arms wide full

Thursday, July 28, 2016

There's a dance craze that's been going on for centuries, maybe since the beginning of time.  It's immediately recognizable, I'm sure you've seen it and probably done it yourself.   I call it the babymomma shuffle.  you know that one? There's variations on the moves, but at it's basic level, it's a momma holding a baby and bouncing or swaying gently.

I've been doing the babymomma shuffle for the past six years, almost continuously, so my body does it even when I'm not holding a baby.  It might be cause for concern.

In any case, the other week in church, I handed my Rusty off to Gigi to give my arms a short break from the babymomma shuffle.  (Gigi of course, immediately started the Grandmomma shuffle - which is nearly identical to the babymomma shuffle only even more gentle and snuggly).  And there I was standing with my empty arms, trying to remind my body that I could stop swaying, when Violet reached her arms up and whispered, 'hold you me.'

And so, I scooped her up and started another round of the babymomma shuffle.

I've always appreciated when people speak about 'the season of their life', both because it's a beautiful description and also because it acts as a reminder that it is short lived (short being a relative length of time, of course).  Considering the stages of my life as seasons, gives me strength to go on when the going gets tough while also bringing light to my experiences that make them glisten a little more brightly in all their unquestionably finite glory. 

In terms of seasons,  this is the season of my life; of my motherhood, where my arms are perpetually full.  

My arms are mostly full with the weight of our babies.  Our sweet infant Rustin who's favorite place in his whole world is in my arms, head resting on my chest while my heartbeat thump, thump, thumps in his ear.  Our Violet Mary, stuck square between baby and toddler who wants to be held, but not too long - who wants help, but not too much - who wants to be big but also little.  Our Gemma who wants hugs and twirled and movie-start dipped, and snuggled.  She fills my hands with ponytail holders, and nail polish, and baby dolls who need their clothes changed, please. And our Greyson who wants this ball thrown, caught, kicked, passed, and 'can you please find my mitt?' 

If it's not our kids, there are plenty of other things that need my arms' attention; piles upon never ending piles of dirt-stained, (occasionally bodily fluid soaked), wrinkled, mismatched laundry.  Meals that need prepped, cooked, served, and cleaned up, a vacuum that needs run, toys that need picked up, photos that need captured, dogs that need walked, toilets that need scrubbed. 

It can be overwhelming and exhausting.  

Sometimes it feels like my arms are so full that there is no room for anything else.  No room for anything extra; anything that falls outside of the category of  'absolutely necessary to get done today or else' tasks.  My arms feel full with everyone else's stuff - everyone else's needs.  With arms wide full, it feels near impossible to reach around and hug myself; show myself any kindness or reprieve for the everyday march of raising young kids.  I am so accustomed to having full arms, that when they are empty I have a gnawing sense of guilt- what could I be doing right now to take advantage of this moment, what am I supposed to be doing right now with these empty arms!?

But I would be remiss to ignore the fact that with arms wide full, life is also incredibly wonderful.  My mind keeps floating to that Annie Dillard quote that I love so very much ...and what that means for my life, at least in this season: 

Part of my life has been spent, is being spent - holding and loving our babies - the whole weight of their bodies and most of their emotions resting within my arms; filling them up to fullness each and everyday.  

For now, for this season - however long it may last (and please, let it be a long one no matter how much I may take it for granted daily), I will gladly and gratefully live with my arms wide full. 

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