31 Letters to my Mother {Day 30} Peacock apologies

Dear Mom,

My house is a weird and cluttered mess of coffee cups and laundry right now.  My floors are sprinkled with dead leaves, cheerios and little people toys.  My sinks need a good ol fashioned “soft scrub” treatment and our toilets well, let’s never mind those.

Life has gotten away from me again and I have the piles of dishes and laundry to prove it.

I don’t have anything pretty or polished to show off and my eyes are purply baggy-saggy from all our recent sleepless nights of coughing and fitful dreams.

Remember when I used to come through your house in a huff?  I would strut around like a snooty peacock making snarky comments about what you were eating, wearing, watching and the state of your refrigerator.

I know that I made you feel awful about yourself and I claimed that I wasn’t doing it on purpose.

But you know what?  I think that I was. 

I think somewhere in my messed up head I thought you’d see me in all my fake perfection and want to make some healthy changes in your life.  

Yet, I know now that no one ever inspired positive change in others by rubbing it in their face.  Real, loving help comes with side by side humility and oodles of patience.

And honestly, I’m not sure that would have worked either.  Some days I’m not sure if I ever could made a difference in your overall health and then other day’s I’m certain that I could have, but went about it all wrong.

Some days I blame myself and other days I blame you.  I always blame the depression but I’m still not sure where the line is between what you could control and what was beyond you.

Yet none of it excuses the bitchy peacock treatment I so often gave you.

So for the strutting around, I’m sorry
For the talking down, I’m sorry
For the lack of love I am ever and always sorry sorry sorry.

I hope you felt loved, I hope that somehow your mother heart could see that my behavior stemmed from feelings of abandonment and confusion and not malice or hate.

It was love mom, confused, misspoken love.  I’m not sure you could have ever interpreted it that way.

Tomorrow I will sign off, our letters in this space are nearly coming to a close but I think they’ve started a conversation between us that will never end.

I love you, I miss you,

LeaRae

31 Letters to my Mother {Day 29} Dear Mom, I’m okay

 Dear Mom,

Sorry this letter is so late but today has been a furious effort to catch up after the sickness struck us.

We don’t have too many days of letters left now and I wanted to tell you not to worry about me too much, that I’m being taken care of.

There are a lot of kids without parents who truly feel like they’re on their own, but I’m not one of them.  God has sent loving people into our lives who look after us as if we’ve been in the nest from the beginning.

Also your Sisters and Dad’s Brothers & Sister look out for us, keep up with us and give us advice when we run stuck.

I also want you to know that even though I am held up by many strong and beautiful hearted women, you have never been nor will you ever be replaced.

There is a space in my heart that I honor by keeping it empty for you.  You are the only mother I’ll ever know.

Yet there are others who are helping me learn to be a mother myself, some are my peers, some were yours and some you’ve never met.

The longer I live the more I realize that family isn’t always a blood thing, quite often it’s atypical.  This atypical family love overwhelms me because I haven’t earned it and don’t feel that I’m worthy, yet still I come up loved.

So don’t worry, I have mother tutors but no other mother
The kids have Grandmas and Grandpas but none that will replace all that I’ll tell them you were.

I love you, I miss you,

LeaRae

31 Letters to my Mother {Day 28} Mamas and Costumes

Me as Raggedy Ann and you as an Angel, complete with Christmas garland Halo. Can we talk about that wallpaper yet?

Dear Mom,

First off I hope you didn’t mind Kel writing on my behalf yesterday, I was way too sick to be upright.  The fever has passed now though and I’m doing so much better.

So the more I sort through memories the more I realize that I got out of bed at night, A LOT.

That being said I remember one October evening, when I was pretty young, that you stayed up late, determined to sew me a clown costume for halloween.  I think the part that hung you up the most was the full, gathered neck ruffle.

When I snuck up behind you, you seemed frustrated about the whole ordeal.  Yet still, one way or another you figured it out because like it or not, I was a clown that year.

And Laura was a clown a few years later so it was well sewn enough to weather multiple halloween seasons of crazy Verkaik children.

Now here I am, the mama bent over the sewing machine, pinning and cussing under my breath, determined to bring my ideas to reality, then take that reality and dress my child up in it for all the world to see.

I ache unspeakable when I think about all that we lost somewhere between that October evening and the one about 25 years later when you passed.

Because I know you started out with gusto, motivation, a drive to love your kids with warm muffins and homemade costumes.  Thanks for being “that mom” as long as you could, armed with a sewing machine and unbreakable determination.

The kids are going as a Kitty and an Elephant this year, I’m still trying to figure it all out but I’m sure a few night out I’ll be thinking of you while I’m bent over the sewing machine in the wee hours.

I love you, I miss you

LeaRae

31 Letters to my Mother (in law) {Day 27} Hi, it’s Kel

 Dear Mom-in-law,

Hey!  Its Kel.  I’m writing today because Leanne is still feeling pretty bad.  I thought I’d write you tonight and talk about something that Leanne can’t really talk about here.  I thought I’d let you know how she’s growing as a person.  Its been two years now and let me tell you, life has been full of challenges, joys, and more surprises that we ever thought would possible.  Over the last two years Leanne has been going through the grief process, this is true, but she has also gone from working to being a stay at home mom.  She’s gone from a mom of one to a mom of two under 2 and now a mom of a 3 year old and an almost 2 year old.  She’s gone from tossing around the idea of being a nutritionist to working on and becoming a writer.  All that to say there has been a great deal of life going on while we’ve been dealing with all the grief.

The thing that I really wanted to speak to more than anything else though is Leanne’s growth as a woman of God.  Leanne’s faith was definitely shaken throughout these last two years.  Who’s wouldn’t be? Yet, this shaken faith, this brokenness is not where Leanne has chosen to live.  Leanne is a fighter and as you know, when she sets her mind to something there’s nothing that is going to stop her. She’s chosen to live this faith, even though it hurts tremendously.  She’s chosen to trust and have faith even though it was one of the hardest choices of her life.  And now, here we are two years later.  I’ve been going through some crisis of my own as of late and guess who has been supporting me?  The other day I was having a really hard day and Leanne could sense it in my demeanor so she started speaking encouragement and scripture into my day.  I can’t even begin to tell you how great it is to be married to a woman like that.  It makes my life as a pastor so much easier when I’m able to know that when I have problems that I have a partner in faith.

Well that’s about it. I just wanted to write to you and brag on Leanne a little.  She really is an incredibly woman.  I know that her writing these letters has really been great for you & your daughter’s relationship.  I pray that as these 31 days come to a close that this healing with continue.  You have a great daughter and as I look to the future keeping in mind all of this spiritual growth, I know that Leanne is going to do some absolutely amazing things in life.

With Love,

Kel

31 Letters to my Mother {Day 26} Mumma, I’m siiiiiiick

 Dear Mumma,

I’m sick.  And not the pretend kind I was as a kid but the real, achey, fevery, can’t sit upright kind.

Remember when you told me that I would eventually have to suck it up when I’m sick to survive in the adult world?

I do that, I do that a lot.  Probably more than I should.

It’s an amazing challenge being a sick mom, because for the most part little kids don’t care how you’re feeling.  It’s truly unfair, not only is there no one to take care of you, you actually have to take care of others too.

Cruel.

Although I have a posse taking care of me today.  Kel is a huge help, even though he didn’t sleep himself last night. Then there is the cat who always has his eye on me.  He even follows me to the bathroom.

Then there’s Noelle who wants to help in mom-care department. She brings me water with a straw and rubs my face while I try to sleep.  She also insists that I play with a little cat jingle bell, she thinks that will help.

It does make me laugh, so I guess it can’t hurt. We play kitty 27 hours a day right now, it’s pretty amazing. She looks so grown up Mom, you’d be amazed.

I wish you could come make me homemade chicken soup.  I wouldn’t even give you crap about using both dark and white meat, I’m over it.

I’m sorry I was such a snot about being sick when I was a kid, I get it now, life does not revolve around me.

Although today it sort of seems to revolve around my limitations, which are many.  I can’t believe I managed to write you with a fever of 102.  See, I told you… I’m a Bad A*# now.

Okay I can’t stand to be vertical any longer, plus the cat keeps trying to drink my sprite and Noelle is running around without panties.

Love you, miss you Mumma.

LeaRae

31 Letters to my Mother {Day 25} Silliness and Dancing Mummys

Dear Mom,

Well I’m sick, I feel like a puddle on the floor. Still the duties of motherhood beckon.  So I get up and warm the milk, change the diapers, cover bodies with blankets and simmer oats.

I’d really like to crawl in bed and sleep for a few days or at least read a book and drink tea without interruption.

In addition being physically sick, Kel and I have being going through some seriously discouraging and trying times on another front.  It seems as though every day brings another string of discouragement and demands an extra measure of perseverance. Continue reading

31 Letters to my Mother {Day 24} Hymns and Spearmint Gum

 Dear Mom,

It’s really early, 4:45 AM actually.  The kids are both sick, although Noelle is the only one running a fever.

I have some soft, instrumental hymns playing in the background as the tea kettle starts to whistle over my shoulder.

“Be still my soul: The Lord is on your side.  Bear patiently the cross of grief, or pain.”

“Did e’r such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?”

“Then sings my soul, my savior God to thee, how great thou art!”

“Great is thy faithfulness, Oh God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with thee, thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not…”

You know what’s funny about Hymns?  They almost always take me back to Baldwin Street CRC, the evening service when Dad had run out of peppermint Mentos to keep me quiet. Continue reading

31 Letters to my Mother {Day 23} Anxiety-ectomy

This is your daughter, on anxiety. Get the picture?

Dear Mom,

I usually get a hearty take home when I drive back from church.  It may be for spiritual discipline, my marriage or parenting, it varies.

This week’s lesson stung, acutely accurate and painful.  I was hit over the head by all my anxiety for the future and my low level of trust in God as provider.  All this worry, this heart that’s empty of trust, well it’s a sin Mom, and God hates what it’s doing to me.

I always used genes as an excuse, but no longer.  It’s causing me pain and loneliness and it’s driving a wedge between me and God. Continue reading

Letters to my Mother {Day 22} So, I’m a writer

This is my work uniform, pretty nice, eh?

Dear Mom,

I know I started off college majoring in Political Science, and then I briefly considered interior design, then I told you I was going to bible college in New Zealand. As you recall, I eventually graduated from Kuyper College with a degree in Youth Ministry.

So it turns out what I really am, is a writer, and maybe a speaker.  Although don’t worry that pricey college degree from Kuyper is coming in handy, I promise. Continue reading

Letters to my Mother (Day 21) rest

My turn to be someone’s safe place

Dear Mom,

When I was little and afraid I would curl up in the softness of your faded flannel nightgowns. I remember resting my head on your warm lap that smelled like the safety of you.

You would rub my hair, sing “you are my sunshine” and all felt gauzy yellow, softly safe.

I’m exhausted and you’re gone. Life has been emotionally draining lately. So much life and no time to sort thought it all. Continue reading