beautiful soul food

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A dozen times a day she tells me I am pretty.

Feeling anything but pretty in my ponytail and sweatpants, I smile and tell her that being pretty on the inside is more important than being pretty on the outside.

She smiles back and touches my cheek.

Day after day, week after week, we exchange these words, always the same.

But today, instead of spilling forth a well worn response, I stop.

I hear what she is saying, but what is she telling me? What is she trying to communicating that I am missing?

I don't feel beautiful.

When children stomp away in anger and doors are slammed, when my soft mother heart feels tight, and words have sharp edges, when the house seems to be coming undone all around me, I don't feel beautiful.


It is raining outside.

I do not want to go.


I tie up shoes, turn up the music, and head out the door.

I run.

I run and I worry.

I worry: do children know I love them, that I want the best for them? Do they know how my heart aches as I keep pushing through, not knowing all the answers, simply hoping that they come when the need is greatest? 

What is one to do when your heart is broken into a thousand pieces and tears fill your eyes, when children hurt bigger than a cookie and a bandaid can mend, when bones are weary yet still more is required, when times are tough and means seem thin, when sleep and peace feel an Island across the ocean away.

These muscles are stiff. It has been too long since last time.

I feel the sting of the run.


Worry fades as muscles warm. It is me and the road. One foot in front of the other, and I just go. Life becomes clearer in running shoes. Answers come - ideas - inspiration. My body lets go and my mind takes over. And then it comes. When I run I am mom, I am wife, I am writer, reader, teacher, friend, leader, athlete, Christian, gardner, sewer, sister. A crazy mix of everything that is good and right with my life. There are no losers out here. I feel powerful, strong, humble, grateful, hopeful but most of all . . . happy, and my soul is fed.
The sun sets and dusk spreads its grey long upon the land as I climb the hill to home. Lights twinkle as I approach the house. Balloons float across the lighted windows as children give chase, careful not to let them drop.

When they do they are quickly picked right back up again and the game resumes.

How much I learn from these children. Pick it back up is the lesson. Pick it right back up and continue on.

I finally see what she has known all along. I am pretty to her just because I am me and I love her. It has nothing to do with hair styles or colored skinnies. She loves me because I offer her all the love I can, day after day, through failure and weakness, I pick life and little ones back up and carry on in love. And that is all she needs. In the end it is she who is teaching me the lesson I thought I was here to teach. When she speaks of pretty she speaks of who I am, not how I look.

As I look from the outside in at my life, I can see it. I am pretty to these people, the only ones that matter, because everytime I leave I come back. I step back in the game day after day, even when the odds of success seem out of favor, I love on, and when I feel nothing but ugly inside she is there to remind me of who I really am, and nothing could be prettier than that.

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