Clare Saumell VanderWeele

essays on living

Category: Life (page 2 of 2)

Ode to the Worn Out Days

You know the ones I’m talking about. At least, I hope you do.

The nights that feel overwhelming, the busy weeks that leaving us scrambling.

The nights the couch calls our name so loudly we can almost hear it. Oh wait, that just the four-year-old, scream-singing our name from his bed, two hours after bedtime.

The nights we don’t feel like cooking, so we take the four-year-old out to dinner. Only to remember that four-year-olds don’t do well in restaurants that don’t have play-places or where there’s other people who are trying to eat in peace.

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The Greatness of Small Things

This blog was born out of big things. Specifically, one big giant thing that enveloped lots of smaller big things.

It’s coming up on three years since I first choked on the word “widow;” since I saw with my own eyes how grief overshadows everything.

C. S. Lewis wrote in the wake of his wife’s death, “Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”

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What Happened When I Stopped Running Away

I was one of those lethargic teenagers who groaned when we had to run the mile once a year at school. I ran the straights and walked the curves, simultaneously intimidated and bored by that black hot track. It was torture.

But then, sometime around the beginning of college, I casually decided to go for a run. And then I kept doing it. Only ever a mile at a time. It wasn’t my favorite thing to do, but for some insane reason, I stuck with it.

After college, I grudgingly ran a half-marathon. I clung to the medal proudly, but training had killed my knees and I swore I’d never run another half again.

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A Desperate Mother’s Day Wish

It was 3am, every single day of my pregnancy: I would wake up sobbing, convinced I was going to be a terrible mother.

All the mistakes I’d ever made came flooding back to me, and I imagined my child making the same regretful decisions, simply because it was I who made him.

When he was first laid on my chest, tiny and slippery, I breathed his name and marveled over the fact that he was mine.

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On Becoming a Quitter

I reached 5 miles with a smile. I turned at the half way mark, a pedestrian bridge across the Fox River, and I ran back down the ramp towards the riverside path.

And then it happened.

My ankle buckled. I flew with the downhill momentum. I landed in a heap, with a bloody knee and instantly swelling ankle. And I sobbed.

I had spent 5 months in the biting cold of winter, one foot after the other pounding the icy pavement, and now I was two weeks away from the half marathon I had signed up for in an effort to hold myself accountable.

I needed the winter running to stay sane. I refused to spend months of cold gray skies huddled inside, depressed and agitated. And so I ran. And it was awesome… until it wasn’t.

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The Year I Learned to Listen

This year has been my year of throwing on mismatched fluffy socks and devouring Harry Potter page by page for the eighteenth time.

It’s been a year of dance parties with the three year old and dinners with the friends I love.

A year of storytelling and struggling with how to write what I need to say.

A year of admitting that I don’t know how to pray and realizing that God meets us wherever we may be.

It’s been a year of opening doors.

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This Is Why I Write

Robert Frost is famous for saying, “a poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is never a thought to begin with.”

I’d argue that, at least for me, most writing begins this way.

My 9 year old self would probably disagree. At 9 I started writing a journal. Correction, a diary. As in, “Dear Diary, today I….…sat next to Simon at school… watched The Simpsons on TV… ate shepherd’s pie for dinner… It’s quite the page turner.

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The Lesson that Changed My Life

Did anyone else think they’d have life all figured out by the age of 27?

I did.

My shy, pimply 14-year old self thought 27 would be a magical age: I would be happily married, growing a family and publishing my first novel. We’d be living in our first house with a friendly dog and regular dinner parties. I probably would have figured out the meaning to life. Oh, and I’d have great hair (finally).

Instead, a year ago, I turned 27 and realized a harsh reality:

I was a widowed single mother to an only child.

I was burning myself out at work.

I owned a house that was far too big for 1.5 people.

I was sadly in need of finding my high-maintenance dog a new home.

And my hair was falling out with stress.

12 months later, I can honestly say the year of being 27 was the longest, most difficult year of my entire life.

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