Heavenly Father, thank you for today. Thank you for our family and friends and for the love that we all share…
These are the words I remember being spoken over me, while I laid down to rest as a child. It’s how I remember my mother beginning her prayers, it’s how I end the days with my own children, standing in their doorways, sometimes more scattered or rushed than I ought to be, letting the words rush out from my lips, more like a spilled glass than a carefully poured thought.
Kind of like how I feel I’m doing much of motherhood, or life in general, lately.
Nine days out of ten, I’m a spilled glass.
I’m rushing. I’m distracted. I’m words without enough thought. And thoughts where there aren’t any words to be said. I’m sneakers on pavement, on trails, in the rain, in the wind, into the woods. I’m going, going, going. But…to nowhere, just as far as I can, before I have to turn around to get back to work, to dinner plans, to bath times and goodnight prayers.
And then, just when I’m sure that I’m just going to pass out from emotional or physical exhaustion, from being non-stop, Evaline comes in to help me as I’m making my bed. She lifts the pillows and lowers them to the ground, she helps me pull up the sheet on her father’s side of the bed. She sets the duvet, helps me check to make sure the side with the buttons is down by where our feet will go. She smooths her hands over it all, mimicking me, when we’re done.
Then, she curls her (almost) five-year-old body onto my lap, here on the neatly made bed. I breathe in her sweet (freesia body spray scented) hair, (thank you, Lila) and I kiss her forehead. And it’s like coming home.
It’s like swimming back to the surface and finally refilling my lungs.
She peeks over my shoulder and points to Vinnie’s backpack, left by our bedroom door after our hike yesterday.
I don’t want to do what we did the day before today, again. The walk with that thing. She tells me, referring to our climbing Mt. Monadnock. For a minute, I’m confused, because she didn’t complain once in the three or four hours we were out there, and she literally rocked the entire hike. She pulled her body up over steep inclines, she scrambled over tree roots, found her footing to move upward over the stones. She was amazing, inspirational.
Why not? I thought you did a great job, yesterday.
Not coming down, she tells me. I fell, two times. She touches the back of her head, where she bumped a rock. She pulls up her jeans to show me the scrape, where she stumbled over a stone. I got hurt.
I understand that fear. Going up, you have an exciting goal, you have a view to look forward to. You have time to calculate how you can make the climb, where you can get your best footing.
Coming down is harder. It’s faster and trickier. Somehow the questions of where to put your foot next, or which path you should take, don’t have time to be answered, before gravity is helping you on your way.
And getting hurt, who enjoys that?
Oh, but, Evaline, you climbed a mountain! I tell her. Don’t let your fear of getting hurt, stop you from doing amazing, good things! Do you know that sometimes the things that hurt us can also help us become stronger? Life is always ups and downs. You can’t get to the top of a mountain and just stay there forever. You’ve got to navigate your way back down, always. There is always the good with the bad. But, you can focus on the good. The amazing. The wonderful.
I’m waxing poetic now. I’m talking to twelve year-old Melanie, scribbling angst-ridden journal entries in her bedroom. I’m talking to twenty year-old, Melanie, wandering the streets of Romania, unsure of anything else in her life, beyond the next footstep in front of her. I’m talking to my daughters, to my children, to my wanderlust-but-burned-out-self. I’m talking…
Until I realize that Evie is blinking at me, and I feel like I’ve been busted for being too loquacious.
Okay! She quips and jumps from my lap, bouncing off to play with Lila and Laney.
And, here I am.
No, really. Here, I am.
Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. Thank you for our family and friends and for the love we all share. Thank you for legs that work, and a body that can climb mountains. Thank you for little ones who strive to keep in stride with me. Thank you for friends who do, too. Thank you for children who sense when I need to be grounded, who curl up on my lap and give me a moment of pause, in the days when I keep lacing up shoes that are going nowhere and back again.
And thank you, that this is where my back-again, is.