In a safe place

February 28, 2010

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”Cesare Pavese

I had some time alone at home and was spending it catching up. I hurried through Miles’ room with an empty laundry basket bumping my leg as I walked. I bent to throw the dirty clothes from the floor to the basket and was hit with his smell like a bump to the head. It stunned me with its goodness and I was surprised to miss him even though he’d just left. I was there with his smell, one that’s all boy and just this boy, my boy, all heavy with earth and fresh air and his hair. Oh, that hair that grows to a thick and careless mop and then transforms to a short faux hawk per his request because it looks cool, he says.

Either way is fine with me, I think, as long as it keeps its smell.

And then I’m hit with the next waft of him, something dirty and messy but mixing itself up to not stink. Like life.

Later, on his small bed, I hold the boy with his smells across my lap like a baby. With my back to the wall and not a sip of wine in me, I rock him back and forth and make up a story about a superhero boy just like him. No jumbled words and fuzzy mind make it messy, it’s just Mama and Miles on the bed at night. His big blue eyes with brows like his Daddy look up at me with the intensity of listening for the part about a resuce, and with a lump in my throat I think, I want him to remember this moment.

Me, being a safe place.


Because of sobriety, more than ever before, life is about these moments and not days or weeks or months and especially not years. There is no other choice but moment by moment or the heaviness is crazy-making. Some of these moments are terribly hard, full of craving and regret, and they are merely survived and slowly felt, but no longer skipped or numbed. This way, they can be healed.

So now I’m standing around with laundry baskets and thinking, what would we do without these brilliant moments of respite, of stillness piled high with good things like birds or scents or humor? What would we do?

In the middle of this thing called recovery, while I’m facing thoughts that bring feelings that bring pain, these moments kick up joy and they are like a superhero story complete with rescuing. These moments are the reason I will look back on this part of my life and see that somehow, I was safe.


Corinne February 28, 2010 at 9:34 pm

I had to stop myself from getting trapped in that "I want a do over, another baby so I can do it right once where I'm safe from the beginning" That's a dark place. Someone told me that you can look back, but don't stare.

Thank you for sharing posts like this. As we've talked about, it's so good to know these feelings are familiar, normal, and good.

Life Laugh Latte February 28, 2010 at 9:37 pm

It takes me longer these days to make my rounds. But whenever I come here it just feels so good. I can't wait to read the way you string words together. They always touch my soul in such a meaningful way. I too live for that boy hair smell. Even with two boys I could tell them a part with my eyes closed. Makes me intensely happy. Thank you for this post. Holly

Kazzy February 28, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Safe and pure and you. I love it!

Queen February 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm

I can't relate to the recovery that you're going through – but I have had so many similar feelings as a distracted, busy, "I'll be there in a minute" mom. I find myself missing my children after I've tucked them in at night and then wondering why I've spent so much of the day keeping them busy with things apart from me so that I could "get things done."

Because clearly, what is more important than being present with our children?

Kelly @ Love Well February 28, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Oh Heather. I have no words to respond to the poignant beauty.

Just hugs and continued prayers.

wendy February 28, 2010 at 9:52 pm


be present!
for the pain
for the joy
and for the remembrances

Cynthia February 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm

I cannot WAIT to see you, hear you and hug you for REAL at the CBC Conference!

We're in a similar place today with the memories thing. You, trying to enjoy each small boy moment and me trying to accept those days are over for me. Sigh.

As I read your post, you said you hoped he remembered that moment when it was just you two. Thing is, that moment is for YOU to hold even more than him. He will have another chance at this closely bonded thing with his own children someday. This IS your someday! And you are present and sober and will be able to hold it tight for YOU!

chris weigand February 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Wow this was the first post of yours that I read. I haven't had to deal with the same issues you have had, but I have raised three children and am working on the fourth. Take advantage of those moments. They will fuel your memories when you can't reach out and touch them. I missed so many because I was too busy, but now I remind myself with my 8 year old daughter to grasp onto those moments and hang on for dear life. God Bless you.

sara February 28, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Heather I have always loved the way your write…please keep it up, it is beautiful!

Boy Crazy February 28, 2010 at 11:56 pm

oh, corinne's comment killed me. you girls. you strong, inspirational girls. so much love for you.

and you are exactly right that all we have are the moments. i am so with you on this, friend.

xo elizabeth

Maggie, Dammit March 1, 2010 at 6:48 am


This might be my favorite post of yours.

Ellie March 1, 2010 at 7:35 am

Beautiful. I had an alone day yesterday, without the kids (hubby took them to see a friend) and I could not WAIT for them to leave. Within 10 minutes I missed them. I felt like a loose hinge – I felt ungrounded without my kids. I felt unsafe without THEM. That's something totally new.

I related to Corinne's comment, too.

Thanks for your gorgeous words.


Wendi@Every Day Miracles March 1, 2010 at 8:35 am

I love the way you express yourself lady!!

txmomof3 March 1, 2010 at 8:49 am

I usually don't sit down right before 8 on a Monday morning and read any blogs. But today I had my coffee, the kids are watching Spongebob and I clicked on your link. I'm so glad I did. I got what I needed this morning to face my day.
Thank you Heather.

Manic Mother March 1, 2010 at 9:17 am

Funny all the little beautiful things we miss when something else is taking from us. Wait till you see and smell grass again, it will be greener my friend :)

Lisa Page Rosenberg March 1, 2010 at 10:15 am

So lovely.
And the new awareness is just breathtaking, isn't it?

MidnightCafe March 1, 2010 at 10:33 am

Thank you for reminding all of us to stay in the present…with both the painful moments and those moments of grace.

Becca March 1, 2010 at 11:53 am

Maybe there's nothing a Mama really wants more than to be Safe. This is where I want my kids to come for comfort. Here for peace. Here for joy and laughs. I want to be Harbor.

Angie March 1, 2010 at 12:20 pm

There are no words. No words. Only tears.

This is beyond beautiful. So is your heart.

H-Mama March 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Beautiful = You.

~Mendie~ March 1, 2010 at 12:40 pm

wishing you millions more moments in that safe place.

Jo@Mylestones March 1, 2010 at 1:44 pm

"What would we do without these brilliant moments of respite, of stillness piled high with good things like birds or scents or humor? What would we do?"
I loved this part. I don't know what we would do. I'm so very glad these moments of respite come, and keep us safe.

kirsten March 1, 2010 at 2:27 pm

I'm with Maggie. My. Most. Favorite. EVER.

Somehow you tease out the meaning – I'm just able to maybe touch the hem of the moment as it slips away, yet again. I always find myself thinking "I bet Heather would have figured out what that just meant." :) Great post.

Jenn @ A Country Girl's Ramblings March 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Beautifully expressed!

L.T. Elliot March 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I've been caught up in this word lately; safe. I've wanted to be safe, feel safe, provide safe. Sometimes it feels so elusive and I fumble and grasp and cry when it slips out of my hands and other days, it descends, like a warm blanket and I get a moment. Just a moment and it's filled with all the beauty that you just wrote about. Thank you for another moment of safe.

Debbie March 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm

I love everything about being safe and offering safety for my family. It's a great feeling.

SuchALush March 1, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Just fed my clan dinner and then sat down at my screen and without ordering it, got dessert. And you didn't even know I'm quietly celebrating my 30th day sober. Thanks Heather. Your writing helps make me taste these new days, see their edges, points, slopes and grooves. Which leads me to my own cooking, how I've noticed its flavors, and discovered when gobbled wineless (and I mean no pre-gaming, consuming mucho ounces before a meal) it's not as bad as I'd imagined :) Yay for me. And I'd swear the kids seem more appreciative or did I just not SEE anything of value- from insect to pink elephant-'cause I only had eyes for the sweaty bottle of chilled chardonnay or ears for its glug,glug, glugging song? EO, EO, EO indeed.

TheOneTrueSue March 2, 2010 at 12:18 am

You are so special Heather – I hope you know that.

Heather March 2, 2010 at 9:20 am

sometimes these moments are all that keep me sane and on track-because looking beyond them is too hard and too overwhelming.

this is beautiful.


Lindsey March 2, 2010 at 10:17 am

This has been on my mind of late as well … thank you for such beautiful expression, as always.

Becky March 2, 2010 at 10:23 am

Whoa! This was just beautiful! You have such a gift Heather…

So glad you're in that safe place and able to enjoy all those moments.

Love you tons!

Marisa March 2, 2010 at 10:24 am

I just want to say how proud I am of you for taking this difficult journey!

The smell of my children is huge stress reliever! I can almost feel my blood pressure go down immediately! So glad you are fully enjoying your boys!

Just a side note: I'm kicking my own addiction of sugar. I use it as a crutch to help me cope instead of running to Jesus in prayer or immersing myself in his Word. I decided enough is enough. I don't want this crutch in my life!

myimaginaryblog March 2, 2010 at 10:42 am

I love how you've expressed how being present and emotionally engaged encompasses facing pain. It makes me realize that sometimes when I'm distracting myself and not being present with my kids, it might be because to have something is to also face losing it as time marches ever forward. Here's to choosing to be present even though it means facing loss. (And hey, loss is going to happen anyway. But different beautiful moments are also ahead.)

Sorry for the jumble of generalizations. Anyway you gave me new desire to value time with my kids and be emotionally engaged.

TKW March 2, 2010 at 11:00 am

Beautiful. I love how you describe the smell of him. And that safe place.

michelle March 2, 2010 at 1:05 pm

it is amazing how God often gives us a safe place in which to fall apart.

Rach@In His Hands March 2, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Keep breathing those moments in, hon.

Eva March 2, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Smell is such a visceral, emotional sense, isn't it? For me, it is so strongly tied to memories – one scent of a perfume or a meal or a flower can transport me to a place and time in my past. If only we could just bottle your little guy's scent!

a Tonggu Momma March 3, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I'm so glad you'll be able to cling to that moment as you keep taking one day at a time. And, while he may not remember that specific moment in time, he will remember the feeling. It's a part of him now. And that is what's important, is it not?

susannah March 3, 2010 at 1:51 pm


true and real and messy and beautiful.

Sue May 8, 2012 at 10:40 am

Just found your blog via Motherhood & Words blog book tour. Your writing is wonderful. And you are so brave to share your struggles. I think there is incredible power in sharing our struggles as the sense of isolation one can feel is crushing. Keep it up!
Sue recently posted..Books for Friday (BFF)- Books Galore at Calgary Reads

Liz January 21, 2014 at 10:14 pm

So Heather, after tonight’s course, I had to come here immediately and read this one b/c I caught so little the first time. Plus, I’m totally a visual learner. I gotta see words to feel them.
This is amazingly beautiful.
That girl in the chat room who said she might have to hit herself over the head with a brick because you admitted this had very little editing? Yeah, I get it now.
And perhaps it’s ironic (or very telling) that after listening to you for an hour telling me (us) that we should silence our inner critics through free writing, I come here, read more of yours, and immediately instinctively think: I can’t do that.
Just further proof I will get lots out of this course, because, obviously, I need to work on this getting-out-of-my-own-way thing!
Liz recently posted..The wishes and resolutions of others

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