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Monday, October 9, 2017

For When Parenthood Feels Like Fall

The trees are turning in Norfolk.

It's subtle at first: the once leafy, deep greens turn to a mojito-lime in the sky. Then sprigs of yellow. Then orange to red.

It happens somehow, somehow, somehow. Over time and all at once. 

I first noticed it on our walk to church yesterday morning. I pushed my son in his stroller across a small collection of leaves on the crooked sidewalk. I told him about the seasons changing, how he'll feel cool air soon, and how we'll see other colors on the leaves of our tree-friends.

"They're turning," I said to his little ears, going over the science of it all. He is a brilliant nearly five-month-old, of course, and already understood how it all worked.

I expect his thesis to be complete by the end of the week.

I cooed into his stroller, stroked his cheek and told him about how the chlorophyll lessens in the trees, how that exposes the color that lies beneath.

The color that's been there all along.

I let my mind play to where it normally goes - thinking about the future. What he'll be doing next year.

My foot went a little out of its way to crunch on a leaf, and I prayed that the wonder and delight of the season would spark awake in my boy. Looking forward, always forward, to when his tiny shoes will stomp on a leaf first out of curiosity, then again and again out of delight.

The trees are turning. And something, it seems, is turning within me.

The past few months of my son's precious life, there has been a lessening of something in my soul. Something like a rich-green selfishness; the kind that's born from not knowing any better or really having to.

The green that comes from a moderate life of caring for yourself, your health, your career, your social life: your, your, your.

But then the double pink line appears on the test. You get the sonogram. You tell your friends and family. Your belly swells with pride, joy and water weight.

Then. Bit-by-bit. Step-by-step. A part of you is multiplied and divided in two. And a new person is brought into the world.



And your temperate green leaves turn. To make way, for better, for worse. For what was there all along.

The baby cries for three hour straight. 

A sprig of red.

Your dishes, clothes, your very body and hair go unwashed.

A streak of yellow.

You divide your time, your talents, your gifts, your callings, your friendships and count it all second-place to this new little being.

Full-fire orange.

Parenthood, new parenthood, has a way of stripping us of the ways we keep ourselves together.

But without the unraveling. Without the questions. Without the anxiety, the rearranging schedules, the doctors appointments, the stroller-pushing, the trying-your-hardest and still coming up short... 

Without the grace. Without the needing other people to take the lead on parts of your life you didn't ever have to think twice about... 

There wouldn't be the extraordinary wisps of color and beauty in our world.

Somehow, somehow, somehow. Over time and all at once.

The color that's been there all along.

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