motherhood · Poetry

It’s Never Going to Be Pastels for Us

I can’t really imagine a world where my husband and I pose in pretty neutrals with our squishy baby all cuddled with us perfectly.

My favorite newborn photos to have are the selfies, the real-life snaps, reality without swaths of pastel.

I love having blurry renditions of cuddles, togetherness, and quiet hospital videos I make myself take because I know I’ll regret it if I don’t! (And I wish I had more.) The lack of fanfare matches the intimacy of the season and I love that. Life. Us experiencing it. Us in love. Us growing. Us without pastels.

The season after Shasta was born had us wrapped in a beautiful cocoon. I struggled hard and there’s no denying that, but I also remember how much honest-to-goodness magic bubbled from that first year with Shasta. I’m almost halfway to a year with Heidi and it’s been far less cocoon like. But as a woman I have grown. I am emerging. And I am deeper in my motherhood. The bright, vibrant, layered reality has replaced the magic. Of course, magic moments to come, but it’s a reality now that feels full and big and so vibrant with life.

When I was thinking of our newborn//infant season with our radiant Heidi, this poem practically wrote itself. And it matches how we’ve chosen to document the early days with a newborn. No pastels. Never pastels. But extraordinary and very real beauty nonetheless.

GROWING PAINS (on marriage, parenthood, life❤)

between arguments,
long tiring
nights,
long lasting
infant cries,
there were lows
weren’t there?
but still the roses
grew,
and how the sunflowers
bloomed,
and baby smiled too.
grins, first laughs,
and bright-eyed coos,
forgiveness was
our Marriage
Song,
and a second round
of Morning Glories
burst out
in a day
or two.
I think they call
this
growing pains,
I think they call
this
Love.

-S.V.F.

infertility · motherhood

Zinnias, August 1st, & a Folded Paper of Dreams

I scribbled out my dreams for the future. I wrote of children who would garden with me and complain about it, but I wouldn’t mind, because I would be just so happy they were there with me. A folded piece of paper stuck in a between the pages. Who knew if it would happen? Who knew if it could.

But it did.

2022 zinnia with Shasta’s red wagon in the background and the spent flowers inside already dumped out in the pathway. I better go pick those up soon!😂

Of course, I couldn’t believe my eyes. But it was true. The next nine months passed as they do, and on the fourth day past my due date, I was finally in labor. It was August 1st, and he was coming.

I walked out to the garden and cut some zinnias before we made our way to the hospital. It felt like an important thing to do. It was celebratory in its own way. Even though I had been in labor all day and had contractions all through the previous night, I had more laboring ahead. We came home for the night with instructions to come back the following morning. I didn’t pick any more zinnias, and by the next morning I was much too along to easily do much of anything else besides labor! We were going to have a baby! We were about to meet our son.

It was a birth I won’t soon forget. And full of laughter. I will always remember his birth has one of laughter! A beautiful foreshadowing of our life with him. We brought our Shasta home to sunflowers and zinnias.

I remember looking at him and thinking, “I can’t believe he’s real.” And I remember the moment I realized we’d have our Shasta-boy past the newborn stage. We had our son for keeps. I remember feeling that certain sadness all mothers feel when realizing your child won’t stay this little baby forever, but I also remember realizing how exciting it would be to have conversations with him as a young man.

And so time moves as it does and I find myself in the garden on August 1st again.

Shasta has outgrown his yellow boots and walks around in his blue ones. The sunflowers are towering giants. The zinnias are begging for attention. The garden needs some tending. I cut the zinnias and stop his young hand from picking the one not yet bloomed! Such earnest “help!” I place the cut zinnias in water and hand him his own to stick in the water too. Soon after I begin trimming out spent flowers. I reach across the flower bed to give my son the old and done flowers to put in our weed bucket which will soon be stored in his red wagon along with a piece of bark he found. He says “tank u!” multiple times as flower stems and old things cross from me to him.

We are gardening together.

It must make God smile to see it. . .

Two years later the woman who scribbled dreams on a piece of paper has a jar of zinnias, a bucket of spent flowers, a son to garden alongside, and a baby daughter nearby. Over the years, time has felt both cruel and beautiful. But with God it has always gone to good places. Somehow in His miraculous, healing, redemptive, and purposeful work, He made the barren woman sing before children and then made her a joyful mother of them.

Shasta, Heidi, and I fumble through the garden gate in the unlikely cool of an August morning. We’re a fun group, but not a very graceful one! Two’s a party, three’s a crowd as they say.

Naturally, I disagree.

Shasta runs around in his blue toddler boots or crocs depending. Heidi experiences the garden for her first spring and summer. In many ways, I toddle too as I experience so many firsts as a mother. Nonetheless, I water and watch us all grow.

The story unfolds vibrantly, and I have found it is the zinnias who tell the time.

Two whole years.

Then and now.

All to good places. The zinnias tick away this lovely mayhem of life. And we grab hold. With gusto. With flowers on the kitchen table.

I think I have a new tradition every first of August.

Life at the Blue House

They Gave a Backbone to Happiness // words for our 7th Anniversary

Our garden tells the story. Our bright yellow shed. The way we approach each new spring. How we laugh together.

It’s been seven years of marriage.

We wear our ugly crocs and go out in the garden in the evening after our children go to bed. He waters. I trim roses. We admire our tiny bursting sunflowers every day. In awe at how they’ve grown.

We walk on the garden path of stones, almost completed. I pick up our little boy’s toys all over the garden. Our two plastic hand-me-down chairs sit side by side tilted on the grassy hillside. We make plans for the rose bed. Note the new growth on our daughter’s rose bush. It’s a story we’re living in exploding color.

And I celebrate seven years with the poem I wrote for Hope Gives a Eulogy. Because this story which the garden tells and our laughter accompanies, began years ago when in our earlier youth we stumbled through the graveyard, harsh reality nipping at our heels.

From the grave the garden grew and our love deeper with it.

Backbone

Happy people live here.

Bright yellow, light blue,

Big parties, belly laughter,

And year-round Christmas lights.

Happy people live here

Even after the music box

Abruptly changed its tune.

Happy people live here.

Making up magic and merriness,

Composing a new anthem

For easily missed things

Too big to fit in a box.

Happy people, the happiest

They gave a backbone to 

Happiness.

While harsh realities nipped at our heels we cultivated life with our fingertips. Side by side. Until the bright yellow on the walls became the bright yellow in our laughter and the music box got swallowed by the music of a garden that keeps on growing.

We pass through the garden gate made of splintered scraps of wood, and close it for the night. We walk by the sunflowers, step into our home, children sleeping soundly.

Indeed, it has been happy.

A grave. A garden. A dying, living, growing thing.

Indeed, it is us wrapped in seven years of love.

A story hard-won.