with mustard

When my kids were young and we were out and about, I often found myself optimistically urging, "Let's catch up." The objective may have been big sister surging ahead in search of frogs beside a stream, or Daddy making long strides across the park. What made it fun for us lag-behinds in our potentially disadvantaged situation was adding a bit to what I first said. "Let's catch-up. With mustard."

Visions of hot dogs and french fries helped me, at least, and sometimes my children, summon a burst of new energy.

Those mommyhood days captured and deserved every drop of limited energy I possess. They were wonderful, except probably most of all for wondering too much: what people thought; whether I was failing worse than anyone; how I might ever rest; well, you who are reading are possibly someone who knows the list by heart. Or knows how it feels to imagine these things, watching someone else live their mommying phase.

Back then I swam the jelly river of stress pretty regularly. I guess flailed in that river is how to describe it. I tend to blame my chest-wall pains and panics on the demands of Christianity, as I was practicing it then at home and in church. There really was a lot of confusion and despair within my American Bible-based conservative nondenominational scene. But overall I think, looking back now, I was simply in the situation I had chosen and had found myself in. With a lot of other folks. Most of whom tried to make progress, as well, against a sticky current.

(I guess I obviously prefer salty, fast-food entries to sweet spreads on toast.) Anyway, stressed and despairing as I was, I was learning. Preparing. What would come next would be better.

Thankfully, the parenthood phase which I traveled with middle-to-late teens took place in a Christian situation I chose with gladness and rested in profoundly. I still stressed myself out, but I was all the while gulping wonderful insights. Full-course meals, perhaps. I loved hunkering down with my Bible and my books. And my journals and my writing. Going inward, inward. Staying calm. It was intriguing. It was enough. I was, yeah, well a little, a hermit. I was more certain of everything than probably I will have been at any time in my life, when all's said and done.

Still and once again, I was preparing.

Today I have grownup children around me. None of us consume many condiments, and we each go our own way, yet we process together somewhat often about Christianity. This phase, I expect, will burst the seeds from their pod, a few seconds into my future, and there will be fresh mommy- and daddyhoods happening, and stress, and preparation.

I think now in some sense I am the toddler, the one lagging and surging off toward the pretty butterfly, the one who must pause and consider something wonderful about movement in my own tiny self that others have long been accustomed to. I may never grow accustomed. I don't imagine I'll get bored, either. I may joyfully choose the long way though I never catch up.


Dee Ready said…
Dear Deanna,
The journey to find the inner meaning of our life is, I've found, long and rewarding. It can be difficult, tedious, spontaneous, joyous--many things. But if we journey with expectation and openness to possibility, then all is revealed. I wish you God's speed on your journey.

Deanna said…
Thank you, Dee. I've enjoyed reading about your journey, and I wish you the best as it continues, as well.
Wonderful essay, Deanna. Your phrase, "the jelly river of stress" is incredibly evocative. I, too, joyfully choose the long way. As for catching up, remember the tortoise and the hare?
Deanna said…
I do, Beth. Exactly. Wish I might have more often during younger years. Thanks.