On May 5, 2000, a Friday, I walked out of my full-time job as a hair designer with a plan in place. And this is where it Always goes wrong.
I’d attend the baby shower of my cousin the following day and return for work on Tuesday. My own baby would be born in the next two weeks after which I’d take a reasonable six to 10 weeks off, figure out childcare and return to work full-time.
Hell-bent on creating a place for myself in my hometown, I’d be successful wife, mother, and future business owner, get back behind my chair as soon as possible and life was going to take on the fullness, the contentment that I’d always dreamed it would. Someday.
Do you know the Someday I’m talking about?
Someday when I finished college.
Someday a few weeks after my final semester when I’d be married.
Someday when I finally figured out what kind of work I wanted to pursue after my Elementary Ed Degree.
Someday when I finished Beauty College in six months instead of 10.
Someday when my salon appointment book was scheduled six weeks in advance.
Someday when I got pregnant.
Someday when I got pregnant again and had a baby to show for it this time.
Someday when that baby was born. And it was about then that the shit hit the fan.
I remember looking at him and wondering why I didn’t feel all the stuff they told me I would. They told me I’d want to jump in front of a truck for him. And I didn’t. They told me I would figure it out. And I was sure that figuring it out didn’t mean wondering why they were insisting I take him home.
There’s a quote by someone who was famous for something, only I can’t remember who or what. She said the decision to have a child was like forever walking around with your heart stuck to your arm, or outside your body, or something slightly more poetic than that.
When my son was born, though, I didn’t have that epiphany or magical transformation. I didn’t look at him and feel a fierce protection. My heart did not feel like it was hanging outside my chest for the intense love injected upon his arrival. Instead, I was finally beginning to realize that I was disconnected from my heart. It would be years before I understood why and what to do about it.
I felt like I’d exited my body and was watching a scared little girl take her cues from everyone else in the room. She was going through the motions but not healthy enough to be truly emotionally present for any of it.
Looking back, I realize, it was like I had just been born myself. I felt like a newborn, just five seconds older, or younger, than my baby, and not in a boy do I feel like a new person, motherhood rocks, this being a mother, being born again, is one of the best thing that’s happened to me.
Nope. It was a little more like, these lights are blinding me, turn down the heat it’s 60 degrees outside, I might suffocate. If I could , I’d roll into the fetal position, let them know I’m not ok, but people keep coming in to look and they keep handing me this wailing 8 lb floppy kid who wants to bite me all the time, why isn’t anyone asking me if I’m ok. I can’t figure this out, I need to sleep, I am not ok, can these people just go home now. At the time, I didn’t know myself enough to express these things, but I’d love to go back and fiercely protect my new-mama self that day.
Forty-eight hours later, the nurse brought a fruit and cheese plate for dinner before giving me the boot. Time to go home, you’ll figure this out. If there’s anything I’ve done often in life, it was figure it out.
I was going to return to work full-time after a few weeks off. You know, do and be it all. In the fall though, I decided only to go back part-time. Motherhood wasn’t going the way I’d imagined but something in me knew that I’d find missing pieces of myself as I learned how to love my children.
It’s important for me to explain how I entered motherhood for you to understand how Joy has impacted my life. How she unexpectedly rolled in in the most unassuming manner and did so with no agenda. How in one simple connection she would add a level of safety to my world that I didn’t know I was missing.
Joy worked with my husband and we sat together one year at a Christmas party but other than that, I didn’t know her very well. I’d always get senses about people though, to a degree that can be overwhelming, but I felt completely comfortable with leaving my son with her. When my husband talked to her about babysitting, she told him she’d been hoping he’d ask.
Bob Goff wrote a book called Love Does. The idea is that you can intend to love all you want. You can feel an overwhelming intensity of love for another person, but until you actually do something, they can’t experience or feel your love. Love does something and so did Joy. Joy’s a giver, at times to her own detriment, but she never, ever attached strings to her gifts.
At a time in my life when I needed a mother, a sister, and a friend, Joy slowly walked in and became all three While I’ve been thankful for her from the first day, it’s only recently that I’ve been able to fully appreciate just how much she’s given me..
Joy showed up at my door every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon to take a crying, hungry baby from my arms. Sometimes she brought a coke.
Joy washed my sink full of dirty dishes.
Joy played outside with my baby.
Joy bought a car seat so she could take him places.
Joy brought my him to the hospital when my daughter was born.
Joy said Sure and kept coming when there were two babies.
Joy called them her babies.
Joy took pictures of my kids and printed doubles for me. Joy came at 4 am to stay with my son when my daughter had emergency surgery.
Joy said, are you kidding, when I asked if she’d be willing to add a third Holder baby to her list of loves.
Joy’s the one who knows where to find beaters for the mixer and how to run my washer. She steps in and does what needs to be done so quietly, you can easily miss it but do not misunderstand me, she can be fierce when people cross those she loves.
Joy loves with every last ounce of joyness possible, always with a smile and always without expectation. There have been so many times when I have not loved and appreciated her in return as I should.
I believe Joy’s connection in our lives is a Divine one. God knew how hard the road was going to be for me. He knew that for a very long time, I would crawl more than I walked, and he sent someone to crawl with me.
God has a book for each one of us. He understands our personalities and knows his hopes and dreams for our lives. It’s our job to learn to listen though, to follow the path set in front of us and walk through the doors we come upon, even if their stuck shut. Joy has traveled this journey with me. Her book has my name in it, and my book has hers.
This has been the story of a sister named Joy. One for which I am deeply, profoundly, thankful. Love you Joy!
I’m having fun sharing my Joy stories with you. Next week, I’ll wrap up my Joystories with the December day that Joy choose me.
It’s one of the best things ever when I get a little message in my inbox telling me someone has chosen to be added to my email list! If you don’t receive these posts regularly, consider joining the list? Click the email icon below. Thanks so much!