A few years ago I used an exercise DVD with several types of exercise. One of my favorites was a beginner’s ballet routine. I followed it so many times–not that it turned me into a ballet dancer, but it did program some of the instructor’s words in my mind. Sometimes I still hear them.
One of the things she said about ballet was, “So the arms make it appear effortless at the top, while the legs are working hard at the bottom.” The beauty of this has intrigued me quite a lot because ballet is, in fact both very hard work and an elegant art of gentle movement.
Last night was one of those times I heard those hard-effortless words in my mind, but this time it had nothing to do with ballet. Instead it was a picture of the dance of mothering.
We are in the middle of upheaval right now since we discovered mold in our house. The boys and I left home and lived in SC for nearly a week and Virginia for a little over two weeks while Steve worked on getting rid of the mold in three rooms in the evenings and weekends after work.
We came home two weeks ago to our main living area crammed with the contents of other rooms waiting to be cleaned and sorted. Most of the living room furniture is in temporary storage and Steve and I are sleeping in the guest room while the master area is torn apart.
We definitely were reacting to the mold that is still in the house and tried to keep those parts of the house closed off as much as possible. Still we didn’t feel feel well at all.
This past weekend we all moved into a hotel for a weekend, so Steve could tackle the next three rooms–a closet and our master area. Our friends Eric and Linda so generously came up to spend the weekend with us. Eric helped Steve work on the house on Saturday and we got to enjoy time together.
Although the men got a lot of work done on the house, it wasn’t ready for us to move home on Monday like we had been expecting. We hadn’t taken our school books with us, so I planned a field trip to keep us from losing a school day. I planned to go to a nature reserve a few miles away, and they even happened to be hosting a homeschool day. Then it started raining.
I searched a little more and decided to take the boys to a train museum about a half an hour further north. It turned out to be a great, low key place for us and we all enjoyed our time there.
We killed a little time at a library close by, ate a little food then started toward home. I’d heard about a really great Christmas light display, and thought we could drive through on the way home. At that point I was so t.i.r.e.d., but how hard can a drive through be?
It was fantastically fun, only we ended up needing to get out and walk around. Finally everyone was packed back into the car and we were driving HOME after a long weekend away. I didn’t know what to expect at home, and besides for the mold there are lots of big things on our minds these days.
The boys were happy and there was Christmas music playing. Zac was sitting beside me, and his eyes were sparkling. He let out a long happy sigh. “This has been the best day of my LIFE.”
In that moment I recognized the contrast between my experience and his. And those words from long ago came back, “So the arms make it appear effortless on the top while they legs are working hard on the bottom.” They felt very true to my mothering in that moment.
In a sense mothering had been [working hard]
All day I’d been fighting to find joy while hard things pressed against me. I had also been thinking about how to make the change in plans work for us, how to incorporate school, how to keep this day happy for the boys even when it felt hard to me. I needed to redirect whining, find snacks, and keep boys safe on the street. I’d been looking out for places to eat that would work for our diets and places to go to fill our time without requiring a lot of energy from me because I wasn’t feeling great.
while also [making it look effortless]
All day we had been sleeping in, eating lots of good food, going to new places, stopping to play at a playground we passed, finding a bridge to run through, hanging out as long as we wanted in the museum’s educational play room, never rushing, visiting a great light display, listening to holiday music, and coming home and drinking hot chocolate.
Of course there’s a little bit of heart between the arms and legs for us, too–the times when they hear me recognize a problem and ask God to help us or when we talk about asking Jesus to help us find happiness or when we take our fears to Him. But mostly I love that the boys don’t really see the ugliness of life, yet.
Maybe because there’s so much hard stuff in our life I know our children will see and feel sacrifices and brokenness a lot. Obviously we want to engage them in processing it well, but I also want the boys’ childhood to be carefree. While there is all kinds of turmoil in our world and we’re working our way through it, they can lean back in their seats with stars in their eyes and see it as the best time in their lives. Effortless.
I’d love to hear what you have to say. Leave a comment here.