Listening to the girls talk about their days at school, I wince at the ongoing drama from their bus rides, I feel the weight of the things one daughter wants to sign up for, and the complete lack of interest another daughter has in anything organized.

 Are they doing enough? Too much? Should I push harder? If I say yes to this, will it fix that? Too late to bed? 

This doesn’t even begin to cover the cloud of marriage and self.

Am I giving enough to either for fulfillment? Can I separate parenting and partnering without guilt? Can I take care of myself and my marriage? How can I stretch to do this? 

My heart and mind collide again and again, battering my resolve and my body. Tugs, cracks, splinters, and fatigue. I make these choices with eyes wide open, but I resent them. Looking for someone to blame or a specific thing to lament, all I see is my own wake.

The dust I kick up trying to solve things keeps me from seeing. I miss that not all things need fixing, some are meant to be survived; it is living. The easy way is tempting, but it doesn’t get us anywhere. I long for my girls not to hurt, but I want them to have the strength and confidence that comes from survival.

I stood waiting for the bus yesterday and found myself drawn to a spindly birch tree. It was bent nearly in half, craning out and toward the light. As I scanned the woods to see the tree’s base, the sun made rat-a-tat-tat pulses on my face through the pine boughs. I heard a woodpecker and ducked my head right and left to try and find it in the tallest limbs. The sun kept hitting my face and as I squinted I laughed.

Everything that I am going through is like the birch tree. It is bending and extending to find the sun, learning to live with the moss that grows at its feet, and coping with heavier, dense branches that hold it back. Like that birch, I am understanding that life comes with cracks. Some of the cracks leave marks on us and others let the light warm our skin.