Trust The Momma



Dear Duck & Chick,


We’ll probably look back on this year fondly. I hope. Perhaps we’ll cringe. But if this messy math of mine works out, we’ll certainly come out on the other side of this year changed. I KNOW I WILL. After 8 years of swearing I was happily retired, I went back to work. Was this my wisest decision in the midst of grieving and helping the grieving and being present for the grieving? Hard to say, so as we do in such cases, we make it up as we go along:

As your dedicated historian, here’s what REALLY happened (because as we know, The Momma’s version is the one which counts…look it up): Matt died. I came rather unglued. 2 of the primary witnesses to my childhood disappeared (long story, one literal and one figurative). With too much time on my hands, I began to worry the narrative I’d spun about the brave survivors of Muncie circa 1985 was only relatively true. One should not pick friends based on estimated life span, but in all seriousness, think about choosing a bell curve if you can. Scrappy Survivor does not always equate to long life, this much I’ve learned.


Art and Quote Courtesy of Brian Andreas, Creator of “Story People”

And then your Father asked me to grab some gum, and Kelly made a laundry list of items she needed for project…like right now, Momma. NOW, you’re going to think I must be half out of my mind to generalize your Daddy asking for a Costco run and Kelly creating a needlessly expensive project were VALID reasons for me going back to work…but remember: this is HISTORY, not REALITY. In the midst of Daddy having this “gum-scarcity-crisis”, I received a job offer for a really intriguing part-time, part-year job I’ve wanted for 22 years (not an exaggeration…this was my plot’s destiny). BUT NO, I DECLARED! I’m happily retired, helping people…buying that gum. And the 18 different candies on Kelly’s shopping list so she can create a cake that looks like the innards of a cell.

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Then we lost our friend, Denver, and she was 28, and doing such amazing things for our city. This isn’t OK on any narrative.

There I was, thinking life is so unfair in its dispersion of life spans, and well? Maybe I should be doing more than buying gum and crying about it all. Maybe I should get back in the game.

I know I’ve threatened to go back to work (’bout a million times) when you refuse to clean or get a case of the sassy-pants. I know you’ll probably look back and think I went back to work to make good on that threat. I’d love to think I was that strong (or brilliant enough to have kept it a secret until a night when you complained about dinner): “REALLY?! You don’t LIKE ratatouille?! FINE! I’m going back to work!! TOMORROW!” And you’d roll your eyes and laugh…and then at 7 am I’d put on a suit, grab my briefcase, and say, “This chef has left the kitchen!” But the truth is I really, really liked being present for you three.


My People

For a long time, it was a good fit for us. Darn you life, changing all the time. After some seriously hard thinking (like, serious guys…I got headaches praying about this), I realized you needed pushed out of the nest. You needed a deeper relationship with your father. I had become the central force in our Universe, and began to joke the 3 of you stopped breathing when I left the house. Then it hit me: what if I stopped breathing?

I couldn’t do that to you; this leaving you with no skills. The hard truth is as long as I stayed at the house, you guys weren’t budging. I tried several weekends of being a disgruntled Officer, belting out orders. I don’t want to be that Mom, so maybe it would be best if I let you learn how to do it your own way.

Many friends stop me in the school hallways, call, write…”SOOOO, how is it going?!”, with that expectant smile that I’m “Lori’ing the whole thing up”. I’m taking this new challenge and spinning sunshine! It’s SO GREAT! PHENOMENAL! Being a working Mom is so much better than I anticipated!


Sara made her own snacks for Girl Scouts! (See those tiny sprinkles? Let’s call those “my new floor decor”.)

Are you laughing yet? You should be laughing. Because no woman on earth can work this equation to perfection. You balance it, but it’s never actually in balance. Seriously…look away. From my floors. Which haven’t been mopped in weeks. If I do stop breathing tomorrow, the autopsy will show I’m made of coffee and Big Macs. I’ve taken the soda habit back up, and now I have a cavity. I think my hair is falling out. Either that, or I haven’t had time to clean up cat hair. Daddy has been an absolute champ (he loves a challenge!), but girls? You are a hot mess. For starters, I let you take over hair care, which means you now have missing chunks where I’ve had to cut out rat’s nests. Laundry? Don’t get me started. Rooms? I haven’t gone near them in weeks for safety reasons. And I’m not going to even mention your attitudes. THEY STINK. There. I said it. You two have been as supportive as a 10 year old sports bra.


They need a sign which reads, “Can be bribed with cake pops”.

Are you still waiting for the good part? Good for you! My positivity partners! It has felt like a rush of fresh air to have an office, a title, a little income, and a parking space; not because of ego, but because of identity. Having a job means I get up with a clear purpose…and move aside world, I have THINGS TO DO! (Oh Dear Lord, I have so much to do.) It’s my world’s greatest honor to have been blessed with a family, but sometimes one needs to dust off the skill set and grow a bit. It’s been hard, but I’m pushing through to find some answers for myself…and that’s a good thing. And the wish I wanted most has come true: you and Daddy have “your own thing”. That “thing” involves a disgusting menu of things like “scrambled pasta”, but it’s ALL YOU. You have “your way” of doing things when Mommy is gone, and from the outside, it looks like happy-dipped in-happy. There was that challenging moment when I had to point out 2 little girls had not changed underwear in a week, but luckily Daddy is a fast learner (loving his military-mornings when he belts out, “GIRLS! TIME TO GET UP! THIS DAY WILL INCLUDE CLEAN UNDERWEAR!!”).


These two. SO alike in so many wonderful ways. Daddy gave her his best genes.

And there’s the job: working with Indiana’s best college students in a program so rich in legacy, it makes me want to stand from the mountain top and sing out praises for my great state. Wait. HOLD THE PHONES. We don’t have any mountains. I am going to find a small hill and SING IT OUT WORLD! INDIANA ROCKS! This program changed my life in 1994, and spending time helping others experience the same magic is worth a few challenging months. I hope to know these young women forever, because just witnessing their journey is making me braver.

Looking back, many years from now, you may be tempted to ask, “So Momma, let me see if we get this straight: 3 friends you’ve barely seen since 1994 either died or disappeared, and Daddy asked you to buy some gum, and that brought on an identity crisis so large you decided change the entire course of your life and go back to work?”

MAYBE. Or maybe you didn’t put away those board games scattered all over my house after I asked three times. We may never know.


Their Ubongo games can best be described as “perpetual”.

Kidding. The chance of a lifetime came my way when I needed it most, and perhaps when you needed it most, and I jumped at it. Analyzing is fine, but life is short, my sweets. When your ship comes in, get on it. WAIT. TERRIBLE ANALOGY: we don’t have deep water in Indiana! Let’s try this: when the harvest time comes, you gotta bring in the crops. Baby’s gotta eat. Crap, that doesn’t work at all. Indiana…we have the Race, nice people, great pie…but terrible topography analogies.

Wisdom Comes Suddenly.

See you after the Race (100th Running in 89 days, 21 Hours, and 42 minutes),





4 responses to “Trust The Momma”

  1. Oh Lori – I love witnessing your life’s story as it unfolds year after year and the words you choose to tell it. I love where God is leading you and the lives you are touching and enriching in the process. Thank you for saying YES when your heart tells you to — the choices you make have a way of coming out as wisdoms and hopes for all of us cheering you on. Please make sure you have time to write! We need your words because no one can say it like you. Love you, sister.

  2. Thank you Rachel! You have always been such a cherished cheerleader. Good heavens…this is a NEW world baby!!!

  3. Glad to have you back in the game, dear friend! You are already rocking at it, I just know it, just anything you put your mind and energy to!
    Good luck and please let me know when we are doing coffee (or margaritas!)
    Love you and am always here for you!!!

  4. Sounds similar to me going back to teaching after 8 years of being a SAHM. I’m glad you are loving it!