in the middle of a cornfield
I live in the middle of a cornfield, and I feel small. I look out my window. There is a sky that swallows me whole. The trees raise boney arms and the clouds stretch farther than I can see. The sun colors the air like sun tea just beginning to brew.
Small didn’t used to feel forlorn. Many harvests ago, there was a scorching afternoon when I stood in the backyard of our just-purchased home. We left the bank, the paperwork all signed, and Andy returned to work. I had no where to go. It was summer; school was out.
I stood alone in the backyard. It was empty, but my head was full of magnificent dreams. It was hard to breathe deep because of the deep summer afternoon and the corn tall at attention making the air stuffy to breathe. Still, my head was in the clouds and the dreams were soaring, one thread looped on top of another.
Back then, I was young with courage to dream. There was hope and potential.
It’s been nearly ten years since a wise man gave Andy and me the following advice in response to parenting Stephanie: batten down the hatches.
It’s an old naval term, originating in the late 1800s and meant to prepare for trouble, usually because a mighty storm was brewing.
Batten down the hatches, he advised.
He was a gifted therapist who specialized in helping adolescents overcome childhood trauma. He had years of experience and worked with extreme situations. He was earnest when he said batten down the hatches. Stephanie was extreme; he recognized it within minutes of our first meeting.
It was spot-on the right advice. Andy and I firmed our anchors. We battened down the hatches over our small family. We did our best to respond in love as Stephanie’s behavior raged and chaos stormed. We held on to our faith with white-knuckles.
We were determined to be wholly present in the small, ordinary moments of daily life. We sought sweet magic in family life. We held tight to our core belief of fun, and I was surprised by our resolve for joy and celebration. It was unwavering. We held on to hope with white-knuckles.
At the same time, my panache for grandiose dreams waned. Now, with hindsight, I see I should have grabbed hold of the dreamer and yanked her undercover. I could have tucked her in the back corner of my soul. Instead, she is battered and torn from the unrelenting storm.
I’m spending time in the backyard where impossible dreams swirl like they are being called home. I throw a frisbee for a puppy I love more than I should, and I swing my arms wide. I close my eyes and feel the morning sun on my face. I stand in the backyard, in the middle of a cornfield, with light the color of sun tea just beginning to brew, and I welcome the once-evicted dreamer to return to her residence in my heart.
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