Welcome Monkees

According to Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery, Monkees are like monks,

in that we put our faith in something beyond ourselves, we find value in quiet, and we practice living peacefully in community – here on the internet and beyond. We’re unlike monks in that we curse and watch trash tv and become annoyed quite easily. So we settled on Monkees. 

I’m honored that my post, “Wishing Him Gone” is featured today on Glennon’s blog and I’d like to give a warm welcome to the Monkees visiting my little corner of the internet.

It’s a strange day here.  Aidan is having major orthopedic surgery. Eight hours under the knife to straighten his spine and secure it with two titanium rods and a sprinkle of cadaver bone. Eight hours we wait, each moment under anesthesia coming with increased risks. Eight hours when we’ll receive six phone calls from the operating room to tell us that Aidan’s surgery is progressing just fine.

I’m most nervous about the waiting, not about the cutting and fastening and stitching. It’s just a long time to purposely not think about the one thing you can’t help but think about.

It’s a strange day to share with the world that there was a time I believed myself incapable of this kind of fierce love and protection, that I looked at my boy and felt only fear and discouragement, that I thought carrying Aidan through a world of doctors and therapists would crush me.  It’s all so different now.

On this strange day that I’m wholly focused on Aidan’s surgery and recovery, on making the time pass, I’m also grateful to be embraced by the Momastery community that believes that We Can Do Hard Things. I want to hear your stories, I want you to stick around to hear more of ours (which will be more joyful soon I promise), I want to read and appreciate all of your comments, I want to say thank-you for joining our journey.

That probably won’t happen until sometime this weekend, when I’m home in the stillness and Garreth takes the first shift at the hospital. But know that on this strange, tense but quiet day, I feel your presence and I’m grateful that We Belong to Each Other.


To my dear readers, I’d love to introduce you to the Monkees. Glennon is a community builder, encourager and teacher at heart. She taught and loved many children including our kids with disabilities during her professional teaching days. Glennon has used her voice and platform to help others in need, including a special purpose school and families who needed an accessible van. How many ways can we love that?

On occasion Glennon hosts Love Flash Mobs to raise money for these projects. To promote inclusion, and you know how I love inclusion, she caps the donations at $25. That’s the maximum gift. Here’s what’s so beautiful about that – it makes room for more people to give because we know that in giving we receive. I would encourage you to follow her blog to part of her Monkee community.


Regarding surgery, we are expecting no real news until the very end of the day and we will most likely not see Aidan until the evening. I will do my best to keep FaceBook updated at some point. Thank-you for being part of this journey. 

With love and gratitude, Heather and Garreth



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Showering with a Super Hero

I’m reposting what I wrote last year (with some edits) when Aidan had his first orthopedic surgery. We’ll be in hospital housing again and the weird world of children in hospitals instead of at home.


I showered with a Super Hero this morning. Two dinosaurs and a monster truck were there also, these forgotten sentries of innocence. We’re staying in hospital housing because my son is having surgery. In this case it’s a beautiful Tudor home that has been converted into shared living space. The previous night behind these closed bathroom doors, we heard typical childhood fussing that most likely accompanied a vigorous hair washing.

Not at all an unusual scenario. Except this time, the bedtime routine was the last before a medical procedure, or possibly this child has a sibling in the hospital. It’s hard to say. Every family has a different story. I wasn’t at all annoyed; it’s not like I haven’t showered with a dinosaur before. I only felt sad that this child had to bathe in an unfamiliar place and that this parent must have been physically and emotionally exhausted having to care for a medically needy child.  A T-Rex was conspicuously absent and isn’t that every child’s favorite? What if he was left at home, and how long will this child and his favorite pre-historic carnivore be separated?

The trappings of a normal life stand in juxtaposition to the world that shouldn’t be; a world of children in hospitals.

My husband Garreth and I had a very Marty McFly moment last night. We met ourselves of 12 years ago in the communal kitchen. A young couple just arrived having taken a bus from their small town up north. They had their two year old daughter in tow; she was slowly taking in her new surroundings. Garreth, a veteran of hospital houses though new to this one, immediately started showing them around and making sure they were fed. They told tales of their hometown NICU and how their newborn son had been there for 100 days before being transferred. “Can you believe it,” their eyes said, “100 days!” This doesn’t really happen in the real world. No one should be expected to go through that. Country folk waiting for a chance to be with their new son in a big city hospital. Their bodies and words held that surreal mixture of disbelief and courage. “I am surviving something I didn’t know existed.”

I get it, young beautiful innocent postpartum mom, I do. What you don’t know is that your strength will continue to surprise you; you will feel overwhelmed and then you will dig down and rise up and fight for this son you are just getting to know. And then later, probably much later, you will sit back and weigh the absurdity of your story and be amazed that you were able to live though it.


After showering with a Super Hero, I poured myself a special cup of pumpkin spice coffee, a gift from a friend for this very occasion. We set off on our brisk walk to the hospital just like all the other morning commuters, and yet completely different. I walked with my coffee in one hand while pushing my son’s wheelchair in the other just hours before he goes under the knife.

We blend in and head to the hospital. The schedule is already an hour and a half behind. The doctor has recognized that his first patient of the day is precious as well and needs some extra time, attention, and care. We will wait.

The pre-op nurse if fabulous. There’s just something about pediatric medical folks. She spoke to my son, making small talk and asking the important questions. She noticed it was his birthday soon and I remarked that surgery was a pretty awful gift. She reminded me that when his birthday comes around next week he will be on his way to healing and getting stronger.

We will be on our way home, where we belong.


A Letter to My Husband

I’m re-posting this letter I wrote to Garreth for our 18th anniversary because this is an important week to remember that we’re on the same team. Somehow the stress of dealing with Aidan’s medical issues brings out the best in us. I’ve written before about how My Husband is not Romantic but that he Pinky Swears that he loves me.

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You asked me one night as we locked fingers in bed if I’d marry you all over again. I was already half asleep, this night before our 18th anniversary, and I said something quite circular and confusing even to me. I hope I told you I was glad I married you, but I think I may have also said it was better that I knew so little at the time. You figured I wouldn’t marry you if I knew then what I know now. There could be some truth to that. I’m a thinker and I like to make informed decisions. Had we taken those personality tests before we got married we never would have made it to the altar. According to scientific research, we’re not a match.

The whole commitment, marriage, trust thing freaked me out 18 years ago. In this case, I’m glad I listened to all of my friends who instructed me to stop analyzing and just say yes. I’m thankful I got out of my own way. It turns out that the Indigo Girls knew the truth when they sang, “The steel bars between me and a promise suddenly bend with ease; the closer I’m bound in love to you, the closer I am to free.” Loving you freed me from all of that fear and insecurity that almost kept me away.


We’re not the Adventurous couple or even the Romantic one. We’re not the Best Friends couple who would totally have a blast together even if we weren’t married. I hate to think of us as the Survives Hard Things couple, because really, what a drag, even if it is a little bit true. We’re just us, without a tidy label.

We’ve changed and grown, oh my word how we’ve grown. Remember when I was always right? Remember when you didn’t have words? Remember when I could hold a grudge like nobody’s business? Remember when I had to verbally process everything and you didn’t want to process anything? Over time, we really have met in the middle, a comfortable place. I wait patiently and listen better; you’ve called me your safe place and share more; we’ve both opened windows of grace.

I love that you love me most in that early morning hour; how you never forget to spoon me before you leave for work and tell me you love me even though I’m asleep. I love that you recently told me that those are the moments you remind yourself not to take us for granted. You got me all fired up when you told you me had Big Thoughts about Big Issues and I was ready to dig in, but you just wanted to give me a preface to some conversation that may happen in the future. We’re different that way. You’ll share when you’re ready and you’ll expect all of the fervor I’ll bring. I love that you text me when I’m away from you and tell me why you love me, or remind me of some sweet or silly moment from our past, knowing I probably won’t text you back because I don’t have a real phone. I love that the things that drive me bonkers about you, because honestly they’re still there, are less significant than all of the small, simple, moment by moment ways we love each other.

Maybe we’re the Chooses Love couple. I woke up sulking this morning because of our interaction last night, thinking about all of the words I would choose to communicate with you. You emailed me and asked me out on a date. Sometimes Choosing Love is simple. I learned that from you. When it’s challenging, when it’s boring, when our needs conflict, when we’re empty; Choosing Love is always best. We’re Solid, and Longevity matters. This making of a family, this seeing into each other, the showing up, the hard work, the laughing at I don’t even know what that was the other night that made Liam have to shush us; we’re building something.

Sometimes we freak out when we look ahead; what will we be without our children and how will we spend time together? We’re really not the kind of people who need to go forth on a grand adventure. I’ll be happy sitting in your garden drinking a cold beer while you harvest the tomatoes before we make salsa and decide how many jalepenos to put in before we sit down together to eat nachos and talk about nothing…which is everything, really.

I love you. Pinky Swear.