never stops teaching.
Journaling for awareness. Growing for life.
I woke up this morning with determination. I had a full day ahead, and I wasn’t sure how it would all come together.
On the way to school the boys sang loudly while Adeline tried to tell me something important. “Mom, I need to practice jumping rope,” she told me. I could see in the rearview mirror that her eyes were a little wet. “My friends at school are really good at it, and I’m… I’m just not,” she explained.
“You probably just need a little practice,” I tried to soothe. “Let’s jump rope after school; it will be fun.”
She smiled with her chin out, the way she always does when she’s trying to be brave. And when I left her at her classroom door, I felt like maybe I’d left a small piece of me too. A piece of the little girl in me – the six year old with the crooked bangs who would go weak at the thought of having to play kickball at recess. How do we survive these things? I didn’t have time to determine. I had to get Keegan to school on time.
In between drop offs and the grocery store, Brennan and I stopped for a snack in town. We were sitting outside, sharing silence and bites of pumpkin muffin, when I overheard a group of women discussing how bored they were in their retirement. This brought me to a screeching halt in the middle of my morning.
The thing is, I tend to want to do things right away. I rarely put off anything that I feel can be done in the immediate future. And the very idea that there may come a time in my life when I’m dreaming up things to fill my days just floored me. It made me wonder, what’s my urgency? Is it that I don’t think I have enough time? It’s true that I don’t know any more than the next guy how long I have on the planet, but all the more reason to spend my time counting the birds flying overhead with Brennan instead of going over my grocery list. Because somehow I always get it all done anyway. There doesn’t seem to be a need for the frenzied pace.
Once I’d picked the kids up from school and was whirling around the kitchen making snacks and cleaning up, Keegan asked me to sit down with him. As much as it pained me to leave the dishwasher half unloaded, I sat. I snuggled next to him while he sipped his milk. And after a few moments he said, “I want to be an explorer and go to China.”
Well, that certainly pulled me in. “Why China, baby?” I asked.
He thought a moment, “Because it’s nice and warm there,” he finally said. I was all grins. He went on to talk about zebras, how he would like to see them in the wild someday and how I can come with him. I didn’t get to the dishes until many hours later, but it didn’t matter. Because it did indeed get done.
After swim lessons I took Adeline outside to jump rope. We practiced turning the rope, and I watched her struggle to leave the ground at times. I thought about how my daily routine may not be all that unlike this exercise – continual movement that feels a whole lot like staying in one place!
Eventually Adeline found a rhythm. And I watched her face light up with delight as she counted each consecutive jump. It seemed for a moment like her feet would never stay on the ground again, that she would continue to be suspended in air. When she called out, “fifty jumps!” her face lit up with pride. Satisfied, she sat down to paint a picture. I watched her pour herself over her artwork with contentment. She is fine to practice many things, but she is loyal to doing what she loves.
I suppose we all have to work at the things that connect us to each other. At age six that includes jumping rope. As a mom it means sitting down in the middle of my day – keeping the pace mellow enough to allow for these moments of triumph or discovery. And I need to be more loyal to doing what I love – to sipping tea in the sunshine, to reading books, to letting the chores wait so I can just enjoy my kids.
As I watched Adeline today I realized it is all about finding the joy in the jump. The jump from school to school, store to home, and so on. It’s not a program; it’s a process. And within that there is room for that moment of total freedom and delight, the moment when you’re suspended in air, empowered by the fact that you’ve left the ground.
When I look back on this time in my life, I won’t remember how many loads of laundry I did, I’ll remember the unique conversations, the freckles on the nose, the pumpkin muffins in the Fall. I’ll remember what I worked at and what made me happy. So this season, with all the rushing around that ensues, I want to be less concerned with how the dishes will come out of the oven on time and more focused on the shinning moments in the middle of the day that make everything so bright – like hearing from my three year old about the weather in China. These moments lift me. I may not know how things are going to work out from one day to the next, and sometimes it feels overwhelming, but if my kids have taught me anything it’s that there is always something amazing to be found. When you jump up into uncertainty you find that indescribable freedom there while you’re suspended in the air. You may not know how it will all come together, but you can rest assured that you’ll land where you need to.
When I put my head on the pillow tonight, I too can call out, “fifty jumps!” and feel a surge of pride. This was a full day. Full of joy.