when to bend and when to break

Mothering is often about lessons:  lessons I’m learning, lesson I’m teaching.  I guess all of life is like that, really, but for me it is amplified in my experience of being a mother.  Mothering puts things into perspective; it opens me up to see life as a series of moments.  It also can help make things that are intangible and abstract very concrete and ordinary.

Today’s lesson was in flexibility.  This idea can really trip me up. Of course life demands some amount of give and sway, but also, especially with very young ones, it can be my job to hold firm boundaries.  I shouldn’t be surprised that so much of mothering, just like other areas in life, is very Spirit-led,and  intuitive by nature.  Knowing when to hold one of these in esteem higher than the other can be such a feeling in my gut — when to bend and when to break.  All too often, however, I miss it.  Not today.

Here’s my scene:  a morning shopping trip to Ikea.  Sometimes we go just to pass some time on a day when we’ve been cooped up, but this was not the case today.  I actually had some very specific things I needed to look at.  There were measurements that I wanted to check out, notes to jot down.  I had a bit of an agenda.  We met friends there, and the energy level was high from the beginning.  After corralling this gang a bit,  we were making progress, until one thing led to another, and the Eldest had a little head bump.  He does not handle these moments well — he is easily embarrassed, and I could see his eyes well up as he tried to play the tough guy.  All of this emotion mixed with the riled-up physical energy, and as I tried to hug him and check on his hurt, he began to melt down.  Our time at Ikea, my time to get a few things accomplished, came to an abrupt end.  I knew in my gut that it was time for us to go, gently encouraging him to calm down, but knowing that I was making the hard call to abandon our plans.  It was a moment that called for me to bend.  I needed to flexible to the needs of the situation, to trust my gut as a mother and know that I was making the right choice.  Flexibility.  Swaying under the stress of the wind.  Moving with the moment.

Our day straightened up a bit after this, and we were all anticipating swimming lessons this afternoon.  The weather was up in the air — I had been checking the hourly weather report all through lunch and naps.  The message online was clear and sunny, but the view out my window told a different story.  It was time to make a call:  stick with the plan, or toss it.  The Eldest was still napping (today?  really?) and soldiering on meant waking him up.  Sigh.  But what are a few sprinkles if you’re already wet in the pool?  This time I decided to hold fast to the plan.  Even as I was pulling onto the highway to make the twenty minute drive, I clicked on my wipers and wondered if I was being foolish in not letting go of this afternoon’s agenda.   And you know what?  Yes, it rained during our swimming lesson.  Yes, he was a shivery mass of teeny tiny body when he got out of the pool.  Yes, I was busy trying to keep my phone dry, keep his towel dry, eyeing the dark clouds in the sky.  But it was his best swimming lesson yet.  He was brave, he was strong, and he was so stinkin’ proud of himself.  I trusted myself, I went with my gut, and I was proud of myself, too.

Today I was a tree.  Deeply rooted, firmly grounded, swaying in the wind.  Bending, but not breaking.  Perhaps even showing signs of new growth.


3 thoughts on “when to bend and when to break

  1. It’s such an incredible dance, this mothering. Some days call for bending, some for breaking, and some for both. And another day might be exactly the opposite. Thank Goodness (truly) we have a God to lead us… or encourage us when He is silent, letting us work through the day 🙂

  2. How true! Lots of lessons are being taught and learned here as I try to teach my LadyBug to nap in her own cot. Bending but not breaking yet though ;). Thanks for sharing your heart.

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