the boldness of wonder

Parenting requires boldness. It has taken me almost six years and three children to realize this. Pre-parenthood I assumed it required obvious things like patience and this worried me because I’ve never been very interested in developing patience. I was once told never to pray for patience unless I wanted a lot of life lessons that involved being made to wait around. So, instead of patience, I’ve asked for productive distractions and peace in the interim.

When I was pregnant with Sol, I prayed for the ability to forgive myself. I thought it was great foresight, a way of wrapping myself in courage for the inevitable mistakes I would make as a parent. I rolled that word forgiveness around in my mind while he was still a soft-moving series of tumbles and kicks; fingers and toes, elbows and knees beneath my skin. In the last months before his birth, I walked everywhere with my hand curved over my belly, monitoring this proof that I had a child inside of me. I was searching for clues about my future self – this mother, mama, mommy that I couldn’t imagine. I shared my special word with all of my closest friends. “Forgiveness,” I told them, nodding as if the word unlocked so many doors.

In the middle of writing this, Zaviera yells out in her sleep. I’m halfway down the hallway when she emerges from the bedroom, her hair tangled and in her eyes like she’s been doing somersaults. She falls into my arms, crying. She is warmth and weight and sweet scent climbing into the roost of my lap.  Balanced on the balls of my feet, I keep myself steady as she claims her space, grabs my arms and wraps them around her. A mommy seatbelt buckling her in.  I dreamed that Daddy left me, she wails.

Shhhhhhhhhhh, I whisper, Daddy will never leave you.

As I say the words, I realize it is a bold promise. I pick her up, proud that I can make it. Her father will never abandon her. Or me. It’s a security so basic – as fundamental as my heart beating – that it takes a moment of weaving through the darkness feeling the fear in my daughter’s body,  to remember its blessing.

I deposit her into Dan’s arms, explaining. Her eyes are already closing. As Dan tucks her beneath the blanket, he hands me the devotional he was studying. “Read it,” he says, and then he begins to hum to Zaviera, folding her into his warmth.

The sunrise is so consistent that we take it for granted, but few things are as miraculous as the celestial dance that takes place on a daily basis. Our planet spins around its axis at a speed of 1,000 mph. And while our planet does a 360 every 24 hours, it is also hurtling through space at an unimaginable speed of 67,000 mph…

I sit down at the table and the last line holds my mind:

In its most primal form, worship is wonder.

I had things backwards in those last months before Sol was born. I didn’t have to learn patience, it was waiting dormant in my body, a resource that regenerates itself during the pauses when I watch my children sleep. Forgiveness has become more than a choice, it’s survival. A necessary daily cleansing. It doesn’t work alone, either. Humility is its partner. What I failed to prepare for was the daily wonder and the boldness it would require of me.

My children stand on a planet whose gravity they are only  beginning to take for granted. In Zaviera’s mind, it is entirely possible that she might just stumble into a pocket of air where the rules don’t apply. I remember those days of discovery. My children scatter their wonder all around me until sometimes it is overwhelming. They simultaneously challenge and reassert my own sense of gravity. I ask Sol about his day and he proudly tells me that he spent it fighting bullies. I start to wonder what my agenda should be, what moral qualities I should be teaching my son, and then I stop myself. He is having a Grand Adventure, thank you very much. There is nothing to teach, so I listen. This listening is an act of boldness. I am choosing to trust my son’s nature. He smiles and I remember my own days of hunting ghosts in the first grade library, the battles against the Wombat at summer camp.

Later, when Joaquin climbs up into my lap, his belly soft, the bottom of his feet rough as though he’s already navigated so many miles of riverbanks and prickly meadows, I’m filled with that terror of how perfect he is and how that perfection is so fragile.

I think this is why we are handed the exhausting details, the nagging for glasses of juice, the bickering and whining – it’s a temporary reprieve from the primal worship of loving a child. Children move through their days like shooting stars, trails of light echoing their origin. A family, I realize, is a series of miracles set in an orbit so beautifully orchestrated that it requires boldness to feel it in its fullness.

I only allow myself glimpses.  I didn’t realize that this would be the area I needed forgiveness the most – for all of the moments when I’m overwhelmed by discovering God’s presence in the details of my children.

2 responses

    • Thank you. Writing it out is my way of being able to slow down those moments – they seem to slip past me like I’m standing in a clear river. It can be dizzying. Words are my foothold.

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