Last weekend I attended the West Virginia Writer’s Conference. It was the first time I’ve been away from my children overnight. And it was actually a two night stay.
Did I miss them?
I thought I would, but no, actually, I didn’t. And I struggled with that.
I know that when we leave our children, we should immediately feel like a piece of us has gone missing. Like we aren’t complete and that if we don’t get home immediately, we might die or at least not be able to sleep or function in some other capacity. (In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m being sarcastic. I don’t think we are “supposed to” do any of that.)
During my stay, I never stopped loving my children. But that brings me to another point. I’ve heard many moms say before that when they first held their newborn babies, they were overcome with love. Maybe they wept or shook or felt like they couldn’t contain their happiness so they burst out in smiles and laughter, surprised when others around them did not.
When my first son was born, I was not immediately in love. I was shocked. I was frightened. I was surprised. Who is this little person? Where did he come from? As if my belly had been growing a hiccuping watermelon.
My husband and I have discussed our initial parenting reaction at length and we think it has something to do with the aloofness of newborns. They can’t smile. They can’t laugh. They can’t do anything really, so it took us a few weeks to feel that immense love that so many people talk about. My second and third babies brought out earlier love, but I think that was due to having seen how lovely babies can be. By then I knew that babies eventually laugh and hug their parents. I knew that babies eventually do silly things like try to grab at mirrors, drink from cup-less straws and look deeply into your eyes as they gurgle on about who knows what.
On my drive to West Virginia, I had a lot of time to think. About 5 hours, actually, which is more time than us mothers ever have alone. I wasn’t really sure what to do with it, especially since I had forgotten to bring my c.d.’s and my knock-off iPod, and it took me almost the entire drive to realize that I wasn’t scrolling through the radio stations, but the rental car’s presets. All I could hear from the speakers was fuzz and I thought that was just because I was in the middle of trees. Beautiful trees, though. The most beautiful trees and lands that I have ever seen. I wish I had photos to share, but because I was driving vertical and horizontal zigzags, I couldn’t manage to capture a single image.
Well, here is one image, but it’s not one that I took. It’s a free one from the internet. Pretty, isn’t it?
At one point, I turned off the radio and silence entered the air. Then, some actual thoughts.
I thought, What are you listening to?
Even in silence, I was listening to something. The noises of tires rotating on asphalt. The whooshing of wind. The occasional swish-swish of my cell phone notifications.
I thought about the sounds of my daily life.
When I drive around in my minivan, three children chatter on. They ask and they wonder out loud at me. They bring up philosophies of life. They tell me their failures and their successes. “Mom! Did you see that? I jumped so high!” “Mom! I hit that ball so hard!” or, “Mom, I wasn’t really good at that.” That last one comes from my 3-year old son who, today, told me over and over that he “wasn’t really good at” the spray ground, where he was continuously running to our towel to wipe his eyes of water drops. He was just playing in the water, like everyone else, but he apparently kept forgetting to close his eyes when he ran under the showers. “My eyes hurt!” He kept telling me.
What are you listening to?
I usually broadcast K-Love in my van, and it’s not because I like the music. In fact, though I love Jesus and I love worship music and I love hearing stories of God’s faithfulness, it is purely the positivity that I love in this station. There’s enough negativity out there already, and when I have the opportunity to control the words that are coming out of my speakers, I want them to be words of life.
I have started playing worship music in my house, all day every day, and I’ve realized that when I get angry, when I get frustrated, when I get worn out or overwhelmed at the demands of motherhood, the music keeps positivity from leaving. Even if my mind is reeling, I can bring myself back to calm because of the love that pours out through the music around me.
What are you listening to? Do you find that music helps keep you grounded at home, at work, or in your car?