Every time I’m *this close* to shutting down my Facebook — a few too many political posts, too much voyeurism — something newsworthy, something heartworthy shows up at the top of my newsfeed. Because we, as a people, are either totally predictable — or Facebook’s Big Brotherdom has me nailed.

I know. It’s the latter.

The other day, I had been texting with two of my sisters — half sisters to be exact — because I’d been having a not so stellar day, and they showed up for me with an ear, their support, some laughter. A Tina Fey GIF might have made the rounds — because, well, the levity. The oh so necessary levity.


Half sisters. This means that, although we have the same father, we have different moms; they are products of my dad’s second marriage. My brother and I are results of his first. I also have a third sister, another half, adopted from China when she was 3, by my mother and her then husband. And — there’s more! — I have an ex-stepbrother in here somewhere. Don’t get caught up in the flow chart. It doesn’t matter.

These folks aren’t halves. These people are family.

Which is why I was so struck by this video, one in a series, in my newsfeed.

Wow, Angel Soft. {#uglycry} I might have used a whole roll on just one of the videos.

Because when you or your children — or your sibling, or an aunt, or a friend — are affected by divorce, when your family has been divided, is there anything more for which we can hope?

To know a child, and encircle them with love. To observe a challenge, and still pull them in closer.

Sometimes it’s a tall order. When we let our ego take the wheel, and allow ourselves to be guided down a path that we think our lives should traverse — taking notes from a rule book that doesn’t actually exist — we are limiting ourselves. We are limiting our people. Because this life, with parents and step-parents and siblings, whether halfsies or wholesies, and then an ex and ex’s partner, and his or her family: Well. There’s nothing clean or linear about it. Even when you squint. 

We’re like an ink gushing octopus — with five times the tentacles. 

Collectively, we are brutiful — brutal AND beautiful — a word coined by Glennon Doyle Melton, the author of the very real, heart on your sleeve (or perhaps face) blog, Momastery. It’s sometimes a little religious for me, feel free to sub out God with Buddha or the Universe or Tom Brady, whomever you feel like. But her messaging is clear. 

It ain’t always pretty.

And so…although I can’t speak for allllll of the tentacles — whether they see what I see — we’re connected. We are.

This is not to say it doesn’t take effort. A strong will, even. I can’t say relinquishing — or should I say, sharing — some of my mommy duties with another woman was the simplest box to check off inside the walls of my aching heart. Those first few months, when my house was bereft of its usual cacophony of childhood birdsong, were some of the darkest days of my life. Where once it had been a constant flurry of activity, my tiny people burying their faces in my lap, the sound of giggles carrying up the stairwell, it was now — half the time — eerily quiet. No midnight calls for Mommy, no beds to make, no boo boos to kiss, no meals to prepare. I could eat a Clif bar three times a day, and no one would be the wiser.

Still smarts to think about it.

But, then.

Witnessing my girls’ dad and his partner on the field sidelines, cheering on our children, the harder edges of my heart began to soften. To know that my kids are fiercely loved, so unconditionally, is an enormous gift. Here is another person, showing up for my girls, and yet still respecting my role as their mother, greeting me with a smile, and loving my children as if they are her own.

Deep, deep gratitude. 

Because that’s what it’s about for me. Showing up. Being a part of a village.

Taking in all of the tentacles, and then offering them a seat at the table.

A step this, a half that?  No thanks. As a friend offered recently in a conversation — and my apologies if I’m delivering it in Hallmark packaging —  why go looking for holes, when you can enjoy what’s already whole?

Being a part of this equation, it takes a little grit. Some determination. But there’s no actual cost, unless you count the opening of your hearts and the rising numbers of your village. Unfurl those closed fists, outstretch your hands that know so well how to hold, and pull your people in. The rewards are there for you, patiently waiting.


13 thoughts on “Wholesies

  1. Elizabeth Cooke

    Oh, my….when your daughter finds the wisdom and graciousness of inner love and strength, not only for herself, but for all those who love her, and if you’re her mom, you sigh and say, ‘Thank you, Oh Universe, for all that she is and all that she will be.’

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JJ

    Fierce, powerful, gorgeous words from an equally fierce, powerful, and gorgeous woman. Pretty sure I needed a whole roll of Angelsoft just for this post.


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