Today, I am joining up with Sarah Bessey’s synchroblog: What is saving your life right now. It just seemed like the right question.
He mows both of our lawns with his John Deere lawn tractor. Some days, he picks up our kids to ride along with him, one on each knee, as he rides slow, straight lines across the overgrown grass.
And sometimes, he raises ducks.
He found the most recent crop a month or two ago – just little balls of feather huddled behind some car tire in some parking lot. Their mother, gone.
He built a wooden pen in the back of his garage. When we saw them for the first time, they huddled together at the back of the pen around the heat lamp. Safe and warm and waiting.
Since Dane was a baby, we’ve gone to these parent-child classes through the school district. The kids play, and the moms sit in an adjoining room with cold cups of coffee and learn words like equilibrium and disequilibrium – the pendulum-swing of a child’s disposition.
It has to do with their growth cycles and their changing, and for months they can be precious and sweet and eager to obey, and then ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE and we are in disequilibrium.
Dane has been like a train, flying towards it for months, and now we are there. These last few weeks, he has been fearsome in his independence, pushing hard against every boundary, crumbling at every no. We are fighting about nap and potty training and food choices and sharing. He gets frustrated and smacks me in the face; he melts into tantrum – a noodle on the floor, debilitated by his rage.
I love him fiercely, and I am fiercely angry, tired to the bone. Another blogger posts a list of her favorite parenting books, and I spend the day wracked with guilt because I have not read any parenting books, and maybe if I had, there would be less shouting and screaming and exhaustion. Maybe I’d be able to navigate disequilibrium better. Maybe I could lead him through it.
But it feels like we are both there, drowning in uncharted waters. It feels like disequilibrium is happening to me too. These days, I struggle to pull myself out of bed at five in the morning to write. I feel swallowed by all this exhaustion.
When I do manage to get up, I sit for a long time in front of a blank page, and the words don’t come. I feel wholly inadequate. There’s so much tired built up in these bones that even the coffee doesn’t help much.
Last week, Andrew was gone on business, and I stopped writing altogether. I let my RSS Reader pile up with unread posts. I took a day off from this blog spent the week madly cleaning and decluttering, as if by restoring order to my kitchen, I could restore it to my soul.
I threw away old spices and expired Jell-O and filed all my varied ingredients into pretty containers from IKEA. I cleaned out the freezer and the deep freeze and made Pinterest-worthy inventories that I affixed to the side of the fridge with sticky tack. I stayed up too late; I woke up too early.
There was a whole jarful of expired mustard seed. Jesus once said that faith as small as a mustard seed could move mountains, but mine was expired and dusty, stuffed at the back of my cabinet. Unused.
I tried to dump out a few of the seeds for a photo, in case I ever decide to blog about it, and they skittered madly around the kitchen, disappearing under the oven and the fridge. Renegade mustard seed that I will be finding for years.
I can’t believe how fast they grew, the little ducks. One day, barely as big as your hand. A few days later, little wiry pre-adolescents, pecking around their pen.
Then one day, I stood on the deck in the morning and watched as the six of them waddled in a little pack across our backyard and into the pond to navigate the waters together.
Every morning for a week, a few more ducks flew in, until suddenly the pond is teeming with them. It’s like they sensed, somehow, that this is a safe place to grow and play and live and splash. Our neighbor throws feed into his yard and they come, eat, swim, fly.
And this is what is saving me: in the early morning when I am too tired to do this again, when I’m in the middle of the first cup of coffee and the cursor is still blinking over the blank page and the kids are stirring—much too early—in the monitor…this is when the ducks come in.
They fly fast and low over our deck and down into the pond. There is something powerful to me about this soundless arc of feathers and flight, and I catch my breath when I see it.
I am saved by this daily reminder of the simplicity of rescue. Of redemption. One day, six ducklings were scooped off of the hot, unyielding concrete. All it took was a little warmth, a little food and light and water.
Just look at them now. They are sleek and strong and beautiful. They are floating under the bright orange sky. It is another beautiful day.