At least I'm not Jennifer Aniston...
I just finished reading Anne Lamott’s Some Assembly Required. I find her writing poignant, raw, hysterical, honest, and sacred. I do and don’t recommend her depending on the platform because her colorful language may scare away some folks. For better or worse, it doesn’t me. I appreciate the breadth of emotions she shares and the vivid hue of that language seems to suit.
This is also how I’m justifying some things I may or may not need to work on.
This particular book is a journal of her son’s son’s (yes, her grandson’s) first year of life; all of the family navigating that comes along with this kind of blessing. Chaos, humor, and beauty fill the pages.
Three years prior to this, I read her book Operating Instructions when McBaby #2 was a newborn and it was the journal of her son’s first year. It was so timely as it was filled with unbridled joy and uncurbed insanity. So, it was especially interesting to read the book since it was 20 years more recent and co-written with that very son.
I found myself shocked at this passage of time. Being that McBaby #3 is now 8 months, when the book started out and the "book baby" was 1 month, then 2, then 3, I felt a kind of sadness that my own McBaby was older. As soon as the “book baby” passed my own baby’s age, I suddenly relaxed and felt like I was the newbie and the he was old. Somehow, it seemed like I had beat time.
The first part of the book was the feeling I get when I think I’m old. Like when I went to a bachelorette party recently for a 20-yr old dear family member and upon being introduced to one of her friends and, consequently, shaking her hand, her friend looked at me and said “oh, shaking hands – that’s cool!” As if I was from some other time era… I was reminded that I was in high school when she was born and that none of them could legally even order a drink at the party. Or like when McHusband and I feel like buddies to his amazing high school students… and then realize that we could be their parents. Wahp wahp.
But, when that point came that the “book baby” was over 8 months, I changed to the feeling that’s like when I remember that at least I’m not as old as Jennifer Aniston and she’s still the cat’s pajamas. I mean she graces the cover of People still, folks care what she wears, she’s still an “it girl”. Never mind that I don’t have her rockin’ bod, money, or resume. When it comes to time, I win.
So, part of the book stopped me in my tracks. Having traveled one summer of college to Finland, Sweden, and Russia, I visited many of the places she describes in this book at one point. I’m oohing and aahing at the experiences she’s describing and then she comes to a part where she names something that is even better than these times she’s having in the magnificent, historical places that week. She writes the following - the passage includes her tourist friend Ann and her travel companion, a Jesuit Priest named Tom.
“Ann and I walked and walked until our feet ached; we were blessed out on the sights, the views, the people. But the best part of the visit was when I huddled alone with Tom before dinner. After my nap, we sat in the hotel lobby, looking at a catalogue of flowers that Tom would plant at his house and mine in the fall. He wanted me to pick out my favorite color daffodil for him to plant, but I said, ‘Don’t they just die in four or five days, and not come until the following spring? So what is the point?’
‘The point is those four or five days,’ he said.”
My, how I have missed the point. And, sadly, often. I shake my tiny fist at a big God and scratch my head (whose hairs he knows the number) baffled at why he didn’t do things the way I would’ve and eased the passing of time differently. God, why make them little for such a short time? Why take some of our friends home to Heaven “before their time?” Why make us so aware of the tension that lies in aging?
The point is God knows that 4-5 days is complete for a daffodil. We can either celebrate that or not. In all areas of life.
I was convicted, so I led a short devotion on this idea at worship team rehearsal last week. We swapped Holy moments like these.
Then, the next day, my Mom met us for lunch. Not knowing any of my reading material or thoughts, she surprised McBaby #1 with a bouquet of daffodils before we drove off.
“Get in the car Mom. I need to talk to you.” I said.
“Ok…” she replied.
“Why did you buy these daffodils?” I prodded.
“Well, I saw them at Trader Joe’s and they were so pretty and even though they won’t last very long, I thought of the smile on [McBaby #1’s] face and knew her reaction would bring great joy to both of us."
My, oh my, Lord. Please continue to teach me. Thank you for my mother that gets it, my children that get it. Give me eyes to see.
PS – the daffodils did fade quickly, but McHusband noticed and re-filled my jar and love tank with a new bunch today.