A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…”
(Eccl. 3:1-2 KJV).
Colorado is yellow in the fall. Aspen strike the treeline of the Rockies with such a brilliant yellow, that you nearly have to squint your eyes to take them in without being blinded.
My husband and I passed these flowers blooming in a neighbor’s garden on an evening walk a few weeks ago. “Have these always been here?” my husband asked.
“I don’t think so,” I said. “I’m pretty sure they only bloom in the fall.”
Though it’s a bit cliche, those perfect yellow blooms got me thinking about this season of motherhood, asking myself, Am I blooming here, or just biding my time, hoping that this season will pass quickly?
A week and a half ago, I took the one-month old baby and fled to my parent’s house over the highest road in the nation. I just needed a nap. My parents took care of me, fed me, held the baby and allowed me to rest for nearly 48 hours. On the majestic drive home in the early hours of the morning, I forced myself to spend the two hours in silence. I attempted to clear my head and just listen.
In the silence, I began to formulate a list of priorities. Watching the center line kept me from careening over the edge, much like keeping my eyes on Jesus is holding me from sailing right into the tired mama’s tendency towards postpartum depression. My list right now is simply this:
Sleep when I can
Get outdoors daily
Eat healthy food
Talk to another adult
But I also felt like I needed to remember my husband. For the past few months, we’ve been high-fiving one another and passing on the baton in the relay-race of parenthood. We are partners and team-players, but are we lovers, friends and companions? This newborn’s needs must come first right now, but is my husband a close second? So we are instituting weekly one to two hour date nights for a couple months and getting better about being intentional with one another. I’m trying to remember to make eye contact and really see him even when I can barely see straight because of sleeplessness.
It’s been a week and a half since my assessment and I am feeling more emotionally healthy. On the days I don’t walk alone, I strap on the baby and push us out of the house for a walk. The exercise and fall are ministering to my weary soul.
I will be the first to tell anyone that I am not a pinteresty mom. I don’t do crafts or cutesy activities. But in a moment of weakness last week, I drew up a simple scavenger hunt for my kids to do during the “hike” part of our walk.
The kids looked for animal tracks in the hardened path, picked up sticks and were delighted when we discovered three apple trees along the way. I tried not to smack the baby as I hoisted a stick up to dislodge the apples, yelling at my kids to get out of the way so they didn’t get hit in the head. Our mouths full of sweet apples, we laughed at one another and delighted over the special unexpected treat.
It was one of the first times I have felt fully present with my kids in a really long time.
Over the past few months, an image has come to mind as I’ve thought about my life as a mother. So many times, I feel like I am sitting in the stands while my kids are out on the field playing. But I am the type of disengaged spectator who is scrolling through social media on her phone, wishing she were anywhere but here.
I see my kids as an interruption.
Instead, I hope to be not only paying attention to them, but their greatest fan. In his book, Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson said that he always knew that his mother adored him. I hope the my kids will be able to say the same of me.
A friend sent me a verse several weeks ago that had spoken to her as she prepared to have a baby of her own. It has also come to mind over the past days and weeks as I’ve struggled to be content in this season of life that can feel so restrictive and confining.
“Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness” (Ps. 37:3 NASB).
The word that stands out to me is “cultivate.” Cultivating requires staying in one place and tending to my garden. Patience, persistence and attention are needed if I am going to see my seeds grow. This is the season of staying put and doing the back-breaking, repetitive work of watering, weed-pulling and guarding from both frost and heat.
This is the season of loving when I see very little return for my love. It is the season of tilling hard soil and wondering if my words will ever sink down deep. And the verse that follows is one that ironically, I clung hard to in my many years of longing for a husband and children:
“Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4 NASB).
It is not just in delighting in nature, my “me time,” my husband, or my children that I will find the soul rest that I seek. It is in delighting in my God.
Nevertheless, my prayer in this season is this:
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