Two days ago, I held my 9 year old’s hand and took a stroll down the dirt farm road behind our house. She bounced next to me, pointing at clouds and asking the kinds of questions kids always ask at some point, “What would it be like to ride on a cloud?… What if the cloud was shaped into a perfect seat, just for me?”
The afternoon was winding down into evening, and I was weary. I can’t tell you how many pictures I’ve taken, how many stories to write alongside them, only to find that I’m too weary to write. That’s a sad thing to have happen to me. My health is what it is, and I’m trying to find my new normal. Some days I feel like maybe I won’t have to, that I feel almost normal and I can ignore all the rest of the other days, but I inevitably wake up sick the next day and I quickly remember: denial is such a heartless tease.
Walking that road, my heart was weary. My bones were weary. I took in deep breaths of fresh air… and I listened to Lacy. Trenton rode his bike in front of us -no training wheels! And Alice jogged ahead, behind, around, wherever the wind took her. With the colors turning golden and warm around us, I was struck with the kind of confusing fear known so well to mothers.
I worry all at once that they will grow up… I worry that someday soon, no one will be holding my hand and chatting about clouds, no bike will ride in front of me, and no 3 year old will proudly present me with dandelion flowers as if they were the rarest blooms on Planet Earth.
And I worry that they never will grow up… That there will never be a day where my kitchen doesn’t look like a hurricane hit a hoarder’s house, that I won’t sleep lightly every night, popping up at every sound and wondering what it is (puke? coughing? seizure? death?), that I won’t spend 75% of my mind on cooking (what to cook? When to cook? and then? cooking and cleaning it up so I can move onto: what to cook? When to cook?…)
The days are so long.
The years are so short.
It makes no sense at all, and I make no sense to myself.
There’s only one thing to do in all of it: get present with where I actually am so I don’t miss a good moment or blow a bad one out of proportion, pass on the fear, confusion and any hurt or pain to God and then find gratitude.
Sometimes really allowing myself to feel the sheer joy that comes with parenting is just as scary as allowing myself to feel pain. Staying distracted and numbed out on business can be much easier.
At the end of the dirt farm road is a little ditch. Every few weeks, it fills and flows with irrigation water, and the sparkling wet water is always too great a temptation to pass up.
As a mother, there’s a lot of things I’m not. But as a mother, there’s a lot of things I am, and one of those things is spontaneous and free-spirited.
We kicked off our shoes. It was a tame little thing to do, really.
The funny thing about cold evening swims is that it is SO EASY to forget about the end. The shivering, the feeling of cracked on mud in every possible place it could be… Its like planning a trip to Disneyland, vaguely remembering that feet sometimes hurt at the end of the day. But by 5 pm on that first day, you’re near tears. The joy of the day is a bit spoiled, and as you sit to ride the train around the park and munch on a churro, you remind yourself:
You won’t remember the pain, not really. You’ll remember the memories, the laughs, the rides, the joy in the faces of the people riding the train next to you. It’s all very true. The kids won’t remember the cold shivers well enough to keep them out of a sparkling stream on a gorgeous springtime evening. Be that as it may, I had to snap a picture of the YUCK anyway.
Also, Lacy somehow ended up with Trent’s shoes. He really doesn’t pay her enough.
Maybe having someone to share it with?
We all curled up together to watch, “Singin’ in the Rain.” The kids love to watch the video clips on youtube of, “Make ‘Em Laugh” and “Moses”, so I finally just bought the whole movie. They loved it, and I loved curling up with them almost as much as I loved listening to Alice quote the movie.
If there’s anyone in our home who isn’t confused about how to feel joy or express sadness or live completely from the heart, whole-heartedly and without reserve, it is Alice Michelle.