It’s greening up with such promise here.
The trees are in that baby stage, hatchling leaves erupting and surrounding the limbs like a fuzzy, green cloud. The lemon-yellow goldfinches swarm our feeder, making us feel lucky and chosen, (never mind that we’re spending the kids’ future college funds on birdseed).
Mornings, we all gather at the windows, gasping in delight at the brightening trees and birds, our collective blood pressures dropping, our heartbeats syncing up. And then our neighbor’s cat slinks predatorily into the picture and the birds evacuate in an explosion of panicky feathers.
How like my mind this is! So quick to pounce on a lovely scene, claws extended with fear and fretting. I had recently convinced myself that the problem with my children was that at 11 and almost 9 they hadn’t made anything of themselves yet. Somehow they weren’t, like, completely devoted to, I don’t know, writing comic books or kayaking or chicken husbandry. And somehow, if I had done something different when they were small, everyone would be spending their free time preparing for the quilting bee state championships or at least cheerfully making dinner.
Col actually said to me last night, on the occasion of me washing dishes for the fifth time that day, “You do so much for us, and in return, we do so little for you.”
“Would you like to do more?” I asked him.
Col thought for a nanosecond and replied, “No.”
The neighbor’s cat eventually gets spooked by a magpie and prowls away. And my mind – the fearful, analyzing and judging section – too, scampers off to do something more useful, like entertain the possibility that everything is, in fact, OK.
It’s hard to remove the worry-colored glasses that get affixed to your face about three minutes after your children’s conception. Dan told me recently, with concern in his voice, that when he jumps on the trampoline with the kids, Col can only go about five minutes before wanting to fall into a snuggle session with him. “It’s kind of strange,” Dan said, his forehead creased. “Honey,” I replied gently, “I think that’s actually lovely.”
Any parent knows, soon as your newborn squints up at you all cross-eyed and utterly helpless, your heart pounds with fierce devotion followed by maybe the smallest bit of concern about those weird googly eyes. Which is to say, motherhood is like submerging yourself in an ocean: vast waters of boundless love inextricably and forever salted by your own fears. While baby Jesus was visited shortly after birth by three wise men acknowledging his greatness, the rest of us were visited by nurses whispering of car seat regulations and newborn screening tests.
I can hear my wise mom saying, “Love doesn’t have to be so neurotic.” Right. I want to free up my mind to trust that my children are always evolving, adjusting, growing, developing, learning. They are working out hard stuff every day. If I want them to lean into the light, I must at least be one source of that light, beaming trust and belief upon them. This doesn’t mean turning a blind eye toward what needs attention, but practicing discernment so I don’t get swept under the bus of needless worry.
Worry sucks the joy from life, inventing and distorting the facts. Worry points to the tiny storm cloud in the distance when right now the sun is shining on your beautiful children sailing ever higher on the trampoline, their laughter sweetening the spring air.
Reach Rachel Turiel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her blog, 6512 and growing, on raising children, chickens and other messy, rewarding endeavors at 6,512 feet.