Blog | Lindsey Smallwood


New freckles

Lindsey Smallwood

a poem, written on the occasion of my 35th birthday


The flowers you got me are dying. 
Green blooms giving way to drooping orbs,
a tabletop reminder that comforts and disturbs
for I am dying too. 

Dying, yes,
but only the way every living thing is dying.
Here's something marvelous:
      every dying thing is living still.

Living through the flood waters.
Living in the face of fear.
Breathing and speaking,
learning and yearning and surprised by the ache - 
more confident and more broken hearted with each passing year.

In hope, there is rising;
fighting back darkness without compromising
or becoming the very thing I'm despising.
I want to be bold but not self-righteous, 
speaking truth without using words for violence,
knowing when to act and when to be quiet,
choosing to be last,
to name what I covet and die to it.

Most days hope is brutal,
catches in my throat
     yet somehow beautiful.
sweet terrible hope is Light for today and Resurrection come what may.
Still I never thought that life would feel this way.

Though dying, I do not droop.
I stand taller than I ever have,
new freckles on my face from all that sunshine.
I am learning to love them.

Seeing the Sweetness

#wholemamaLindsey Smallwood

It's #wholemama Week 2 - guess what that means? Another poem from yours truly.

This week's topic: What is your super power?

Today when you asked me to tell you about
all the ways in which I am super,
the first thoughts that began to fill up my mind
are places where I am a pooper. 

"My house is a mess, my children eat sugar,
my toddler loves Elmo and Big Bird."
As I rattled off all the ways I fall short,
I stopped and instead I considered...

I thought about where I find power and strength 
in my hard work as a mother. 
I gave myself space to see what is super
in me as opposed to the others. 

A small thing, at first glance, but maybe quite large
is the way I create good distractions. 
As my oldest starts crying over a lost toy,
my silly songs change his reaction.

Another ability making me strong - 
my keen sense of where to find lost things.
A forgotten letter, a neglected shirt - 
both powerless against my recounting.

But perhaps the quality I see in myself 
that's most super and most empowering
is the way that I manage to enjoy every day,
no matter what problems are towering.

Sometimes I feel it's a part of my heart
I must hide around those who are venting.
They tell me they're bored, my sweet mama friends, 
or they're tired or fat or resenting.

It's not that I don't understand these emotions
I feel them from time to time.
But no matter the feelings, no matter the day,
There is joy in this heart of mine.

Motherhood is a dream that I dreamt for so long
not knowing if it would come true.
So even through tantrums and piles of dishes
there's a smile that always ensues. 

"I am a mama," I say in my heart,
"These babies are mine now to keep!"
I find joy on the hard days and joy in the messes
and yes, joy when they go down to sleep.

The power I have is to see the big picture, 
that this season is sweet and it's short.
The things that feel hard are already changing;
there are new hard things to report.

But the incredible job that I get for these years
is to help them grow up through the hard,
to take these small babies and make of them people, 
first up close and then, from afar. 

So before afar comes and they're grown and they're gone
I'll delight in the tough and the trying,
with kisses and cuddles and beds left unmade,
and bad dancing to cheer up the crying.

Friends, what's your super-power? What special gift(s) help you be as whole as you can? Tell me more in the comments below and join in the #wholemama fun.

Shalom on the Line

#wholemamaLindsey Smallwood

Hey hey to you all!

This summer I am joining in with some writing friends to participate in #wholemama, a season of being a community who remembers what matters. (Hint: It's not finishing my summer bucket list or losing a jean size.) There are hashtags and love bombs and Fuzes - oh my. What looks to be my favorite part is we plan to write in response to a weekly prompt and share our thoughts with each other and all of you.

In an attempt to bring more joy into my week, I've decided to write my weekly #wholemama posts as poetry. Not elegant little ditties like Luci Shaw or Emily Dickinson. I'm talking about straight up Dr. Suess-style stuff - except without all the wockets and zazzles. Singsong rhyming poetry was the first thing I loved to write as a kid, it was my drug of choice in the hormone filled junior high years and it's still a simple pleasure in which I find delight. But I rarely make time for it. 

Until now.

For the next eight weeks...

I'm setting aside Tuesdays for writing in verse. 
Hoping to be clever, truthful and terse. 
Here's hoping for something uplifting to you
Now onto the prompt without further ado...

See what I did there ;)

This week's topic - Yearning for wholeness, peace & Shalom. 

Last weekend we went to go hiking
and sleep in a tent by the shore.
Though we left for just 24 hours,
we came home with laundry galore.

Dirty Pack 'n Play sheets and blankets,
campfire smoke on our shirts,
the towels we used as a doormat,
bloody shorts from where Bobby got hurt.

Back at home it turned into a mountain,
peaking as tall as my thighs.
It grew even more when I realized
there were clothes in the hamper, besides.

We live in a tiny apartment,
with a washer hidden by a door.
No dryers allowed in our unit,
just a small drying rack on the floor. 

As I stared at my laundry volcano
erupting out into the room,
I cursed our dorm-style living,
awash in self-pity and gloom.

"Someday I will live in a house,"
I said in my downhearted funk.
"With a beautiful washer and dryer - 
a whole room to fold all this junk."

Sleep deprived from our trip in the wild
and longing to head off to bed, 
instead I began to fill the machine
as the small voice inside of me said: 

"It's a grace gift, your tiny apartment,
where you live with your husband and sons.
It's a grace gift, this pile of laundry, 
evidence of adventure and fun.

It's a grace gift to have all the water
you will need to finish your chores.
It's a grace gift, this moment of quiet,
as you pick your things up off the floor."

As I stood in front of my washer,
I remembered anew and again - 
There is a peace that comes in letting go
of "I wants" and "Someday whens".

Instead - sweet joy in taking time to see
the riches already mine.
As I hung our camping laundry
I found Shalom - there on the line.

Friends, where are you finding Shalom - peace - wholeness these days? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. 

Oh, and in case you missed it, the rhyming verse fun started last week with my #wholemama rap - check it out here