Until We Can Find Our Way to More
Lessons from an afternoon walk
“You can’t run out in the road! You have to hold my hand. Do you understand how dangerous this is?”
I heard her strained voice long before I stepped out of the trail that leads through a patch of woods near my house in Seattle. My little dog, Jasper, was picking his way through the suddenly purple flowers and the moss, stopping to smell for the bunnies and raccoons that used this shortcut, too. After a moment, we emerged onto the sleepy side street.
And, yup, it was about what you’re imagining. One exasperated mother pleading with what looked to be a 4-year-old boy as she chased him to the side of the road. Luckily, there was no traffic and probably wouldn’t be any for a while.
The boy had chosen a safe place for his antics, although he seemed utterly unaware of the constant risk assessment his mother was likely making in her head — but this is how we are when we are mothers, protective instincts never stopping.
You have a baby … and life suddenly becomes a constant weighing of fun versus the possibility of sudden death.
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Her boy stopped and swung an arm about a tree and … running … looped himself continually around the trunk, like kids often do. His hair was thick and brown and he was smiling.
Jasper’s collar jingled and the mom turned, startled to see us emerge from the woods (unless you know the path is there, it all just looks like an overgrown lot built into the hillside of a city).
In that moment, I knew how she felt.
Worn out, frustrated, probably unappreciated … and now slightly embarrassed, in the long tradition of moms trying to make their children behave in public while strangers look on.
I wanted to let her off the hook.
“I’ve been there,” I said with a nod as I passed her, the boy still circling the tree perched right on the edge of the road. You could see why she was worried.
I heard her exhale. “Oh, you know,” she said with a smile, “Some days …”
I looked back while I kept walking, Jasper steady and sure where we were heading. We take this path often. Nothing was going to slow him down.
“Want to know the good news?” I called, pointing to her son. “My kids are 22 and 25. They hardly ever do that now.”
She started laughing. “There’s hope, then?” Her boy kept spinning.
“There’s always hope, “ I said loudly, maybe even a bit gleefully, and turned to the right to follow my dog up the hill.
She didn’t hear me next when I dropped my voice to Jasper, who was leaning hard into the incline, his little legs scurrying under him. I didn’t want her to hear me. She needed to stay in the light.
“Sometimes hope is all we have. But it has to be enough until we can find our way to more.”
Jasper paid no attention to my words. Overhead, the passenger airplanes lined up for the northern approach to SeaTac. And somewhere a big dog started barking slowly and intermittently like he didn’t really care but he had to make a show of it.
We’ve tried on so many careers that we never got paid for in motherhood. I remember when my kids were young and I was in college-I thought that getting a Bachelor of Education degree remarkably parallel my daily life! Thank goodness we practice wringing out every bit of hope we can and if we have extra we share with others who can’t find as much☮️
I love this one. Happy Mother’s Day!