This week ushers in some big changes for us. A new season, if you will, (though I have strong opinions about the literal season still being solidly summer).
My mom used to try to ease our fears of a ruckus, March thunderstorm by saying, “the warm air and cold air are fighting, but don’t worry, Spring always wins!"
In our house, the seasons of toddler and preschooler are at war, and no matter how much I hate to see my baby go, time is winning this one.
Most of the time all the big words and sass keep me grinning behind my hand or all out laughing. But there’s a sharp edge. Her soft, sensitive spirit is sometimes muddled beneath a mountain of attitude. Stomping feet and side-eyes make regular appearances.
The other night she tallied up a decent number of salty comments.
I kept my interactions cordial, but big emotions were brewing. New realities of two kids in school and complicated schedules and a new job and Dr. appointments loomed. How would it all come together and get done? How is my little birdie face baby saying the alphabet and getting ready to trot into a classroom? Will she wet her pants or get a PreK detention for calling another child chicken doo doo?
The changing weather was ripe for kicking up a storm.
I lugged watering cans around the house, trying to resuscitate plants on the brink of death by desiccation. Her mouth ran non-stop, going from baby-talk to big girl negotiations with her sister about who could ride the scooter. She was incessant about me watching her every trick.
As I labored by with overflowing cans in each hand, she intercepted me and, with her giant-wheeled pink plastic tricycle, nearly cut me off.
I barked instructions. She was moved, but not to repentance. She shoved her trike and flopped to the ground.
After a few moments, I told her I was happy to get her to bed if she was done playing. She lit off the concrete, grabbed a handle bar, and attempted to launch her plastic mobile through the garage door. It bounced right back to her, and she shoved it again, with double the force.
And the thunder rolled.
I tossed the watering cans down. I’ve grown a lot of endurance for dramatic fits the past year, but this time the barometric pressure was grizzly.
After moving her briskly towards bed, we stopped on her white, faux sheep skin rug, and sank into its softness.
Suddenly both of us were still and sad.
I looked at her, shifting and sniffing involuntarily. The clouds that were heavy with anxiety, exhaustion, and sorrow over the season we’re leaving, let loose. I turned my head away, face in hands.
I felt her put her hand on the edge of the bed then back down, and ever-so-softly, it rested on my arm. I pulled her into my lap.
She lifted her head from my chest, her face focused. In a soft, strangely mature voice she said carefully, “I’m sorry I said the dinner you made wasn’t too promising.” The last word choked out of her quavering lips, and a tear spilled down one cheek, but she put her head on my shoulder and didn’t make a sound.
“She’s even crying like a big girl now”, my heart groaned.
“I forgive you, sweetie. I love you so much.” I looked in her eyes. “Reacting in anger is never the right choice”, I said through a tight throat. “It’s not how I want to handle problems, and I’m always sorry, so sorry, when my response is mean.”
Two tears overflowed her eyes, a silent witness to the sensitivity that is ever-present beneath the sass.
Relationships are always moving and changing, dropping the familiar leaves, and then bursting forth in fresh growth again. Beneath the hot upheaval is the cool undercurrent of new life. New development, new schedules, new responsibilities, new fears, new problems, new understanding. From time to time the warm and cold are bound to collide.
I’m learning that like the current, emotions are better felt than fought. Identifying the feelings threatening to pull you under can help you lean into them and stabilize, rather than thrash in panic or anger or isolation that would like to drown you.
For me, each new season churns up the shame that would like to cloud my vision and cover me in muck. I start thinking “how are we here already? What all have I missed? If only I could have savored better, loved better, been better! I wanted to hurry those long days, and now I’ll never have them back!”
Sadness and regret and anxiety over how I’ll mess up the next season clamor for their turn at the mic. Often, I get swept up in the tumult of the current and in the frantic gasps for air, do the very things I desperately DON’T want to do: pull away, react in anger, sink in despair.
If, instead of fighting, I pay attention and lean in, I realize the tide will actually carry me towards connection. It might be messy and teary, but it brings about honesty and we all learn together to talk through our feelings, to listen, to validate, to forgive. The bad news is, it's learned more in the storms and the strong currents, less on the sunny, smooth sailing days.
Mom's words calm me still. I see their truth in the seasons, the tenderness of my daughters, and the Still, Small voice speaking to my tumultuous spirit.
Spring, with its new life, warm days, and fresh air, always wins over March’s rough skies.
Grace, with its renewed hope, warm compassion, and fresh mercies, always wins over the rough skies of change.
Is it dark and windy in your life? Is the thunder of change or regret or big emotions rattling your windows?
Don’t worry Grace wins.
On one of my passes to the bathroom that night to gather more TP for our tears, I flipped on the light and peered at my face in the mirror. Hair succumbed to humidity. Eyes puffy. Cheeks littered with dust and mascara. Dirt still on my fingernails.
Back at Sami’s side, she looked up and said, “You look so pretty tonight, Mom.”