Thanks to daylight savings time and an earlier waking child, mornings spent in quiet by candlelight are becoming a rarer and rarer occurrence around here. Today happens to be an exception as I’m currently enjoying a cup of the darkest coffee I could find on sale at Safeway and listening to nothing but the sound of my curious stomach as it wonders why we have yet to eat a giant plate of pastries or pancakes. Really. First thought in my mind every morning since I was seven is, “Pancakes today?” I know I should have big grown up thoughts like Jesus or world peace or gratitude, but pancakes always cut in line. Sometimes, when I forget that I don’t have the proper equipment, it’s waffles.
So all of that is to say that I’m sitting here, kind of hungry, trying to enjoy the stillness of the world but waiting for that inevitable first babble or cry. I’m counting the minutes until Z starts her day. When she does her watch dog will leave her post outside the nursery and give me notice that the baby has woken up and is on the move. Until then, Rumer will keep watch.
Yesterday I took Z to the library because it’s my favorite place in the world and until she has her own list of favorite places we’re going to go with mine. I like books but I love libraries. While I wish we could roam the aisles of books together this effort always seems to end with Z pulling the thickest books from their happy little lineup to the floor. If she’s really into it, she’ll then walk all over the pages. This is why the children’s area of the library is my second favorite place in the world. Here children can have an appropriate amount of fun while knowing that if they get too rambunctious the less child-friendly librarians will be sent in to escort them out. “You want to climb the walls? Scale the shelves? I think the playground is more your speed.” These are my people.
And it’s here that I can take about twenty steps back from my child and let her roam, always keeping watch but rarely interfering. This isn’t to say I’m some amazingly transcendent zen mother. This is to say I’m amazingly lazy, which I think has served me well and kept my blood pressure down as I’ve watched Z learn to interact with other children, parents, and snarky librarians (Oh, how I love them!)
It’s a protective yet trusting posture that I think many of my relationships could benefit from. It’s a stance the healthiest of partnerships are born of, one that translates to compassion, understanding, and the respect of another’s personhood. Of course, it also seems to be one of the hardest kind of relationships to foster, what with our perfect-looking FaceBook families and matching Christmas card ensembles and all the other ways we look at the world and internalize that we, ourselves and our families are not good enough. And now, I’ve singlehandedly started a war against Christmas cards, which wasn’t my point but might not be the wrong battle to pick…
No, if I even have a point here it’s that this is the kind of relationship I believe we are held in with God and it’s what helps me to decipher between fear and love when others tell me about their relationship (or lack thereof) with God. Because I can’t connect with anything that would call me into a punishing or shaming relationship and would ask me to do the same of others, especially if it’s in the name of some kind of “salvation.” That kind of God seems to have a choke hold on Her people. And I can’t make sense of how life is born and nurtured out of that kind of relationship. That answer never appears. As friends and lovers, we are asked to be trusting and watchful.
I also can’t get on board with a God that is so distanced from acting when there is stoppable suffering occurring. A God who says “they must have deserved it” or “just pray and light your candles for them as they look around at the devastation that surrounds them.” Just as I wouldn’t say “let’s just see what happens if Z puts the paperclip in the outlet. It’ll be a learning experience…” As parents and people and children, we are more than asked, we are created to be protective and watchful.
And with that, Z has heard me open the refrigerator door and is wondering aloud if it’s a pancake day.
Be well, be kind, and do good.