I’m fairly no-nonsense when it comes to Selah’s bedtime. I’ll admit that our routine is a little longer than I’d like, made even longer by typical toddler stalling techniques, but I do what I can to keep it from going too far overboard. Once she’s in her crib (I cringe to think about switching her to a toddler bed soon), I tuck the watercolor rose muslin blanket around her little body—the same one I swaddled her in during our first morning together in the hospital. She kisses each of my hands and then I kiss hers. I plant a kiss on her mouth, another on her cheek, and give her an awkward hug as I lean further into the crib. To end the bedtime dance, Selah requests in her tiny voice, “One minute.” She pulls my hand to her face, and I cradle her warm cheek in my palm, whispering how much I love her as her eyelids start to flutter.
Most of the time when I pull away and say a final goodnight, she settles quietly and lets me slip out the door. For the last week, though, she has been crying and saying, “Wait, Mommy! One minute!” Each time, I explain that we’ve already done one minute. And each time, she starts to wail, “More one minute!” Normally, I would stand my ground with kindness but certainty: “We already did one minute, so I’m going to leave now. I’ll be downstairs and will check on you in 10 minutes.” But this week, I can’t bring myself to walk away. In her cries, I hear the cries of thousands of immigrant children who desperately need their mothers and fathers to kiss them goodnight, to offer reassuring hands on their little faces, to tell them that everything will be okay.
So I offer myself to Selah. I lean over her crib rail, and even though it digs into my stomach, I ignore the discomfort and focus on the sound of her soothing coos, muffled by her fingers in her mouth. I breathe deeply and commit the smell of her skin to my memory. I press my palm to her cheek and close my eyes, and I hold the mamas and dadas and babies in my heart, breathing a wordless prayer to God. I don’t even know how to pray about this anymore, but I trust that the sacred act of holding space before God counts for something. I trust that this tiny act of love between a mother and child contributes something good into the universe.
There are a dozen more practical ways I can help, and I’m actively doing some of them. But if I truly believe that the whole of creation is held together by Love, then this part matters too. This is my offering.
Here’s what I learned, loved, and read in June. But first…
How You Can Learn about the Border Situation and Help Immigrant Families
- A quick and helpful rundown of how we got here, in podcast form.
- A Twitter thread from one of the few journalists who was allowed inside one of the migrant children detention centers.
- An explanation of what President Trump’s executive order accomplishes—and doesn’t.
- Gut wrenching audio of children crying after being separated from their parents.
- A blog post from one of my favorites with tons of practical ways to help.
- An easy way to provide diapers, wipes, clothing and other essentials for immigrant children in need.
- The easiest way to influence change at the policy level.
- Make sure each separated child has appropriate legal representation.
- Help reunite immigrant children with their parents.
What I Learned
- Sometimes building a community is imperceptible. I’m in a bit of a drought with in-person friendships. It’s increasingly hard to see people I care about, and my local friends are more spread out these days. Dan and I don’t have a home church anymore and have struggled to find a place where we (well, I) fit in. I feel lonely but also too time-crunched to do anything about it. On my birthday this year, a few coworkers sneaked into my office and dropped off little gifts before I arrived. A few others wrote me insightful and encouraging cards, and a few more took me out to lunch to celebrate. I didn’t realize the depth of the community I had at work, because it had formed so gradually that it was imperceptible. It didn’t look like the way I’ve traditionally built friendships. But it was a sweet and needed reminder that I’m not alone—somewhere along the way, these coworkers became friends, and with any luck, a few more years will make them family.
- I’ll never feel rested enough to get up early. I go in spurts with getting up early to read and write. I’ll do it for a few weeks, make a ton of progress on a project, and then burn out. Then I’ll take a few weeks to catch up on sleep before starting the cycle again. But here’s the thing: when I’m in catch-up mode, I find that I go to bed 30-60 minutes later than I do when I’m in get-up-early mode. I’m sleeping the same amount and I have nothing to show for it! Because in those extra 30-60 minutes a night, I’m typically nodding off while reading my book, scrolling social media to wake myself up, and then repeating the process. Why not just go to bed early? It’s such a mind game because I want to squeeze all the freedom out of my night but it would serve me better to just go to bed. Any tips?
- Even a quick getaway can feel like a vacation. I guess I already knew this, but I don’t always act like it’s true. I love travel that feels grand—complete with airports, being away for at least a week, and seeing something new and different and remarkable each day. I often wonder if the small trips are even worth it when they take almost as much work as the long ones. We recently did a 36-hour trip to Michigan, but it felt even longer because we were intentional about our time. We took Selah to Michigan’s Adventure, stayed in a fun hotel, and stopped in a beach town on the way home. It was so refreshing just to get out of our normal routine and really enjoy each other and this phase of life. Traveling with kids can be hard, so we set our expectations pretty low—and were pleasantly surprised when the whole thing was smooth and crazy fun. And as it turns out, Selah is a total thrill seeker!
What I Loved
- Not Your Mother’s Dry Shampoo. This is my favorite trick for messy buns. I used to just spray this at my roots to soak up oil, but to prep my hair for a bun, I also spray it on the ends. Then I add a tiny bit of water and some hair spray to make my hair extra grippy, toss it up, and add a few bobby pins. Done.
- This song + video for Enneagram Type Ones. I’ve never felt so known by a song before, and I definitely ugly cried my way through it multiple times. Sleeping at Last is releasing songs for each type; stay up to date with them here.
- Watching Selah “read” books. She has started to memorize/read the pictures of her repetitive books, and it makes my heart explode every time. I hope she becomes a devoted reader like her mama! (She’s already my twin in looks, stubbornness, and thrill-seeking tendencies. See above.)
What I Read
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. In a word, stunning. See also: breathtaking, honest, true, crushing, unflinching, beautiful. In this book, Austin Channing Brown tells her story of growing up as a black woman in middle-class white circles as a means of exposing the ugliness of white privilege. She focuses largely on surface-level attempts at “diversity” by white organizations, especially churches and Christian nonprofits. Nothing about this book is written to comfort white people, which is exactly how it should be. I read this looking to be challenged, and it wrecked me. I don’t think I’d recommend this one as a first foray into racial injustice and white privilege—for that, I recommend The New Jim Crow, Just Mercy, or Small Great Things. While this book is approachable in its length and beautiful prose, if you’re not prepared to believe her when she tells her story, wait until you are. But I’d still consider this a must-read for every white person who wants to be an ally in the fight for racial justice. 5 stars.
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. This is actually the only Stephen King book I’ve ever read. I love dark story lines, but I can’t do horror. Even not having read any of his other work, I can see that King is quite the storyteller and easily one of the most prolific writers of our day. I didn’t love the first 100 pages of this book (a rambling memoir), but I devoured the rest of it (focused on the craft of writing). It was exactly the kick in the pants I needed to pull out of a creativity slump. It reminded me that I’m not a writer because I think about writing; I’m a writer because I devote my extra time to it, even when the cracks are tiny. While he is writing primarily to fiction authors in this book, it is widely applicable to nonfiction writers too. 4 stars.
- The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. It was . . . fine, I guess. This is book 5 in a 13-book (so far) series, and fine just isn’t enough for me to keep going. I’m not mad that I spent time reading each book; I just don’t want to devote any more time to a very lengthy series. I like Inspector Gamache as a main character, but I couldn’t care less about everyone else in this picturesque town that happens to have a pretty obvious murder problem. I prefer my murder mysteries to be a bit darker and faster paced. 3 stars.