Any parent tends to think about nourishment now and again—-or maybe every meal, snack and bite that we prepare for our kids. Are we cobbling together enough to keep them satisfied? The right balance to ensure healthy growth? And even more important, do we manage to eek out a **FEW** meals that provide nourishment for something deeper—connection with family over the table through conversation, however disjointed it might be.
I love this quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. In case your reader or blog feed won’t let you read the words in the picture above, here’s the quote again:
A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart’s. To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back — it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it.
Often the nourishment we need and seek can not be found through the means we employ—-holding on tightly, possessively clutching, touching heavily. In fear, left to our own ways, we too often think we can nourish relationships through control. Lindbergh reminds us that the pattern that can be created, the dance to be experienced is so much richer, moving, beautiful and **nourishing** when we let go and move to the same rhythm, not necessarily the same steps.
I am finding myself in a season that can often feel parched, dry and endless. Like childbirth, I think I blocked out the emotional and mental stamina needed to parent a 2 year old. They are relentless. Today, I savored 2 hours of alone time by deep cleaning our bathrooms with Clorox. What does that tell you?!? I’m **nourished** because I can clean in peace without interruption?!? What is this world coming too?? Night after night, we are suffering through sleep issues with the boys—one is suffering from night terrors and the other from bad dreams. I often feel like they are tag-teaming, planning out a new and devious scheme to keep me from shut eye and the nourishment of consistent sleep.
I write this here to remember, to remind myself that one day they will sleep through the night. One day they will both be capable of entertaining themselves so I can get some other chores done. One day I might have enough stamina to do more that survive each day til I can plop on the couch at 8pm, exhausted. Maybe, one day….
How do we find nourishment in these moments—-moments when I don’t even register what would BE nourishing. How do we provide nourishment for our children? True rest when fears and dreams fill their heads? Meals that satisfy when their picky likes and dislikes prevail? Time of connection and conversation and bonding when our own eyelids are heavy and our hearts are tired?
Lately, I have tried to remind myself that all of the “screaming” voices of culture (aka Pinterest & Facebook), are not the end all, be all. Sometimes, turning on the sprinkler as the temperature soars into the 90s is necessary. Maybe embracing the school’s spirit week—wearing mustaches, Hawaiian gear, baseball garb or super hero outfits makes all the difference. Could nourishment surprisingly be found walking in the walk-a-thon in 90 degree heat?!? Yes, maybe even there.
I wondered what this stage would look like in my life—parenting two boys, being a “stay-at-home-mom”, keeper of the calendar, diaper changer, dishwasher unloader, dinner maker. Sometimes those moments, as much as I’d like to hope, don’t feel life giving. In the midst of the exhaustion, I seek out hope. Hope in something much stronger and firmer than food, experiences and memories.
I keep seeing images before me…reminders that even when I want to cry and pitch a temper tantrum….
….that it really makes more sense to call on friends. To enjoy some time away from the bunnies. There is no guilt in that. Pure nourishment.
How do the kids find nourishment? Alex wears his winged shoes. Drew dances out in the rain. (or wears a Davy Crockett hat….obviously)
And some moments, under and through and in between the chaos, there are glimpses at these PEOPLE we are raising. Encouraging our boys to love with abandon. To shower others with flowers and love. To write their stories. To look out into the world and see “outside” themselves. To be men of adventure.
At Open House, we got to see Alex’s work from Kindergarten. It was surreal to attend Open House as a parent, and not a teacher. To see his self-portraits from August and May and observe the growth that has unfolded.
These moments, if we pay attention, nourish. It’s like that “goo energy gel” that you suck down on a long run. You slurp down some reality and it energizes. A chance to gain perspective and see we are raising PEOPLE. No huge surprise, but a truth often lost in the day-to-day survival of parenting.
I’m not sure if mine will end up a politician, a pizza delivery boy, a mattress salesman, a smoothie maker or comedian…..
….but in the moments where I cling hard in control, desperately seeking nourishment, running on empty—-it’s time to look them in the eye. See them for who they are and enter the dance and help them create the unique pattern that they are weaving with their lives.
And then pray to GOD that they sleep through the night just ONCE this week!