He’s learned how to get out of his crib. All on his own. Now, I wake to the pitter patter of his little feet, sometimes dirty from kicking his soccer ball on the patio barefoot the night before. He runs to my side of the bed. I pretend to be asleep, and wait for his tap. I think he finds it funny that he gets to wake me up some mornings. Of the 10 or 12 words he can say, I can count on his first one to be “cars!” This kid has an obsession with Lightning McQueen and Mater the Greater. So some, most, mornings, he watches Cars while he waits for big sister to wake up. And for me to wake up.
A few mornings ago, as I lay in bed waiting for his pitter patter, I felt the baby kick for the first time. It was a much needed, much welcomed kick. The past few months have been difficult in different ways. Not all bad all the time, but sometimes there are just seasons where life is harder than you want it to be. In the trenches, it’s not always fun. Actually, I don’t think it ever is. Which is why moments like that, moments where I literally feel life in me, and then hear life in his feet, are so real and full of joy.
From the morning sickness of early pregnancy to dealing with cranky kids to coming face to face with my own shortcomings and imperfections, I’ve welcomed the moments of joy. But I’ve also realized that it’s in the moments of pain and difficulty that you are forced to make a choice. A choice to take the moment to grow, or to take the moment and wallow and be consumed by anger and bitterness. And I’ve wallowed plenty. I’ve been angry and bitter and just plain mad. I’ve taken it out on my kids. I worry specifically about Evelyn. She is such a sweet girl, so curious, so talkative, so full of energy. But more times than I’d care to admit, when I’ve been at the end of my rope, I get angry and short with her. I’m afraid I’m stifling her, I’m afraid I’m scaring her away from being herself. I don’t want her to remember me as always telling her to be quiet.
I have felt a lot of pressure lately. A lot of pressure to fix these shortcomings of mine, or else I’ll ruin everything. My kids will remember me to be a mean mom, my husband will not feel loved, nothing will get accomplished. When I think of it like that, it is indeed a lot of pressure to strive to be perfect.
What I’ve come to realize is that I’ve been gripping onto this idea of what I want my life to be. And when that’s upset, when that’s challenged, it’s a painful process to peel back my fingers and hold it all open to God. It’s painful to realize that I can try all I want to control everything and everyone, but that’s just not reality. And it’s not my job. My responsibility is how I handle myself and treat others. To not let the anger and bitterness consume me. My responsibility is to love and care for my family, unconditionally. Not because I’m some martyr, but because Jesus loved and loves me, even when I was and am unloveable. It’s simply an imitation of the love I’ve received. Still, that’s a tall order on my own. But I take encouragement from this: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
My brother shared this quote with me, which I thought was so true: “All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.” -Cormac McCarthy. Hardships, though, by nature, are hard, shouldn’t be feared. There’s better things around the corner if we can get through the difficult times making the uneasy choices rather than wallowing. There’s more intense and meaningful joy.
There’s the pitter patter of dirty little feet and the kicks of even smaller ones.