2 years ago

The merciful grace in my child’s question.

Yeah, hi February.  I started this year doing something I’ve never done before: I chose 3 words to live by:

Property of Carolyn Svellinger


Except, as usual with me, things have beelined the opposite. I’m trying to deal with strange chronic pain that seems to have popped up out of the blue over the last few months.  When you try to do your daily things- you know, like balancing 4 children on one finger, but it hurts to lift that finger -things just suck, and those words you were pumped up to live out are staring at you and they just suck.
And so January flies by and one day you’re standing in the kitchen peeling a tangerine for your 3 year old, who is perfectly able to peel it on his own but insists that you do it at the pain of falling to the floor in devastation per usual 3 year old style.  And you flop the first half of that tangerine into a bowl and hand it to your child, who at his age, is best known for demanding things from you instead of engaging in genuine conversation, but he stops you with an unusual question:

“Mom, do you want to smell my orangie?”

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

And in my grey state, I consider distractedly saying, “No, just eat your orange.” mentally adding “and leave me alone for 10 minutes together.”


But instead, I chose the opposite. And let me tell you, it was an effort to muster, “Yes, I do, honey.” and it was an effort to bend down and actually sniff the thing. My body resisted leaning forward, and putting my nose on that piece of fruit.

One sniff was all it took to drop me into a California orange grove.  I stood there and felt the warm western sun. I inhaled the vibrant greens and the clear sky.  I felt my skin open and accept vitamin D. The tension in my neck, legs, and spine relaxed.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

And then I exhaled, landing back in the kitchen where bare brown trees stood dully, staring at me through the window with long Ohio faces.

I looked down at Collin and smiled.

property of Carolyn Svellinger

In one simple question from my child, I was given the decision to choose all three of my words this year. I took it.

Thanks, C. That’s all I needed.




  1. What a beautiful reminder. Sometimes I have such a hard time saying yes to the little (seemingly unimportant) requests from my kiddos… but it’s always worth it! You’d think that would make it easier to form into a habit…

  2. Made me cry a little. January 2016 sucked bad. I had bronchitis since before Christmas (it is now letting up), grandpa went downhill health wise, & then passed, and the week after the funeral, when I had hoped to be plunged into normalcy, Nick had the flu, and Sam ran a fever of 105 (!?!?) For four days. I lived (mentally, though sometimes literally) in a pit. I went through the stages of grief with anger hitting the hardest.

    I tell you all this, not to have a pity party, though I’ll willingly admit I attended a few in my mind, but to say (in a long winded way), when I absolutely thought I was ready to crawl back into bed and quit, it was always something said, or done by one of the children that righted me (and I’ll give Nick a bit of credit too).

    I was utterly astounded every time it happened, but truthfully, sometimes they know me better than I know myself. Probably since they lived so close to my heart ;-).


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