“May my heart always be open
to little birds who are
the secret of living.”
– EE Cummings
May my Heart
I was feeling rushed, for no reason, really. I wasn’t as much in a hurry to get somewhere as I was to get away from somewhere. From constant dialogue about Japanese anime creatures and laundry and wiping sticky stuff off the counter and picking up toys and changing diapers and answering questions and explaining why wiping your buns is not an optional step when using the bathroom to go number two. I wanted to get away from the disapproving side glance when I raised my voice, or spoke harshly or walked away when a tiny person was running after me crying because I am a better mom at eight in the morning than I am at eight at night. I wanted to get away. All the way, like in-the-car-so-I-couldn’t-even-SEE-the-house away. When I was out of the neighborhood, down the hill and on auto-pilot to Target, I finally let out a deep exhale. Then, the guilt began to creep up from a pit in my stomach and burn the back of my throat as I thought about how the day had gone.
It has been one of those (air quote with fingers) “seasons”. I am going to call it a “season”, even though it has been a good long while, because it feels optimistic and implies an eventual end. You know the “season”, don’t you Momma? The one where you wake up way before your body wants you to because a tiny person is standing over you loud-whispering for you to wake up and make him waffles. And you whine, even though whining is not allowed, asking for five more minutes. But then you hear the tinier human summoning you from his sleeping cage so you have to get up. And you’re irritated. And even though you try, and you self-talk and you turn pictures of your pouty kids into memes to send to your mom-friends, and you’re intentional about noticing the good moments, you’re STILL irritated. And you start counting down to bedtime at like three o’clock in the afternoon, and when it finally comes you snack away the stress of the day in front of the TV and stay up so late “unwinding” that you don’t even bother to turn on the alarm that wakes you before your kids so you can read your bible, drink some coffee and greet them with a smile upon their waking. It’s been that kind of a “season”.
So, I was at the stop light, neck deep in a “season”, feeling like I needed to escape. But also feeling guilty for not loving my babies well that day. Embarrassed that I greeted my husband with “I need a break” when he walked in the door, and overwhelmed at the thought of doing it all again the next day. Sheepish and ever so slightly I lowered my chin and said “God, I need some help.” Then, my humility turned quickly back to irritation, because this flesh is weak, and the fools in front of me where not moving when the light turned green. Simmering in rage, eyes rolling like a CRAZY person, I craned my neck and growled “GAHHHH what the HECK?!”
Then I saw them. There were two geese pacing near the cross-walk of the intersection with their fuzzy little goslings training behind them. The Momma goose would take a couple steps into the cross-walk then nervously hustle back onto the side walk herding her babies away from the danger. By the time I had noticed what was holding up traffic two drivers had put their cars in park and gotten out to offer help to that poor Momma goose. My amusement gave way to astonishment as I watched an elderly woman, a middle aged woman and two young girls surround that Momma and her babies, arms out stretched, offering her an escort. And when that momma goose chose to trust those women, you can bet I was full on ugly crying. Those women, with their arms outstretched, led that bird and her fuzzy babies all the way across the road and onto an empty soccer field where they waddled away to safety. And I pulled into the first empty parking lot I could find to finish my ugly cry and text my best friend. I told the entire story and concluded with “but might not be good exegesis to assume God is speaking to me through woodland creatures”. To which she assured “That’s good theology, God knows your love language”.
I went home with an attitude adjustment and giddily rehashed the story for my husband (who looked at me like my mood swings were giving him whiplash) then dug though my bible looking for a verse I forgot I knew:
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Underline. Circle. Highlight. Scribble “goslings” in the margin as testimony.
I have sat on this story for some time because I didn’t feel like I should put it on paper until my “season” was over. I like to share hard things once they are behind me, wrapped up into neat boxes and tied with a happy ending. I like to be just vulnerable enough to share things that were hard, before I grew into the spiritually mature super-mom standing before you with a homemade healthy snack and a witty anecdote that leaves my audience laughing. Because I want to be sure no one thinks I am not good enough. I had hoped that my anti-anxiety medication would no longer be necessary, my husband would never need to remind me speak gently, I would be so filled up by the mundane that I would find it sacred and life-giving to fold fitted sheets. But, that is still not my reality. And maybe it isn’t yours either.
I saw an Instagram post that said “You can be a mess and still be a good mom. You’re allowed to be both.” And I am, both. I love my babies dearly and raising them up is what I am doing full-time with my life. And this “season” has been messy and hard, and there are definitely days when my husband comes home and everyone in the house has been, or is currently crying. And it is exhausting. But, I am realizing there is a point where I have to stop being so flustered by being flustered, and accept some help leading my babies. And just like that sweet momma goose, that means acknowledging that I have come to the end of my ability to walk alone. It means putting my trust in the women who have been there, offering to circle around me. It means gleaning wisdom from the older women who have crossed this ahead of me with their babies intact. It means accepting a correcting nudge from a new friend when my attitude gets too self-centered. It means asking my best friend to pray and pray and pray again. It means entrusting my babies to the younger, fun, girls who are available to babysit. It means being honest and humble. It means being imperfect, and being okay with being imperfect. It means remembering that even in this “season” of feeling like a hot mess, I am growing. Growing into the mom and the wife and the human that I was created to be. But, above all, it means remembering that while I lead, I am also being led, and loved, by the same caring God of the goslings.