You know that feeling of shaky relief that follows a near miss in traffic, or a relieved diagnosis of “looks fine to me;” those moments where your actual life and a very different possible life come close to intersecting? Those moments are gifts.
So, too, are those unexpected larger-than-life invitations to something so ridiculously beyond you and your paltry abilities that they can only be orchestrated by the big Guy. And sometimes those demand a yes, and sometimes they require a no, and sometimes they’re more of a “not right now, but maybe in the future…” and oftentimes they’re the perfect moments to stop and stare at the life you do have, the dream you are actually living, and recognize that things are very, very good.
While mulling over some potentially large decisions the last few days, I’ve had some insight into the goodness of the now, the richness of the ordinary – or at least familiar – life we’re living as a little family of 5.75. And even if something really good came along and shook that up a little, I’d still probably miss the “right now,” which kind of surprised me.
That’s when it clicked for me, suddenly, all those “enjoy this while it’s here because before you know it…” comments uttered wistfully by perfect strangers.
They know something I don’t, that I can’t quite see yet through the sleepless fog of the present preschool melee. They’ve got the longer view.
This sounds so weird, but as I was lying beside my oldest son during the bedtime marathon tonight and snuggling into the curve of his slightly sweaty 4-year-old neck I caught of whiff of some very adult-scented feet coming from underneath the covers and it actually made me catch my breath. And not just because it was gross.
Because my baby’s feet stink. And not like a baby’s, but like a big, grown up boy’s.
I had a LOST-style flash forward of football cleats, dirty backpacks and closets full of sweaty gym clothes, and I tightened my grip on his little shoulders, pulling him in for a tighter hug.
It’ll be over in a heartbeat. And yet, my heart is still very much slogging through the longest hours of these longest days.
Yesterday at Costco not one but three separate shoppers stopped me to look my brood over, look me in the eye and tell me, each of them almost verbatim, God bless you mom, you’re doing a good job. Your family is beautiful.
And I could see that they were right, that I am doing a good job, and that these kids of mine are so beautiful.
I honestly got a little bit teary eyed after the third encounter, because there’s only so much affirmation my wizened heart can handle, and just because the intensity our schedule lately, and of the discernment the last few days had brought with them had exacted an unexpected emotional toll.
I also thought long and hard on the drive home about my sisters who are suffering in a way that is silent and maybe even invisible, the ones who wrote here in this space last week about their broken, open hearts and the hardships and the unseen crosses, and I felt so incredibly foolish for ever complaining about the hard parts, because wouldn’t any one of them die to be complimented by a perfect stranger on their overflowing doublewide cart?
And don’t they deserve to have an older woman put her arm around their shoulder in the produce aisle and look them in the eye and say “you’re doing a good job, mom;” to be recognized in some way for soldiering on under the burden they’ve been entrusted with?
Maybe this is all a bit disjointed, but it seemed to click together in my tired brain as I spoke with a dear friend yesterday and shared some of the details of my week. A major confidence booster, she rightly called the opportunity I’d been presented with.
And then, something more than that, a contentment booster, she joked.
And she was right, because I was struck dumb at the realization that, wow, as good as things could be, and indeed might be down the road, things are also very, very good right now, just as they are.
No matter what the future holds, it feels incredibly important to take a deep breath, look around at the unimaginable beauty and bounty of this life, and to offer sincere and, honestly, awestruck gratitude for it. All of it. Even the poop in the bathtub.
And another thing, before I fall into bed and sleep the second-trimester sleep of the dead: I no longer care when somebody poops in the bathtub. Darling Genevieve facilitated this gem of self discovery tonight, ushering in a new era of laissez faire motherhood that honestly couldn’t be bothered to intervene in the inevitable, content simply to clean up the aftermath.
And that, my friends, feels like some kind of victory in and of itself.
May your dreams be sweet, and your bathtubs bleached.