Jesica Swanson: Linger

photo-1421906375741-f6bda4abe433As November rolls in with the speed of a freight train I am already feeling overwhelmed. My mind and heart are in conflict. I want to be everywhere, for every one, while simultaneously hiding away like the true hermit I am

I want to feel the joy of gratitude, the holiness of coming to the table for a meal. I want to have time for what the Greeks called “eucharisteo” – to actively express thankfulness. Isn’t that the point of Thanksgiving?  A moment in time, designed to remind us to stop, to collectively take note in the chaos and come to the table. It’s almost like communion for all of America when we choose to point that thankfulness to heaven. It reminds us to breathe and give thanks, to linger in a spirit of gratitude.

A couple months ago I decided to throw out an initiation to some of my favorite women. I dubbed it a lazy girls night in. I threw some food in the crock-pot. People could come and go as they pleased. They could bring something to share, or not. It was merely a place to gather. Though I would have been content had no one been able to make it (introvert alert), I was so happy when people actually showed up.

We ate. We laughed. We visited. Some people left and some people lingered.

Of all the beautiful things my friend Samantha has taught me, perhaps lingering is one of the best. I am not a natural lingerer. I long for it, but my uptight, highly sensing self is always preoccupied. I think, “Am I overstaying my welcome? Should I leave now? I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to be “that friend” that doesn’t know when to take a hint and head home.” But, when I watch Samantha, she never over stays her welcome, she never is a burden, but she lingers like a boss. She lingers well because she values quality time. She listens to people. She makes time for people.

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Maybe, I am starting to finally get it that the best stuff happens in the lingering. It is when the walls break down a little bit or the unrestrained laughter bursts forth. Perhaps, it’s because everyone is tired or because being in a room with only a handful of people breed’s safety. If you’ve stuck around to linger, it’s probably because of a genuine affection for the people left in the building.

That night at my house some cried, some listened, words of empathy came forward. Grace and encouragement flowed freely. No pat answers were given or problems solved, but in the lingering sisterhood forms. That night it was in my living room, but I’ve experienced the power of the linger in a parked car on a Monday night, around a bonfire, and after a MOPS night out. Every moment spent with someone is “money in the bank”* of your friendship, but the lingering seems to bring a more substantial deposit to the relationship.

As things get crazy and I feel that tug to be everywhere all the time, I am trying to hit pause this season. I’m trying to linger at the table with my God and with the people that I love the most. For some, those loved ones may be family, but for others who live further from relatives, it may be the friends that have become family. I want to make sure I am leaving margin in my life for the after party, because everyone truly knows that the after party is where it’s at. So, if you want to linger, come and linger with me. I have a special place in my heart for the lingerers.

*It was Shauna Niequist, at MomCon 2014, who taught me about “money in the bank”.

 

JesicaJesica Swanson is wife to Norse and mother to Boden & Isley. She’s a big fan of marriage, wholehearted friendships, and loud laughter. While still trying to figure out her marketable skill set, she spends her time goofing off in Montana and writing candidly about spiritual life, marriage, motherhood, fun books and music, and whatever else pops into her head at http://www.atleastwecanlaugh.com .

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Who’s Got Your Back?

The other night was one of those nights. You know. Like it’s written in the stars or your fortune cookie:  your kids will misbehave today and so will youNothing works out right. It’s pure, cranky chaos.

It had been a long day and my husband was gone for the evening. I struggled through on my own. Cursing under my breath. Practicing deep breathing bCIMG0599etween screaming bouts. Matching my 10 year old snide comment for snide comment. Reacting with the same short fuse as my 5 year old and the indignation of my 8 year old. It wasn’t pretty. So as bedtime approached I made the rounds along each bed; apologizing, asking forgiveness, explaining that I’m not perfect and I know it and God help me, I’m working on it. Really, though the behavior leading up to this moment is certainly never ideal, the chance to model sincere regret and ask for forgiveness is golden. I mean, there’s got to be a flip-side, right?

Anyway, my kids usually make it so easy. They melt. The tension and bad mood that settled between their shoulder blades releases and I feel them go soft, give into my love, lean into my arms. I lean into them, smell their hair and hold on tight. This time, when I got to my daughter’s bed she took my hand, looked me in the eyes and said I just wish Papa were here. Oh, I bristled. I assumed she was referring to the classic Good Parent-Bad Parent dilemma (and we all know which side I was on). But then she explained.

It’s just that you need a Back-up Person, Mama. I just wish you could have had a Back-up Person tonight. Everyone needs a Back-up.

Then, she hugged me. She left me there, leaning over her bed, my mouth wide open in awe of the wisdom, love and empathy she showed to me in such an undeserving moment. She really nailed it this time.

Who is your Back-up Person? A husband, a partner, a mother, a best friend… It can be anyone ready to step in when you’ve had it up to here, when you are stuck in an ugly cycle and need a moment to breathe, to swim back up to the surface. It’s crucial in this mothering gig that someone has our backs. Hopefully we all have at least one person looking out for us. Ideally we have that village surrounding us with someone not only behind, but also on each side and in front of us. Let’s build that together for each other. Use MOPS this year as yet another way to have each other’s backs. Support each other, listen, encourage and laugh.

With your back covered you can face forward with confidence, go out into the world as mothers, as women, and flourish.

Ida

Ida Fischer is a Bigfork MOPS alumnus.  She is married to Maarten and mother to Sam (10), Noa (8), and Mylo (5). She enjoys everything outdoors, reading, and spending time alone to paint. You can find her blog and artwork at Ida Fischer Art and Illustration.