sick, I wouldn’t even know where I live. I wouldn’t be aware of how beautiful this place is, and the people in it. I might not be bursting at the seams to pay it forward, to find the next hurting mama and plan Love Ambush #2. I now have new eyes with which to look at my neighbors, who are miracles. Thank you, Lyme.

Craig and I started marriage therapy two weeks ago. It’s been hard, but good hard. We feel new- like we’re starting over. We needed this, bad. Craig’s been a single parent for a bit and he’s been scared. It’s taken a toll on him, but he wouldn’t admit it before- he was so busy being hopeful and strong. He’s a hero, I think. We are fine, but we don’t want to be fine. We want to be great. Like my friend said, we don’t want to just be good people, we want to be good partners to each other. And I have a husband who wants this as badly as I do, and who is willing to work and fight for it. But we wouldn’t have known this if my illness hadn’t forced us to face our fears. I now have new eyes with which to look at my husband, who is a miracle. Thank you, Lyme.

I put my kids to bed last night. I know it’s supposed to be precious time – bedtime, but I usually hate it. I read and sing and finally get them down and then they pop up one at a time for an hour and it’s like a twisted game of whack-a-mole. But last night I didn’t hate it. I loved reading to them and singing to them. Because it was the first night in two months that I’d had the energy to put them to bed. To tuck them in. And it was sort of wonderful. I’ve been given new eyes with which to see what an honor it is to care for little souls and hearts and minds. Miracle, really. Thanks, Lyme.

And the Monkees . . . Oh, you Monkees. All your comments and love and emails and encouragement and understanding. One of you sent me a book that is saving me right now. And a beautiful sign that says, “Look For the Good” in decadent hot pink calligraphy. I plan to follow directions.

Now – losing the adoption. Trying to get perspective on that one is interesting.

We explained to Chase that it was over a few nights ago. That there was no baby boy coming home. That God had said nope. We explained that we didn’t know if it was actually a No. or a Not Yet. But we told him that either way, we were fine and hope he’d be fine, too. We told him we were already the luckiest family on Earth and we didn’t need anything other than what we already had.

Chase sighed and said, “Mommy, this doesn’t seem to be working out for us. Maybe we should just adopt a highway.”

For the record- this is my favorite thing that anyone has ever said to me in my whole life, and I am currently researching whether one must pass a background check to adopt a highway. I can see it, honestly. All the Meltons in orange vests, picking up trash on the side of the road. I might rope us all together like a chain gang. I hope we get our own sign: This highway Has Been Adopted by The Meltons. Too perfect.

There is actually a whole lot of beauty in letting the adoption go, and I’m finding it. Look For The Good, right, Molls? The baby would have taken up all the energy and time and love that I can now offer to the people I already have. The people I’ve grown new eyes for. My parents, my friends, my neighbors, my husband, my children, my Monkees, myself.

Something about the past two months has shifted my perspective dramatically, for now.

I’m a spaz. I just am. I’ve lived my entire life, up to now, as a complete spaz. The voices in my head are always going a mile a minute and I’m just all over the place. I’m well intentioned, and sweetly all over the place, but still. It’s exhausting to be me, and sometimes I feel like a hamster on a wheel. Like God just gives me projects to use up my energy so I don’t explode or drive people too nuts. I don’t want to live like that anymore. I need to find a way to channel my energy into peace, because I deserve that.

So. I am going to stop trying to save the world, and instead use my energy to notice how beautiful the world is just as it is. It occurred to me recently that saving the world might not be my job. It occurred to me that my only real job might be to slow down and notice the world, to be amazed by it. It’s almost too good to be true, but it might just be true.

So I think I’m going to try, for the next year, to live with the belief that the world is all right. This is a tough paradigm shift for me to attempt. Because I usually think, one million times a day…Oh My God, the world is falling apart, the world needs my help. I MUST HELP. EVERYONE NEEDS ME! AAAAHHHH!!

This, as I reflect upon it, might be the teeniest bit egotistical.

And with the lost adoption and the Lyme and all the confusion and Anna and huh? I just feel exactly like Homer Simpson, in one of my favorite scenes ever, when he’s tripping on magic peppers.

I just need to Stop Doing Anything for awhile.

I just want to look around. Love my neighbors. Get to know people. Listen, look, breathe. Appreciate my blessings instead of trying desperately to create new ones.

In short – I need to calm down. Which may be my biggest challenge to date.

I’m excited. But not TOO excited. Calllllmmmmlllly excited.

I’m off to do my yoga and then spend my day soaking up my blessings. Looking, listening, breathing, smiling.

Remembering that the world is all right and that it is my privilege, as a child of God, to soak it all up fearlessly.

The world is a gift to me, not my problem to solve.

Love, G

Sep 292011

Dear Anonymous,

Tish’s fish, Sadie, died last week. We’ve been through the passing of a fish before, but this time was special. My little man, Chase, experienced what I can only describe as an existential crisis. He cried and shook and begged me for answers . . . for two hours. He said things like, It’s not about Sadie, mom. It’s that everything we love is going die. How do we survive that? And – I know what you’re going to say about heaven, mom, but how do you know it’s real? You don’t. And I don’t know if I can believe it.

I didn’t offer many brilliant answers to my baby’s brilliant questions. But I was grateful to be able to tell him truthfully that Yes, I believe that there is some sort of heaven, though I doubt it’s like anything we’ve heard described. When he asked how I believed l told him that I believe because I have to – because if I didn’t believe, the terror that was gripping his heart, the terror of losing the people I love forever would overtake me and I’d have no joy or hope and I’d die inside. I told him that I believe because I have no other choice, because I was made to believe, because if I didn’t believe in life after death I wouldn’t be able to live life before death. I’d panic and then freeze.

When he asked me what I believed heaven was like, I told him that I believe heaven is a place where everyone loves each other perfectly.

When he asked me, Why, mom? Why does God send us here, where things hurt so much? Why does He make us love things that He knows we’re just going to lose? I told him that we don’t love people and animals because we will have them forever, we love them because loving them changes us, makes us better, healthier, kinder, real-er . . . stronger in the right ways and weaker in the right ways. Even if animals and people leave, even if they die- they leave us better. So we keep loving, even though we might lose, because loving teaches us, changes us. And that’s what we’re here to do. God sends us here to learn how to be better lovers, and to learn how to be loved, so we’ll be prepared for heaven.

When I finished this part, Chase looked right into my eyes and his tears cleared for a moment and he said, “Yes. I can believe that part. That sounds right. I believe that.”

And I agreed. I thought – Wow. Yes, that’s actually what I believe. I can buy all of that stuff I just said. That sounds True to me, thank God.

Anonymous, I am trying to become more loving down here. I am trying to learn. And you, willing or not, have been a teacher for me. I want to apologize for my response to you. It was a great essay. It really was. But this place has never been about great essays. This place is about Love. And I have learned that sometimes I have to leave a great essay unwritten in order to love better. Because it is better to be kind than to be “right.”

If I speak with the tongues of men and angels but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

As I read and re-read my response to your comment, Anonymous, I realized that I must have sounded pretty clangy to you. Because what I did was announce that I was going to turn the other cheek, and then didn’t. At all. What I did, actually, was defend myself and then sweetly judge and attack you. My least favorite part was when I wrote “people like you.” I don’t even believe in people like you and people like me. I just believe in people. I’m sorry for using those divisive and unfair words.

To be clear, I don’t regret writing that essay, just like I wouldn’t change what you said. I don’t spend a lot of time beating myself up and I hope you haven’t either. I’m grateful for this whole process. We needed to go through all of it to get to here.

But now I know I didn’t really listen for the love in what you said. I listened for the judgment, so that’s what I found. Seems to be how it works…seek and you shall find.

If I’d really turned the other cheek, I would have simply tried to explain to you why I want to adopt, which is so hard for me to put into words, but would have made for an even better, kinder, truer essay. Less sassy, but better.

Anonymous, I am so in love with this brutiful world that I feel torn up a lot of the time. I find people to be so beautiful, so strong and this world to be such a painful mess for the brave people who live here. I tend to take on the pain of others as my own pain, because I believe it IS my own pain. Because I really, truly believe that we all belong to each other. I believe that heaven, at first, will be a revealing, a lifting of the fog when we will look back down on Earth and see that we were in fact, one big family. And that hell will be seeing that and knowing that while living our lives, we let our brothers and sisters and mothers and father suffer and starve and die, while we had more than we needed. That will be hell, I think, for awhile. Knowing the truth. Knowing we let our own family members die. But then God will wipe our tears, and forgive us, and make everything new, and redeem us all. And we’ll heal, and become whole and enter our eternal family with forgiveness and understanding and love for all.

That is my interpretation of Matthew 25:33.

And so I just want to be part of my eternal family now. I love being a mama, and I love other mothers. I am awed by our strength and sacrifices and bottomless love and passion and courage. And I don’t understand why I get to raise my babies and some mamas don’t. Why I have every resource I need and more, more, more and some mamas, dying of AIDS, have to travel miles in bare feet to beg for medicine for their starving babies. Babies whom they love and cherish every bit as much as I love and cherish mine.

Thinking about this disparity drives me close to what I would consider the edge of insanity. I hate it. I don’t understand. And I feel compelled to do something, to show my love for and solidarity with these women, these mamas who are just like me. And so I think, I can’t do what I want to do, which is to fix things, to make things fair so that these mamas can raise their own damn babies. But I can give one of their babies a home. I can offer one of these mama’s babies every good thing I have- which is my husband and my children and my home and my faith and my friends and my joy and my hope. I can do that part, I can beg God to use me to answer another mama’s prayers. I can care for her baby since she can’t. I can be part of the second best thing. And I can love that baby and raise him to know how much his first mama loved him too, and when I get to heaven I can put that baby into her waiting arms, because I’ll know her, and she’ll know me, and we will finally be a whole family.

And all of this- it still doesn’t describe completely or precisely why I want to adopt.

There is a book I love, called Pillars of the Earth. In it there is a man named Tom, whose dream it is to build a cathedral. He sacrifices everything -his family’s money, future, security, even health to realize his dream. Some people, even in his own family, decide that he’s a foolish, selfish, crazy man.

When he finally gets his big break and the man who holds the power to make Tom’s dream come true asks him: Why? Why do you want this so badly? Why have you sacrificed everything to build this cathedral?

Tom replies:

Because it will be beautiful.

That’s my real reason, Anonymous. I want to adopt because it will be beautiful, to me.

That’s why I’ll never be an adoption advocate, which has been requested of me several times. Because I don’t believe that everyone should adopt. I believe that everyone should discover what she finds to be most beautiful and then create it.

So anyway, that’s what I should have said, Anonymous. I should have tried to bridge the gap of understanding between us instead of building a bigger wall. I should have explained instead of defended.

Also, Anonymous.

I may have been extra sensitive for this reason:

Craig and I had to make the horrible decision of letting our adoption go last week. We were as close as a family can possibly get to bringing our baby boy home, but we had to say no, we’re sorry- we can’t. Please give our baby to another family.

My health, it’s getting worse instead of better- and there was a bit of an intervention from some people I love.

Glennon- you’re sick. You’re barely making it through the day. You can’t do this. You must take care of yourself and the family you already have. You must heal.

It was quite familiar to me, actually. I’ve been through a similar intervention before. That one was tough to hear too, but necessary. Good things came of it.

But you can imagine, Anonymous. It’s been hard. After all these years.

It’s been hard, but not impossible. I have a friend who’s doing impossible, and I know the difference.

We have some emptiness now, Anonymous. Empty space in our hearts where we thought that baby would be, an empty nursery, empty time, empty plans where shopping and decorating and nesting used to be.

But if there is one thing I’ve learned about empty, it’s that empty can be more exciting and ripe with promise than full. There is space, now.

What will come fill it? What will enter our lives? What’s next?

I hope that healing comes next. From this loss and from my disease. I hope that I will learn what healing is, what it means, what it looks like, and that I will be able to share the whole healing process with you. Because we are all healing, right? So we might as well do it together.

Love You, Anonymous sister.


Feb 192011

Monkees, meet the newest love of my life.

Theo Cutie-Pie Melton.

He’s so fluffy I’m gonna DIE! (Have you seen Despicable Me? If not, please do.)

When Craig and I started looking for a dog, I wrote on Facebook that I needed advice “for a friend” who was considering dog adoption. I couldn’t admit that the friend was actually me because I didn’t want anyone trying to talk some sense into me.

In response to my request, my old friend, Mandy, sent me a long email with lots of wonderful advice about rescue dogs. Mandy is a dog trainer and spends most of her time and heart taking care of homeless doggies. Mandy asked me specifics about what kind of dog we were looking for, and I told her that I wanted a near-comatose dog. I wanted a semi-stoned dog. I wanted a dog that likes the couch as much as I do. I told her that basically, I wanted an adult, hypo-allergenic love bug. She promised to keep her eyes open as she visited the local shelters.

Last week Mandy emailed me and said something like: “I may have found your dog. Just did a behavior evaluation on a stray Lhasa Apso that was the chillest, most gentle dog I’ve ever seen. He’s white, probably about five years old, and he’s got a Brando-like underbite that makes him so ugly he’s cute.”

When I read the ugly thing, I knew he was mine. With the exception of husbands, I always choose the ugly one. Craig won’t let me choose our Halloween pumpkins anymore because I always insist that we purchase the ugliest one in the patch. It is extremely upsetting to me to consider that if ignored, the deformed pumpkins might perish without ever having fulfilled their pumpkin potential. It’s just so unjust. Who decides what deformed or ugly mean, anyway? Tears me up, those different pumpkins. I can almost hear them whispering to me “Pick me! Please, Pick me! You are our only chance!” We’ve also had a number of extremely rough looking Christmas trees in our home for this very same reason. I love a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. So obviously I fell in love immediately with this Charlie Brown dog.

When I told Craig that Mandy found our dog, he said, “NO, Glennon. I am not feeling a dog right now. No. No way.”

And I looked at him for a minute and then said, “That’s cute, honey. Are you done now?”

And he paused and said, “Yeah. I’m done. When can we visit him?”

So the next day we told the kids we were going to visit some homeless doggies and love on them for awhile.

When we arrived, the shelter people led us through a huge room of kennels. Every single dog was barking like mad. It was a little chaotic and intimidating. Amma was scared.

But then we got to the very end of the row of kennels, and in the very last cage . . . this little fluffy guy quietly walked toward us, peeked his head out, wagged his tail and licked Chase’s hand. No barking, no jumping, just wagging and kisses.

Craig later said that Theo seemed to be saying, “Well . . . there you are. I knew you’d come. What took you so long?”

We walked him outside to the shelter’s courtyard and played and played and played together.

After an hour we decided to apply to adopt him. We knew we couldn’t get the kids’ hopes up, so I kept my poker face on.

The next day the shelter called us and said that our doggie was very close to becoming our doggie. And they also said that we could pick him up as soon as they sent him to be groomed and neutered. They explained that since Theo was a stray, we was quite matted and dirty and needed to be freshened up.

I called Craig and said:

Husband -We have a problem. No way are they grooming him before he comes home.

Craig: Why, honey? (A little too wearily, I thought.)

Me: Because! I don’t want him to think that he has to be all cleaned up and pretty in order for us to want him! No way. He comes home just as he is. We’ll clean him up. I love him all jacked up. He comes home all jacked up.

Craig: I can’t say I really understand that.

Me: Well, that’s fine because I understand it enough for the both of us.

Craig: Silence.

*Sister beeps in on call waiting*

Me: Gotta go, husband, sister is calling.

Husband: Sigh of relief.

Me: Sister! They want to groom Theo before he comes home and this is unacceptable!

Sister: Why, sister?

Me: Because I don’t want him to feel like we didn’t love him enough as he is to bring him home.

Sister: Oooooookay. Let me try to understand. You …..don’t …want….him…to…feel….like…you…didn’t…love….him…..enough.

Me: Why do people always repeat what I say verrrrrrrrrrry slowly and make it sound all crazy???

Sister: It doesn’t sound crazy because it’s being repeated slowly, Sister. That’s not the reason. The things you say sound crazy before they’re repeated. We are just hoping you’ll hear the crazy if we repeat it back to you.

Me: Whatever. Listen, Amma’s pretty now, but do you remember what she looked like when we got her? We didn’t insist on a make-over before she came home.

Sister: Silence. You are unreasonable, Sister.

Me: Silence back. Well. Hm. While we are on the subject of unreasonable, Sister, I feel obliged to tell you that I find it completely unreasonable that you continue to try to reason with me after having known me for THIRTY THREE YEARS.

Sister: Hm.You have a point, Sister. Yes, you do. Go get your dog. We’ll groom him later.

Me: Kay. Thank you. But I’m taking him back to the shelter next week so they can send him to get neutered. I don’t want Theo to think that part was my idea. That’s on them.

Sister: Silence. Fine, Sister.

So I went to pick him up at the shelter on Thursday night. I was extremely nervous for this final meeting. Let’s just say that I don’t always have the best luck with adoption interviews. So I called one of my bffs, Christy, because she fosters dogs and often facilitates interviews with potential families. When she answered I said, “Oh my god I’m on my way for my final interview and what if they ask if I take anti depressants and what if they read the blog and what if they ask me if I ever inhaled and just oh my god.”

And Christy said, “Glen. Breathe Deep.This is not like adopting a person. Just don’t mention Michael Vick and you’ll be fine.”

So I took a deep breath and walked into the shelter. And I began my interview with a lovely dog trainer named Feather. And as soon as she started talking, I knew I’d be okay. I mean, really – anyone who dedicates her life to helping animals or young children is okay in my book. It seems to me that these are two of the only vocations for which there can be no other motive than gentleness and love. Because when you are working with animals or children, there are usually no grown-ups around to give you kudos or respect or much money. It’s just you and the powerless ones and God.

So, as you would expect, Feather was good to me. And half-way through the interview, Sister showed up at the shelter. Because, well, because Sister always shows up. And now since she is John’s, he’s gotta show up, too. Which he doesn’t seem to mind too much because he is wonderful.

Sister was so excited she looked like she might pee. A new nephew, you know. The previous night she had arrived at my house with a doggie car seat and a zebra striped doggie bed and thirty dollar Bed Head strawberry banana doggie detangler spray. I know. But that’s sister. When they brought my doggie out, Sister held him first.

When Tish was born, Sister was the first one of us to touch her. She held Tish’s hand first. Before me, before Craig. It’s natural for us. My babies are her babies.

And then I left the shelter with my doggy. Just me and him. And he sat in my lap the entire ride home. He was a little shaky. But that was okay, because so was I. I cried a lot.

Because God finally let me adopt somebody. I am going to take such good care of my precious somebody.

When we got home, Craig was waiting on the floor in the foyer and Theo walked straight over to him and laid down in his lap – belly up, ready to soak up some love.

Then we gave him a bath. That was interesting. Moving right along.

The next morning we let Theo wake up each child, one at a time. The kids didn’t know he was coming home the previous night, so when they woke up to their very own doggie licking their cheeks – well . . . it was a good morning.

We decided to name him Theo because Mandy’s maiden name was Theobald…and since she found him for us, Theo seemed right.

Theo is so chill that yesterday I got worried that maybe he was sad, so I took him to the vet.

I have since learned that you don’t take your dog to the vet just because he looks sad.

Anyway, the vet assured me that Theo is perfectly healthy, just extremely calm.Theo doesn’t mind if you pull his tail a little or mess with his food or even if 15 children at the playground surround him and squeal and pet him all at once. He can’t be rattled. We hadn’t even heard him bark. Until . . .

. . . yesterday evening when we were sitting outside and one of my neighbors brought over her very large, very sweet Labradoodle. And this Labradoodle calmly walked over to sniff me. And Theo went nuts. He leaped out of my lap and all thirteen furry pounds of him started barking like mad at the dinosaur-sized Labradoodle and I had to pick Theo up to carry him inside. On the way in, Craig said: he was protecting you. And so I acted embarrassed and apologized to my neighbor and then scurried away and took Theo inside to the couch and cried and snuggled and kissed him for an hour.

My knight in white furry armor.

Look, I don’t know what this life is doing to me. But with every new love experiment, of which Theo is one, my heart just gets smooshier and smooshier until I worry I’m going to lose all form and turn into a blob of goo. It’s like one of these days I am just going to melt into this beautiful world.

I think I just really, really love my dog. Thank you, God.