It’s spring here, officially, although you wouldn’t know it from the twenty degree weather. A thin layer of snow covers everything like dust in an attic. Where the grass pops through, it’s brown and wilted. A season of plowing has left tire ruts in the ground along the driveways, a bent sapling, stray rocks on the lawn. A months-old snow pile sits at the end of the parking lot, shrunken and black with exhaust.
It’s still cold enough for scarves and gloves but I leave them at home. I’m tired of the barrenness. We walk out in the mornings and breathe through our noses, waiting for the scents of pollen and buds and soil. Our spring clothes are ready, sealed in plastic bins in the corner of the closet.
I long for children running and shouting in a place that is not my living room.
I long for forecasts that don’t use phrases like “wind chill” and “lake effect.”
I long for news stories that don’t use words like “victimized” and “unconscious” together.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday, and I long for arrivals: for lush green palms to cover the dusty paths, for sun-kissed knees and shins and forearms and ankles, for breezes thick with life. For hope.
Come, Lord Jesus. Save us.
My daughter’s preschool is very close to our house. Each school day, my husband walks her there on his way to work.
Yesterday morning we had one of the first real days of winter around here. We got her all bundled up with her hot pink fur-lined boots and her fleece ball-topped hat and her princess scarf. She and her dad headed up the driveway hand-in-hand. As soon as they reached the front of the house, the wind whipped fiercely at them. My snow-loving daughter tried really hard not to cry… and my husband scooped her up and carried her. It was a sweet moment to watch – my husband high-stepping through drifts on unplowed sidewalks, her face pressed against his chest, his arms holding her tightly and her fur-lined boots swinging a little on her dangling legs. I would’ve taken a photo but that meant pulling my nose away from its spot pressed against the front window, and I didn’t want to miss a second of it.
My husband shows my daughter love like this all the time. We tell her and we shower her with kisses and tickles and we are audiences to some very off-key but earnest singing and dancing performances around here. But these walk-to-school moments are the ones that catch my throat. Here’s why:
I think someday my beautiful little girl is going to meet a boy who tells her he loves her when he doesn’t. He may be lying. Or he may think he loves her. And I think that, even if my daughter desperately wants to believe his words, she will have all these little memories that have defined real love for her written on her heart like little post-it notes. So when she meets a guy who says “Hey baby, I love you” but doesn’t live up to his words, the little red post-it flags in her heart will start waving and she will know that he doesn’t really love her. I know she will want him to and I know she may even convince herself on the surface that he does. It may take a few broken hearts to really figure it out.
But she will know.
And then, someday, my beautiful little girl is going to meet someone who really does love her. And he is going to be an imperfect person but a good person, a moral person and a loving person. They are going to laugh. A lot. And then one day they are going to step out into the world and be knocked almost off their feet by whatever fierce winds fly at them. In that moment when her eyes well up from the stinging cold, he is going to brace his back against that wind and pull her to his chest, and even though he has never done that before, it will feel familiar.
And she will know.
I live in the wintery north. No matter how many winters I weather, it’s still scary to hit a patch of ice when driving. I’m always afraid that I will lose all control and careen down the road, the houses flying by while I turn my steering wheel and pump the brakes in vain until I crash into something large, damaging and expense-incurring.
Parenting feels like that. Sometimes I am enjoying a relaxing drive, and other days the world is flying past my windows at frightening speed and I am just trying to stop for a moment and get some traction.
This blog is traction. It’s my chance to chronicle the pauses and hang on to some moments that are flying by far too quickly. It’s my opportunity to take my hands off the wheel and stop controlling, at least for a moment. And breathe. And write. And laugh a little. And it’s a chance to look back at the tracks my wheels have left and to realize that the journey so far has been pretty great.
And then…. I pump the gas pedal, hit some ice, and careen some more.