Saturday, August 31, 2013

so helpful.

Since I shared my twins news, most have been supportive and excited. Some have understood my anxiety. A few have said really annoying, strange, irrelevant, or unhelpful things. I found it therapeutic to compile these comments as one big list. Together, they are funny and easy to deflect.
  1. I know a lady who had twins. One of them died.
  2. How do you really know there are two? I mean, maybe you're just really big.
  3. So you're going to quit your job, right? Because working at a church while they're little wouldn't be fair to anyone.
  4. Oh. I didn't know you guys were having fertility issues.
  5. It'll be easy because you have family in town. My sister didn't.
  6. Is it possible for one of them to come out fine and the other one to get into trouble in there? Because I was watching a TV show about baby eagles the other day and that's what happened to them.
  7. Better soak up every moment you've got left with just Jasper!
  8. Well, you won't be able to breastfeed. That would be crazy.
  9. This is so typical of female pastors.
  10. Sleep while you can!
  11. Wow. And Jasper's not potty trained yet? He's totally going to regress when they're born.
  12. Are you going to keep your job? (x10) Then I try to decide whether I'm going to launch into a feminist tirade about how no one is asking Matt if he's going to quit his job.
I'm just lucky that my closest friends and family don't say this stuff. And my congregation is wildly supportive. In fact, most of the people expressing their unhelpful opinions don't know me all that well. 

And that is the grace that makes deflecting this stuff easy.

The best ways to steer clear of the Unhelpful List? Just laugh with me. Help me carve out space for these vocations to figure each other out, like bumper boats, for awhile. Lie to me about how fabulous I look, but shoot me straight when I really next an eyebrow wax or a new shirt that is not made of Lycra. Leave a oven-ready meal on my front steps in late February. Be very good to the moms you know well. And be kind to moms you barely know, who have not asked for your two cents about their uterus and career and parenting plans.

Because they just might have a list floating around out there, too.  ;-)

Monday, August 19, 2013


The ultrasound technician said that most people are surprised when she tells them they're having twins. And, at the very least, she gets to tell them they're having twins.

I show up looking for them on the screen.

My mom is a twin. We have lots of sets in my extended family tree and I'm one of few siblings and cousins in my generation who has publicly stated that twins are too much. Don't get me wrong - being one looks awesome - but having one baby three years ago put me through the ringer and changed the whole fabric of my being. I'm too neurotic for the two-for-one special. And so I've always been wishing it on my brothers and cousins instead.

"Don't be so dramatic." Those were Matt's last words before I left for the appointment last month. He'd seen me scoping for twins early in our last pregnancy. He got embarrassed when I asked if one could be synchronized swimming behind the Jasper-fetus we could see on the monitor.

"I see two sacks. I see two beans. One is moving. Holy shit. Is the other one moving? Do they both have heartbeats? I'm having twins - am I having twins? Oh, this is happening. There are two! You see them, too, right?" Of course she sees them, you nerd. She's an ultrasound technician. If you can see them, she can see them.

And then I started heave-crying. Awkwardly. In front of the male intern who had (clearly) never met an external processor like me. I got sweaty and I kept covering my face and then looking back again. My hands were clammy and shaking. Then the tears turned to laughter...

because this is how it always starts.

Here's the thing: I have amazing plans for my life. It's a well known fact that oldest children and Type A women have awesome ideas and our anxious meddling and organization gets dreams done.  I do my best to sport a casually chaotic facade while frantically trying to control everything behind the magic curtain. It's exhausting and there are only a few rewards: de-cluttered junk drawers, an addiction to Candy Crush, and a toddler who cleans the sand off the slide at school. Oh. And general self-righteousness.

Women like me take risks, but they are very calculated, researched risks. God usually takes a look at my risks and laughs because they are not risks at all - they're just plain Living. And just when I think I have my ducks in a row behind the curtain, I wander into one of those you're-having-twins moments.

The bad news: I don't seem to get any less neurotic as time goes on. I've put up a good fight and been terrified and convinced myself I can't do it every time those frightened tears turn to laughter. Through every holy twist and turn, I'm still afraid of the ways I will unravel and fall apart, the people I'll fail and the grief of saying goodbye to my own plan (which - again - is always awesome).

The good news: I'm growing two people and that's pretty bad ass. I only know bad ass moms of multiples, so now I'm in good company. The babes are healthy. There are months to get used to this idea. I am fertile and grateful. I have a supportive husband and an amazing son. I have a job that will be hard to do with all this change, but they're willing to ebb and flow with my scrappy little family. We moved into a new house and have a bedroom for them. Our village will help.

And my self-righteous good news: Told ya so, Matt.

Like every holy twist and turn I've weathered so far, I'll again discover the beauty in real risk. I'll leave the desk behind the magic curtain un-manned more often and that will be a good thing. I will be revealed - more vulnerable and softened by the love growing in me and around me. Because every time God has thrown me up on the beach and pointed to Nineveh, it's been a really great great that I forget about my awesome idea that wasn't really that awesome after all.  So great that I realize I made up all that bad news.

And then there is only good in the twists and turns.
There is only laughter.

Baby Carlsons are due in early February!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


There is an old factory by my house. I thought it was abandoned long ago, but yesterday I spotted a man sitting by a window eating out of his lunchbox. There was another man on a bucket by the backdoor holding a sandwich. Something is happening in there. Every day. I studied the paint and brick chipping away around them. I wondered about the things they create and craft - the things they have to show for this one wild and precious life.

Still waiting at the red light, I looked around at the contents of my car. Jasper's dirty socks from months ago and a paper shell he decorated with glitter at daycare. Crumbs from cheese crackers and empty bottles of water. A hymnal. A home communion case. A heavy catalog of statuary and altar cloths. A list of home visits and pastoral calls to make. A make up bag. A pile of gym clothes with poor self-esteem, bitter and ignored, covered in reusable grocery bags and receipts.

The light turned green and I watched the man on the bucket put the last bite of sandwich in his mouth. His hand held his back for a moment, stretching and cracking and creaking a bit before straightening out again and disappearing into the dark hallway. He would use the next few hours to make and mold, to collaborate and build for the sake of many. And watching him was like seeing and feeling Mercy.

God, you call us to do good and hard things. In doing these things, we break and bend. Life gets messy and we create things seen and unseen. Weave our work together with your will so that there is holy purpose and mercy in our midst. Get tangled up in all our vocations, all our places, and all our dreams. And when bricks crumble and crumbs build up, give us the green light to keep going somewhere we can be of good use. Amen.