Socks, sins, summer’s end

Confession: I was feeling all Mother Teresa about myself this summer for loving and sheltering a flock of needy children, until I realized that I was harassing my sons into turning their socks right side out before tossing them in the laundry so I didn’t have to touch the sweat and dirt.

That was my little clue that I haven’t yet arrived.

It is odd how you can measure yourself by a particular aspect of life, and forget the rest of the picture and your other sins. If there is one thing I’ve learned this summer, it’s that holiness and unholiness live in the most surprising of places.

Why are you wearing only one sock? I asked my second son.

regan's socks (1)

I’m not, he said, and pulled up his pant leg.

regan's socks (2)

For a long time I couldn’t even think about ideas, except what to make for supper and how many loads of laundry I had to do. I got from one nap time to the next by way of diaper changes, runny noses, and endless demands. But it’s fall now. The air is sparkling and the big boys spend their days in school and the twins are turning two and I feel the restless stirring that means I’m ready to add something.

An extremely small something.

We still have five children, going on six. Most of my summer was spent adjusting to this reality, as we settled in for the long haul. I had no idea how many groceries seven people were capable of consuming. I’ve been exhausted and exhilarated and kicked by small feet within and without. Some nights I sank onto the couch and cried about the bad stuff. Some nights I sank onto the couch and waxed lyrical to my husband about the good stuff. All nights I sank onto the couch.

pb & j

I ruined five batches of strawberry freezer jam this summer, from measuring wrong. I had to not think too much as I dumped them in the trash. May they rest in peace.

I had a garter snake crawl over my calves as I knelt weeding my herb bed. I screamed once, horribly, when I felt something alive and struggling back there, and again, harder, when I saw it was reptilian. It is comforting to know I have the power to bring my menfolk on the run from inside the house; I’d never done that before. They found the snake but he escaped into the rock wall. May he not rest in peace.

I spent time tending my babies and canning food for the winter and reconnecting with old friends and waiting for the nation to get over its horrid-fascination with Mr. Trump. He intrigues me. I think to myself How can someone take such pride in dishing it out, yet be unable to take it? How can a man be so hard on women and immigrants and so clearly have a thing for them, with his gorgeous foreign-born wives?

I spent a lot of time worrying, even in my dreams at night. I would think I was the last through a long food line and had only scraps to eat. I would think I had to sort and pack mountains of things for a trip. I would think about Not Enough time, Not Enough resources. And all the while, my sleeping body was hearty and warm and peaceful.

Mommy, says my daughter when we bake together, let’s pretend we’re really busy and we always feed people.

Pretend?

If I don’t come back to this space soon, it won’t be worth pretending that I’m on break instead of absent without leave. Taking a break from blogging and other yeses was the best thing for me, hard but clarifying. I felt like a tree, pruned of my branching interests so my roots could go deeper. But all the time I wasn’t sure if I was going deeper or just dying. I saw the bad things that public writing has fed in me (not made, but fed): the obsession with feedback, the spiritual pride.

I spent time this summer repenting of my sins.

Holiness and unholiness live in the most surprising of places, and often side by side.

What I say won’t be profound, and it won’t be more than twice a week–hopefully Mondays and Fridays. But I think I’m ready. I dropped a lot of ideas into silence this summer, and I’ve missed you. I have some good stories to tell. Soon.

26 thoughts on “Socks, sins, summer’s end

  1. I don’t spend much time reading, but I do read your blogs. I am so delighted that you’re able to write again. What God gives through you is refreshing!

  2. I’m over-the-top happy to hear from you again, Shari!!! … I love your honesty!!! So refreshing!!! God is teaching me to enjoy every moment… embrace it… even being thankful for ” stinky socks”… proof of a busy, healthy family!!! Even though the busyness of this stage of life tends to obscure the blessings at times! 😉 So thanks for taking time to post!!

  3. I was just thinking a blog post from you would be refreshing again! It is. Thank-you for using your talents to encourage others in such an open, honest way. Yes, “Holiness and unholiness live in the most surprising of places, and often side by side”. May your delivery go well and all those hormones adjust smoothly afterwards. 🙂

  4. Yippeeeeeee!!! Yayyyyy!!! A post from Shari!!!! ….gulp. this woman doesn’t even know me… more sedately now… Welcome back, Shari. It is so very good to hear from you again! 🙂

  5. It was wonderful to get a post from you again, Shari! I have missed you. 🙂 God’s blessings to you as you take care of your family.

  6. Must gush.
    -That ‘triptych’! Your best yet.
    -Oh, the pain of messing up big batches of preserves!
    -Little girls, for whom feeding many people is a faraway dream game…almost makes me tear up. How much we do change!!
    -Yes! Pruning branches to go deeper! (or here’s hoping!) I so admire a blogger taking a break and actually sticking to it. And then actually returning 🙂
    -Dropping ideas into silence… reminds me of that awful saying, “most of us die with our songs still inside us.”

    Ah, a post to stir up a girl’s emotions just like an evil Christian romance novel 🙂

  7. I’m happy to see you back, Shari! I had to giggle a little at “All nights I sank onto the couch.” Yeah, tell me about it!

    I know some of those feelings of being tempted to base my value on whether or not people read or comment on my blog. I try to remind myself often to write to please Jesus, not people! But it can be hard.

    Blessings!

  8. Enjoyed a laugh or two!! Loved the one sock boy!! Does that mean that you don’t darn? And feeding many people is never a pretend game that Mommies enjoy…somehow it seems too much like normal every day routine!! She can come play that game at my house!

  9. Ha ha! Lol. I heartily appreciate the two sock pictures. I especially like the hypocrisy of the first in that the visible sock appears whole.

  10. I was just wondering the other day when you would start blogging again..I have missed your blog. And I laughed out loud at the sock picture!!

  11. Very few blogs would I ever miss should they disappear into the cob-webby corners of the internet files. But I always miss your posts, and am glad to see you back! Somehow you strip away all veneer, and leave us with a fresh, honest reality that is rare and precious. =)

  12. Welcome back, Shari– I’ve missed you! I love the sock picture…looks typical of my Jacob too! And pretending to feed large groups of people and always busy…. Hm. What does she think you do normally?!

  13. I can’t say how glad I am to see you again. I’ve missed you! Thanks for fighting to be real in this space. It gives me a breath of fresh air and courage to keep moving. Grace and joy in your house today!

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