The candles I chose for my bath are called Homesick-Tennessee and 1969 . . . not that I’m feeling melancholy. I thought I could make it home before having a great, spirit-cleansing cry, but I pulled to the side of the road and let it pour out.
Not realizing it is the shared birthday of my two oldest children, someone randomly sent a picture of the house where I lived when my first (now 27) was an infant. We moved there after leaving my beloved Tennessee for Indiana. It is where I lived when my second child (now 25) was born. The house where I first wrote about being a mother. I hand-wrote a story on the back of an envelope and mailed it to The Institute of Children’s Literature, hoping to gain some education.
In this house, I first learned what a panic attack felt like, although, at the time, I didn’t know what it was called. It is where we lived for only one week before my young husband lost his job, and my dreams of being a stay-at-home mom were put on hold.
I wrote a poem in that house about trusting God in the hardest times. I wrote it after praying that I could find a place to buy $35 worth of propane because I didn’t have money for the required tank fill.
Miraculously, a driver said he would bring whatever he had left at the end of the day, and the cost would be $35. It lasted until warm weather.
I was living in this house when I swallowed my pride, and applied for WIC so my babies would have food. It was here where I attempted to make a casserole using ramen noodles and venison that had been given to us. I tried hard not to be offended when a well-meaning relative dropped off leftovers from Red Lobster.
I turned 25 in this house. It was my hardest birthday. I was suddenly closer to thirty than nineteen, and I hadn’t gone to college or traveled or written a novel or lost weight or figured out how to style my hair in a remotely attractive manner. I was a lonely, young mother, living in a rented house on a hog farm, trying to make ends meet, and fulfill my Christian duties as a wife and mother.
My husband came home from work one evening and found me crouched in the corner of the darkened kitchen, sobbing. I didn’t know about postpartum depression. I thought I just wasn’t having enough faith, or needed to read my Bible more.
One night, weary from waitressing, I stopped and spent the night’s tips on diapers and a few other necessities. Cloth diapers weren’t working for me, and I felt guilty about it. Our bank account was overdrawn, and I should have been figuring out more ways to cut corners instead of splurging on Pampers.
I walked into the house with my meager groceries. My babies were in bed, happily jabbering, oblivious to my pain and depression. Against my better judgment, I took them out of bed, and held them close. My heart overflowed with gratefulness. Gratefulness was, and continues to be, the key.
I will soon be double the age I was in that house. Fifty is almost here. My life looks nothing like I thought it would. There has been pain and healing, darkness and light, sorrow and joy. But above anything else, there has been an abundance of what I felt that long-ago night . . . love.
Twenty-five years ago, I could not have imagined being who I am now, or the depths of peace I feel even when there are melancholy days. I am ever so grateful for each experience that has led to this time and place, right down to this bathtub, with these exact candles, chosen specifically for me by those who love me.

Syndicated columnist Ginger Claremohr is an author, speaker, and mother of five. Find her on Facebook or To book a speaking engagement, contact