Do you ever look at something in pure awe and amazement? Like a metallic airplane flying in the sky as light as a bird? Or a massive boat floating in the ocean as if it weighs nothing? I do. I saw one yesterday. A HUGE boat, with tons of cargo. Just floating. And I took a minute to think about how crazy it is that something carrying so much can just float.
* * *
Yesterday we decided to go to the beach. My boys fought while I cleaned up breakfast. They fought while I packed lunch. They fought while I got our swimsuits packed. I heard my older one lock the gate on his little brother and the loud scream crying started. I ran over and clapped really loud in their faces with one of those mean mom looks that says, "I'm losing it, people!" I yelled some nonsense about what I would take away or not do or do if they kept fighting with each other and told them I was about to FREAK OUT. I am not sure what that means to them...or me. But it doesn't sound pretty. That calmed them....for a few minutes. But I didn't feel calm. Something felt off. Really the whole week had felt off.
We got to the beach. I got them dressed, put the sunscreen on, carried everything for miles through the sand, got it all set up at our spot, took their shoes off, got their toys out, put their floaties on, and sat down because I was starving. It was like they had some sort of "she is too comfortable radar" and one immediately started crying because the wind was bothering him. The other seemed like he might get pulled two miles down the coast by the waves if I didn't go yell to him to swim towards me. I called him back close, gave the crying one some sort of sugary something so he would stop crying, for the love. I sat down. They both grabbed the floatie at the same time and started to fight. I told them, "You guys and this wind are driving me crazy! I just need to eat!" They didn't seem to care. Why don't they ever care? I felt bumpier today. Jostled.
* * *
I remember after I had my first baby thinking that I could describe my whole purpose in life now as carrying someone. I thought it was so marvelous that for the rest of his life I would be able to carry him in some way. Carry his heart, carry his food, carry him to school, carry him through the hard years of being a teenager, carry his dreams, carry his thoughts, carry his heartbreak, carry his love, carry him towards Christ, carry his joy.
I could be like this massive boat, carrying all my children to their destination. I would have my sails up and float majestically through the waters with all the pieces of my heart safely on board.
I just didn't think about how hard those little passengers would be on me. They won't worry about that small tear in one of the masses that is slowly getting bigger. They won't notice the creaks of my boards feeling tired. Most of the time me floating will be the expectation, not the miracle. I will get warped and leaks from so many days of being constantly on the water. Those little passengers won't always concern themselves with how heavy their boots feel stepping on me or how often they spill on me. I am their boat. I carry them.
* * *
I love the beach. All the crying and fighting and sand and work is worth it to me. I don't love getting home from the beach. I am tired, hungry, a little sun burnt, and can't imagine anything worse than unloading a million things from the car, bathing two exhausted children, making dinner, and putting them to bed without having some sort of mild anxiety attack. Yesterday was especially bad. It seems that this week a mini storm has been brewing inside of me. Not enough sleep, too many hormones, beginning to pack up my house in preparation to move across the country. That extra little pocket of patience I like to save up for special occasions like getting home from the beach had already been used up or lost a few days ago. They were being good little shipmates, but they were irritating me nonetheless. I unloaded everything, got them in the bath, endured the crying during the shampoo, got their sticky little bodies dressed even though it seemed extra impossible (why won't that hand just come through the arm sleeve already!?!? I mean. Do they make pajamas tight like that just to make me want to tear my sandy hair out?), made them dinner, and sat down to eat mine. Before I had taken a bite it was immediate, "Mom, I dropped that! Mom, I need that! Mom, tell us a story!"
* * *
Most of the time I love that those passengers are so well taken care of on top of my deck. I love to hear them laughing and eating and living as I carry them. "What a beautiful life!" I think as I float along. Yes, I am leaking a little and have a small tear. Yes, I am dirty and creaking from all of the use, but those little crew mates...they are worth it.
But sometimes my holes feel bigger than "little." And sometimes that tear starts ripping faster. Sometimes I start to sail right into a storm, and it is like nobody even notices. Keep sailing, Mom. We need you, Mom. Keep carrying us, Mom.
* * *
I tried a couple, "Stop asking me for stuff!" or, "I have been running around getting your food for the last twenty minutes, just let me eat, or I am going to... (you guessed it) FREAK OUT!" But they just continued to bang on me. The storm was feeling heavy now. The wind was blowing strong and the waves that usually barely move me seemed huge enough to tip me over. My passengers were not doing anything different than any other night. I am sure they wondered why their boat was rocking so much tonight.
I began to wonder, too. Why can't I calm the wind? Why won't this storm leave me alone this week?
I remembered that boat I saw. It was floating. I had been too far to see all tears and dirt, too far to hear all its creaking and moaning. I had just seen it floating. It had so much to carry. Surely it had been through many storms. But it was still floating. That was amazing all by itself.
* * *
"Boys, I am feeling really grumpy. I am not sure why, but I don't feel like myself. I am trying to choose to be nice, but it feels hard right now. Could one of you say a little prayer for me?"
"Dear Heavenly Father, please bless Mommy to be nice and not grumpy."
* * *
My tear continued to rip last night. My deck went on creaking. But I was floating. All that carrying can feel really hard in a storm. Floating, just floating, is pretty amazing. It is ok to feel the heavy boots and not like it sometimes. I am proud that I am floating.