I’ve been grinding my mouth guard down to a thin layer of plastic. All night, grinding. I was this stressed one year ago, suddenly making plans to move across the country again with my family, trying to find temporary homes for the months of September and October, begging God to help me find a preschool for my son in San Francisco. Every night last year around this time, I’d plug in my mouth guard as if it were my charger, refueling me for the day ahead. My jaw liked to think it was helping me, taking over the anxiety while my head rested.
Another month of August, another lesson in finishing and letting go. When I signed my book contract and saw that on September 15 all would be due, I let my mind breeze past the reality that the baby I’m writing about in my book–the 18 month old who sits beside me on top of a mountain staring out over the ocean and San Francisco, eating dates and holding roly-polies–would actually be leaving me for Kindergarten in these final weeks. Growing up. Letting go of me a little more.
While I’m off in another room writing his story, he’s living it, this last week of his life “at home” with his mom. And I’m in the other room. Writing.
I hate that. We’re supposed to be celebrating, making the most of these last days. And we are, in some ways. Yesterday we were together all day, playing cars, touching bat rays at the aquarium. But, after, I go off for five hours and stare at a screen, forcing words together and pulling them apart. Deleting and revising and attempting to make something beautiful. For what? I wonder sometimes.
Yesterday, my friend Cat asked me how I’m feeling about these last weeks of revision, of finishing. I was doing some evening grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, alone while Chris was home putting the boys to bed. I was on the phone with her, throwing boxes of mac n cheese, a bottle of olive oil into my cart.
How do I feel right now? It’s complicated.
I told Cat how I’m asking God to give me a healthy perspective about success. When my mind gets anxious, I’m usually thinking about failure. I’m thinking how I’ve dreamed of writing a book since I was 10 years old and here is my chance. What if I screw it up?
I’m thinking how this is my son’s last week before elementary school begins and his whole life is never all mine anymore. (As if it was ever mine to start with.) I’m thinking how every day I learn to let go more of more of him and the more I do, the more I’m astounded when I see who he’s becoming: someone separate from me. This beautiful creature who tells jokes and attempts physical comedy when nervous, someone who thinks every kid he meets must be as excited about shark facts as he is.
Is this book worth it? What will make it worth it? Will it matter only if a lot of people read it? Will it matter just to see my name on a cover? Or read some stranger’s kind review?
That can’t make it enough. Enough.
There’s my word for the year. What is enough? What makes me enough?
I’m writing a book about how there is enough time. How I am enough in Christ. I’m writing a book about my failures as a mother and God’s goodness to me in the midst of that.
I’m off in another room writing a book about Enough. All the Enough. And here it is, waiting for me in the heart of the Father God. Enough time. Enough grace. Enough of me.
I do not have to succeed. I get to recognize what God is giving me and offer my enough in return: to this book, to my kids, to people in my life.
I get to offer what I’m given. It is God who makes it beautiful.