Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time watching Anderson fall. He is a brave and optimistic little boy, determined to learn to stand even when his little legs wobble, learning to tackle the world while towering above his normally assumed position of “army crawl.”
I’ve watched as he’s become more confident standing on his own two feet. I’ve been there to catch him when he’s collapsed. But now, I’m finding, there are simply times he needs to fall. And I can’t always be there to catch him. Even if I could, I would be keeping him from learning an important life lesson: how to fall gracefully.
I too, have taken my share of falls these last few months – some not as graceful as I would have liked. 2013 was a good year for me, one I will always cherish. I grew so much as a new mother, entered what felt like a whole new universe of love and purpose, bonded so deeply with my husband and son, and was really at peace with and proud of myself.
2014, on the other hand, has not been so buoyant. It feels like the helium has been slowly leaking out of my joy, pride and peace balloons, and I can’t figure out how to get them back to full floating strength. Like most people, I believe we have seasons of life when we are “up” and seasons when we are “down,” relatively speaking. This spectrum may vary drastically for some, and much more mildly for others. Even when we don’t think we’ve done anything to intentionally change the core of who we are or the general life course we’re charting, sometimes life just seems to drift a bit off track.
I have felt that way often thus far this year. I have just felt “off.” Unsettled, off-balance, distracted, insecure. I share these things, though personal, because I think everyone can relate to these feelings at some point in their life, and to the frustration of not being able to fully identify or remedy them.
This is a year I wouldn’t mind starting over. From the physical and emotional upheaval of moving to a new house, hormonal changes and mood swings, the bittersweet goodbye to babyhood as my son turns one, and additional “mixed bag” relational entanglements – this year has been a doozy. I’ve been more argumentative than normal, more easily hurt and defensive, and extremely critical of myself. I’ve lashed out at people I love and let others I barely know affect me way too much. In short, I’ve lost my groove and my grace. And I desperately want them back.
I haven’t even wanted to write in over a month, because I’ve felt so uninspired, insular and misunderstood. But I drug myself to my keyboard this weekend because this is important to me. It’s something I do for me, and it’s good for me. And sometimes you have to do those things, whether you feel like it or not.
When Anderson falls, he often cries, even if it’s only for a second. Sometimes he cries because he’s scared, like “Whoa! I didn’t know my butt could hit the ground that fast and that hard!” Sometimes he cries because he’s hurt. But sometimes, I think he cries, most of all, because he’s just embarrassed. Because life is just hard. And frustrating. And so awkwardly ungraceful sometimes. I think he cries because he just can’t believe he hasn’t figured this out by now. I think it boggles his little mind how he can keep falling in the same spot, in the same way, over and over again.
Don’t we all cry once in a while out of that same frustration and shame? Why do I keep falling? Haven’t I learned my lesson? I’m so embarrassed. I wish I could just pretend that day/decision/conversation never happened.
That has been my cry much of this winter. Wishing I could have lots of little do-overs, and a few big ones.
They say that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. I look forward to that turning point. I could use a little less lion and a little more lamb in my life.
PS – One of the big upsides of this rollercoaster of a season – Anderson turned ONE on March 6th! This is my favorite picture from his party, as I think it captures the love, closeness and clumsiness that is family .
And here is what he looked like when he realized he was done with his new favorite food: cake
PPS – For those of you who are wondering, I didn’t buy the cake, but I didn’t make one either. I found a middle ground and made cupcakes instead. I sort of feel like I copped out by not copping out, if that makes sense (and if you’re totally confused, see:
But they were yummy and cute and I’m glad I found the time to bake them, this time… Next year, with a toddler to chase around, you just might catch me swinging by the store.