Clare Saumell VanderWeele

essays on living

Category: Life (page 2 of 2)

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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