I tried to write last week. In an effort to get all my thoughts out of my head, I poured it out and I typed. Then I cried and typed some more, but I didn’t have the courage to press “Publish.”
Every word was dark. I couldn’t find a way to wrap it up neatly with encouragement and inspiration, because there wasn’t any to be found.
I was lost in the wild of mothering.
It went a little like this:
This morning before my eyes had even opened I knew what kind of a day I would have. My chest had that familiar feeling, as though the weight of yesterday hadn’t dispelled away into the night as it should. It had settled instead. When I willed my eyes to open I looked right down into my baby’s, beaming her happiness up into my haze.
She is four months old today.
I have now nurtured three human beings through each of their first four months on earth. An entire year of my existence – nurturing and sustaining brand new life. This should convince me that I am qualified.
So why, why is it crowding in on me today, this paralysis of my lungs?
I try to think back to when my second child was four months old, and close my eyes a bit tighter to seven years ago, remembering my firstborn. Journeying back that far is like navigating down a long and darkened hallway, shrouded in shadows, but familiar enough that I manage to make it through with only a stub of my toe into a doorframe. Slowly, the memories spread over me, like fog rolling over in the morning. Four months old…
Four months is just long enough for the exhaustion to have seeped into your bones. It is just long enough for the neglected bathroom floors to have built up enough filth to finally repulse you. Four months is just the right time to try to throw your favorite springy, peach-colored top on, and just enough time for the tears of shame to fill your eyes when you find it still doesn’t fit. Four months is all it takes to fall completely in love with someone, so much so, that the depths of the fall can overtake you. It is just long enough to have been treading with all your might to keep afloat in whirlpool; just long enough to entertain the idea of sinking.
Four months is exactly the amount of time I require to figure out I’m drowning.
And today, right on cue, I awoke and couldn’t find the air.
Yes, I remember now; four months is exactly when my postpartum sinks in. Sinks me.
And yet, all week I managed to keep going. I awoke and clothed, fed and nursed, moved our things in-and-out from the washer to the dryer, moved my children in-and-out from our home and to the car and to the park and back again. I cooked and bathed and rocked and sang. What other choice did I have?
But all along, I felt lost in the wild. Each night I prayed that I would wake and embrace the newness of the day. Yet nothing feels new when you are wandering; it only feels foreign.
It wasn’t until we were driving through Central Texas, heading to celebrate Easter with our family, that I began to feel reprieve.
Up and down the highways, the wildflowers are in bloom. Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush, and Buttercups blanket the vibrant, green grasses with bursts of purples, pinks and blue. It has always fascinated me, the way that their explosions of color along the interstate can restore even the busiest, most industrial of places to wilderness again. A stretch of pavement infiltrated by billboards and semi trucks, strip malls and gas stations, and millions of people rushing, somehow becomes softer, purer, simply by their presence.
Mesmerized by the patches of blossoms blending into a sea of reverence as we sped by, I realized why wildflowers hold such a dear space in my heart: they are wondrous for blooming in the most complicated of places. Untamed, neglected, yet thriving — steadfast in their refusal to be extinguished by the hurriedness of the world.
They are not beautiful in spite of their wildness; their wildness is what makes them beautiful.
The bluebonnets bled together even more deeply as the tears filled my weary eyes.
I am wildflower. Persistent in growing in the most complicated of places.
Dear mama who feels lost, you are a wildflower, too.
And in this season of motherhood, this springtime where our worlds are teeming with life, we must not be lost to the wildness of the growth; we are called to rise up and blossom.
And above all, we must believe in the sacred beauty of the wild.