i've always been someone deeply curious about the next season of life -- i literally went and shadowed at my elementary school when i was in pre-k (!!). & so when i read kelly corrigan's first book, the middle place, several years ago, it met me in a place where my heart felt the tug towards motherhood. her voice was so authentic, so humble, so honest -- she made me laugh, and cry, and think about that middle place between your own childhood and having little ones of your own.
in a crazy small world thing my dear friend robin's best friend from home's sister is the editor!, (got that?! :) -- she kindly offered a a signed copy of kelly corrigan's new book, glitter & glue, for y'all! (thank you kelly & jennifer!) i dove in as soon as it arrived, after watching this video (warning: it's made everyone i know cry, so if you're at work, maybe wait). reading glitter & glue felt like sitting down on an old friend's couch. my favorite pages were 193-215 (how's that for specific?) -- i was reading them late at night, bent on finishing the book before my eyes forced themselves shut after an exhausting day. ryan was flying, ellie was snoozing and when i read the line "after claire arrived, during a morning so grueling that when i think about it my lady parts clamp shut in an involuntary, sustained kegel..." i laughed so hard i thought i was going to wake ellie up. i'm not sure i've ever heard childbirth explained better -- everyone tells you that you forget the pain, but i'm glad to know i'm not alone in remembering! the next morning, i was making my latte at a crazy early hour, thought of that line, and started belly laughing out of the blue (leading to a weird look from ellie who had no idea what could be so funny). i was reminded in that final section of the book, on returning, just how good corrigan is at talking about the profound and hilarious truths of motherhood -- she is one of the best. here are two more of my favorite passages:
"i played house, turning doors into chalkboards, making benches from plywood, sewing an ottoman slipcover that my mother-in-law joked, after a couple of glasses of pinot grigio, 'doesn't do your living room any favors.' i started building my new life, collecting my own pigeons for the road ahead. and i began the transition from my father's breezy relationship with the world, to my mother's determined navigation of it. at first, parenthood was what i had expected. exhausting, sometimes heinous, occasionally divine. i held my children close enough to feel them breathe, laugh, swallow. then my days got more complicated, and although there is nothing unusually challenging about my children, i often find myself responding to their sudden and inscrutable moods, mighty wills, and near constant arguing by turning into a wild-eyed fishwife. some interactions are strangely familiar, it's as if i once starred as little orphan annie and then, decades later, found myself cast in the revival as miss hannigan."
"i don't give them false praise or cheap feedback, and the thought of my girls being rejected makes me more angry than sad. i read the notes i find in their pants pockets and the journals tucked in their dresser drawers. i fret over things long after edward clicks off his reading light and goes to sleep -- croup, melanoma, insecurity, precocious puberty. raising people is not some lark. it's serious work with serious repercussions. it's air traffic control. you can't step out for a minute; you can barely pause to scratch your ankle."
i loved what elizabeth gilbert said about glitter & glue: "kelly corrigan's heartfelt homage to motherhood is as tough and funny as it is nostalgic and searching. it's about growing up, gaining wisdom and reconiciling with mom (something we all must do), but it's also an honest meditation on our deepest fears of death and abandonment."
& so, i'm so excited to mail this signed copy to one of you! all you have to do is leave a comment below with one of your favorite places to read. above are two of mine -- this little corner in our room (more photos of our room coming soon!) & the couch in our living room where the sunlight pours in so beautifully. i'll be honest, reading often feels like a luxury these days & when i make the time, i always wonder why i haven't made more space in my life for it. this winter has been a good one for finding books to help pass all the time we've spent indoors. the winner will be chosen this friday -- good luck! xo
“so matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world. like ships on the sea, these books gave matilda a hopeful and encouraging message: you are not alone.” from matilda, by ronald dahl
as i think about this space & what i cherish most about it; what keeps me coming back here to write and to my favorite places to read, it's the hope of a story well-told. i've been thinking a lot about storytelling. i feel like there was this time in between childhood and motherhood where i forgot how important stories are. if you'd asked me when i was 23 how much stories mattered in my life, i wouldn't have given it a lot of weight -- i might have said i loved reading good books, but i would have separated that from storytelling. in this season of life, i keep coming back to stories and why they matter -- to all of us.
it's hard to believe in a few days it will be march -- we're definitely ready for spring around our house & eager to see things begin to grow! in the meantime, here are some things i've loved recently:
so, this little pitcher is so great.
we're reaching a good place with the care & keep of our house (it's been over a year since i began!) it's an ongoing process, but i've learned so much and am eager to do more posts this spring -- all to say, i loved this about how the beginning of the year can be a great time to dig into cleaning & simplifying.
what a stunning way to organize jewelry!
to me, the parenting done in this conversation is like watching a superbowl quarterback -- it is stunning.
photo above: with my favorite person at my 30th birthday party -- he's just so great.
below are the two letters i wrote ellie on the eve of each of ryan's homecomings -- while these are meant for her, an exchange between a mother & a daughter -- i'm working to grow braver & kinder about how i share in this space -- as glennon would say, to be a reckless truth teller, because each of our truth matters and gives us the best chance to know each other.
As I sit here, on the last night of our first deployment – yours and mine – I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that you’ve been my companion for the past six months. It took me 28 years to grow brave enough to face a deployment, and it took you only four short months. While many people would say you are a baby, and so it’s hard to imagine you could actually have these qualities – I know for certain you are strong and brave and loving and kind and intuitive and bright spirited. I know because they seem to be at the core of who you are – the way you wake up every morning, greet each new experience, and interact with others. Certainly, over the course of these six months you went from baby, to little person – showing so much of your personality and spirit. Your daddy and I are so beyond grateful for all the ways you strengthened Team Yonkman during this time.
five months into ryan's second deployment, ellie & i were cuddled up in the chair in the corner of her room, where we had been most nights of her life, doing what we do every night, reading a few books. i was, in a word, exhausted. that month had included the most moments of feeling like i wasn’t enough, like she needed her dad’s patience. his kindness. his presence. it was a night when i was reading, but really was phoning it in. i knew the words on the pages by heart, and mentally was honestly already downstairs having a glass of wine. it, in hindsight, was the hardest month of those 14 months of deployment, and i had so little left to give.
we’d reached a new stage of bedtime reading in that she could sit still for longer stories, with more text on each page, so long as there were beautiful, intricate illustrations. with a few books in particular, she would study each page – finding things she knew – dogs, cats, buckets, shovels, tractors, kids, babies. she was at that moment of development where most of her day was spent verbally affirming the things she knew – repeating them over and over again. each word also needed the same tagline: “mommy.” and so our whole day had been spent “mommy -- car!” “mommy -- truck!” “mommy -- slide!” “mommy-- strawberry!” we were at about the 7000th time that day she’d said my name.
the final book that night was miss rumphius, a beautiful story, i’d read growing up. it’s about a little girl, alice, who lives with her grandfather. she tells him that when she grows up she wants to go to faraway places and live by the sea. he tells her she must do one final thing – she must make the world more beautiful. & so, after she goes to faraway places, she finds her house by the sea, and sets out to do the final thing, by planting lupine flowers. one of the final illustrations is of her village – the church, schoolhouse, sea – all surrounded by lupines. i hadn’t even noticed the flagpole and American flag, but ellie had.