Heart in the Hinge

For the past three years I haven’t been writing, because I’ve been preaching. Sunday mornings. Church. Choir. Communion. Gay-friendly church stuff, because I’m gay, so it has to be gay-friendly, or I can’t show up.

The best part of being a pastor is the kids. Little kids running around like holy terrors in angel costumes at christmastide, and big kids asking hard questions like: Why should I be a Christian? Those people hate trans people and brown people and I am literally both. I love the kids.

I LOVED the kids…past tense, because I quit my job, which is why I’m back here. I’m back on this blog only to discover that – surprise! – no one blogs anymore. I guess we binge Netflix, drink cheap liquor and put our therapist on auto-pay. Or maybe that’s just me.

I’m a ex-pastor mom to two kids right now: our sassy, precocious first-grader (via open adoption), and a sassy, precocious toddler (via foster care).

Foster Care.

OH MY GOD.

Really, Oh My God. I hope She knows what is happening, because no else has a clue.

Becoming a foster parent required ripping my pulpy heart from my chest and nailing it to the wall….no, to the family bulletin board with the school lunch menu, expired pizza coupons and last month’s grocery list, so that I pass it every morning and wonder: what is that HOT MESS doing outside my chest, and will I ever get it back?

I already know that I won’t. My heart won’t ever fit back into that hollow cavity I carry around with me.

I know that already, but I pretend otherwise because that’s what motherhood is all about….holding it all together. You hold it all together, even if all you’ve got are dried-out junk drawer glue sticks and rubber bands thieved from egg cartons brought home from the grocery.

I’m Old

I turned 44 last year, and realized my life was half over. (I don’t really want to live past 88. So I’m half done.)

WOO HOO! Half-way done. Go me!!

I took myself on a birthday retreat, because that’s what you do when you’re middle-aged and parenting small children: you justify your escape with a fancy, therapist-approved permission slip. If “retreat” seems like it could be a word for running away, sending the troops skedaddling in the opposite direction (as in “fall back! retreat!”) that’s because it is….retreat is the last ditch attempt to save your skin before parenthood completely annihilates you.

Anyway, on my retreat I realized that I’m in the hinge: at 44, I’m in the middle part of my life between the door that’s swung open and the one that swings shut.

What does that mean for my karma? (Am I allowed to be a Christian minister and publicly talk about karma? I’m pretty sure in Trump’s America, that’s a big fat YES.) I’ve got just this second half left to make up for all the mistakes and omissions of the first half of my life. I better get BUSY!

But….oof. I’m tired. My body is – shockingly – also 44 years old. My eyesight is worse. My knees ache. My right foot has this thing that HURTS, and if I wasn’t so busy going to the dentist before my health insurance expires, I’d have it looked at. Hot Mess and a side of fries, that’s me.

Yet here are these kids. My whole heart. The reason I get up in the morning. To feed them. To negotiate all the reasons they can’t – won’t – dress themselves. To remember their glasses. Homework. Parent teacher conference forms. Lunch boxes. Hats, gloves, coats, boots. Matching socks? Please. Socks – of any kind – are extra. I’m not that kind of mom.

I’m the kind of mom whose heart makes a steady drip-drip sound from its place on the bulletin board. That heart, half-way done, still beating. It’s the only one I’ve got, and I don’t need it back.