“You just haven’t seemed yourself,” my husband flipped on the turn signal as we headed to one of our daughter’s last track meets of the season. Of her high school career. Soon our baby would slip into her cap and gown. She would flip her tassel and fly. He was right. Maybe I was a little out of sorts while my white knuckles clung to thoughts like a baby clutches a well loved blankie.
And to think I have tried sooooo hard to trace my own shadow and not be one of “those” moms. A person who doesn’t know who she is without jelly slathered fingers tugging her in the direction of the toy aisle. Or who hoards construction paper cards and tucks them neatly in a drawer like secrets she refuses to forget. She’s wrapped her whole self in it, misplacing her identity somewhere between the innings of baseball and cross country.
I mean, who does that? Let’s herself go while her tired body goes to bed at night with souls on her mind and prayers on her heart. Someone who looses sleep like skipped rocks across a pond. What is this small life? She wonders as she unpacks a shoe box marked, “FRAGILE.” She digs out a white owl, a pink octopus, and multicolored clay creations like she is setting free treasures from a time capsule. A person whose complexities are so simple she can be defined by one word. An orchestrated tune that when played backwards or forwards sounds the same—M-O-M.
And so I’ve totally lost myself. Somewhere in the pages of Winnie the Pooh, and nursery rhymes, and braided hair before bed. I’ve lost myself while looking for 4H handouts, and school supplies, and more detergent for the slathered suds of football jerseys. While making baked spaghetti for team dinners and stocking up on Gatorade, I’ve misplaced who I was in the nestled fibers of activity.
I don’t remember what used to make me tick. It is like a clock wound too tight to move. Time forgotten, replaced simply by squeezy hugs and smushy kisses that never wash off. Losing yourself takes work. It takes effort to lose every morsel of who you are. It takes work to build such a tiny house, a nest that holds heartbeats and large portions of love. A home that could only have been built piece by piece. Fiber by every painstaking fiber. I mean, who has time to think solely about themselves when they are so consumed with others?
Their own wants falling away while sacrifice and deep joy fall fresh like new dew on a rose. Their own self—the self before such a consuming, fierce love—a tiny speck on the horizon. Being lost isn’t that bad. Because you find a deeper faith, you can’t help it, loving others that way drives you towards a God who loves LARGE, You find that you are content in a large-tiny kind of way. Content in knowing God more-and yourself less. That a small life holds big blessings that cascades over the edges of your nest like a waterfall. And that losing ourselves is only when we really find ourselves.
We find ourselves having more time to love on others. Like the widow who is all alone, or the neighbor who lives down the street. You listen as he explains his wife has Alzheimer’s, and that he too has lost himself. He’s lost himself in the reflection of her love. He visits her everyday, holding her hand like when they were dating, and asks permission to call on her tomorrow. It is a small life that generates such big love.
And so I’m not worried that I can’t remember who I was before God took my mind off of me. Before he gave me the name of Mom. And although our nest is almost empty-our hearts are full. And I guess it’s true–I am one of “those” moms after all. What is this small life? I ask myself as I tuck the shoe box back on the shelf. It is the only life I ever want to know.