My legs don’t walk anymore,
I say, breathing in the first sip of my eight o’clock blend.
& you are here, all preceding eye contact your latest regret, as you try to cover the nervous look in your eyes. Because when you rumped your fist against my door, I was the one who stood on the other side, welcoming you into my home with the most desperate hug, walking you into the sun room as I took your drink order.
& you manage to cover up all angst, casually slipping a,
Sweet pea, is everything alright?
No, because the thing is, walking isn’t all it used to be. I feel like I’m in therapy, stumbling down the hall, dragging an annoying I-V cart behind me. All motion is much stickier, like having gum under my shoe or a bad case of shuffle foot. Sometimes, they even get cramped, leaving me wanting to roll into fetal position, & do anything- a n y t h i n g- but keep walking forward. Here I am, asking the Lord to pick up my feet, & here I am tripping through my roles as a human being.
Gaining roles is a mindless game, slipping into new positions as life impregnates us with its changes, transitioning as smooth as the seasons, one leaf at a time. We get a new job, & there is the news break before the first day. The ‘hey you are hired’ preceding the ‘you’ll be shadowing Lucy today’. One, before another, welcoming the new role, sliding into it with main idea of what exactly the role will consist of before you wear it.
My sister is pregnant. & every month, her body symbolizes the shifting that’s taking place within her soul, the shuffling that is silently whispering guidance, what to go where, all in the name of creating room to welcome this bundle.
Such ease. Just hop your butt on that plastic seat & let the slide slip you down.
But my legs gave out on me, & all they want to do is tucker out under the pressure of my latest role. They want to slam on the breaks at every tick of discomfort & frustration.
I’d never imagined stepmom.
I’d never envisioned myself taking on the role, walking into a four-year-old’s life. I never imagined never knowing what the weather was like as this sweet love was labored, not having a memory of her first cry nor the way the sunlight was pouring through the window. It never occurred to me that someday I would spend days at war with a child whose sharing issues included her father.
I’ve never been with a child in the confinement of their home as the authority figure, as the one responsible for saying no, changing Barbie clothes, & filling up milk cups. I don’t have the stretch marks on my stomach that tell stories of my body stretching to make this little miracle & I don’t have the nine months experience of cravings, ultrasounds, & baby kicks.
I have nothing to rest my transition on. There was no stick I urinated on, blinking two lines of expectancy. There was no introduction.
The introduction came the day I pulled in the drive to him cleaning out his car for our trip to the park. I opened my car door & walked over to him as little arms wrapped around his knee caps, one eye peaking between his flesh & her blonde, tangled locks.
This little tiny thing, containing a mother, a father, a grandma.
A birthday, a favorite color (varying on the day), & a sweet obsession with the movie Frozen.
The most heavenly joy beheld in her Taylor Swift jam sessions & the most frustrating scream beginning every breaking cry.
Because just like every role, we have our ups & downs.
This is no perfect house, love.
This is the bittersweet.
Pretty & ugly, all clinging to each other like glue.
This is my life. Kicking legs at the thought of bedtime & upstretched arms for tired feet. The most questions crammed into the smallest amount of time & the best hugs ever when the mood is right. Chicken tenders for every meal & Bikini Bottoms as the most faithful background noise.
This little girl can be the light, filling my worst days with the most precious moments. & she can be the root of my deepest frustrations. But there’s this love that penetrates all circumstances. & there is this grace the Father uncovers as my face is nose deep in mud.
I am the worst at my role, oftentimes wanting to cover it. Dress it up. Slip it off.
& any parent will tell you it is full of some of the toughest, most frustrating days
& I will tell you my life is no different.
But this is where God has led me, & this is the land where he has provided over & over again & even on the worst days this is where the fields are most plentiful. This is where he has given me some of the most life defining moments & some days with a bitterness I’m not sure morning has the power to overcome until the sun rises & I realize it’s my hands balled in fists over yesterday. It’s my death grip that refuses to believe in forgiveness & new mercies.
& it’s so funny, because on my hardest days, in those bad day hangover kind of mornings,
he takes her heart & makes it most gentle,
wrapping her arms around me & bringing the sweetest love to surface.
He coos me with her hugs & I love yous & I’m going to miss yous.
He shows his grace in her reaching for my hand.
There is this story in the Bible, where the Lord hid Elijah in the crevice of the rock as he passed by. & in crashed thunder & in crashed this & in crashed that & God was in none of the thunderous, loud elements you would expect from him. He was in the gentleness of the winds whisper.
& this is his introduction as God the whisper. God the gentleness. Because here I stand, ready to stomp my feet, cross my arms, & plead for my Father to pick me up & give me the easy way out, carrying my tired legs the rest of the way. & he sings over me every night & squeezes me in excitement every morning. He pleads with me to begin anew, to take this gift of the present he’s holding out to me, to take hold of his hand he’s slipping into mine & walk the road he paved of forgiveness.
I get frustrated & I want to yell
& he whispers you’re beautiful. You’re strong. & I love you.
He’s placed me under the shelter of his wings, hidden me in the crevices of Christ’s love & grace.
& though this is far from perfect, far from the ease I would love to float me through this new role,
This is where I want to be.