I’m always baffled by the fact that summer doesn’t technically begin until late June, when the summer solstice occurs.
I mean, 1) School is out, and also 2) it hit the upper 90’s (F) here this week.
So, even though I am aware the calendar doesn’t doesn’t support my conclusion, spring has come and gone in my book.
Emily P. Freeman agrees with me. This week I’m joining her seasonal practice of looking back on what I’ve learned this spring (ie. March – May.)
(Side note: If you aren’t listening to Emily’s podcast, The Next Right Thing, I’m not sure what you’re doing with your life. It’s a weekly moment of calm and centering which I absolutely adore. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen. No, I don’t actually know her in real life but I feel like we’d be friends…she’s an interpreter too and she lives only a few hours from me…also, she’s smart and funny, two of my favorite qualities in a friend…so, I mean….whadaya say Emily, can we be pals??)
What I Learned This Spring
I’ve always favored fall for all the blazing red, brilliant orange, and vibrant yellow of autumn leaves. But this year I realized I enjoy the bright white, soft pink, and playful purple of spring flowers almost (though still not quite) as much. And in both seasons, I love how the colors often seem to change overnight, while at the same time, the overall exposing or filling in of branches happens so gradually, I don’t notice until it’s over. (There’s a metaphor in there for motherhood, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.)
Speaking of motherhood, I also learned this spring that I’ve been blessed with the chance to do it all again a second time. Baby #2 is headed our way this winter. I’ve spent most of my four years as a mom wondering if I was cut out to do this more than once, but God must know I am, since He’s sent this unexpected gift. This spring has also been a time of realizing and embracing my own physical limitations, letting go of unrealistic expectations, accepting help, and learning to trust God in new ways. As Ruth Chou Simons likes to say, “motherhood is sanctifying,” even right from the beginning.
In addition to my regular podcasts, which tend toward news/politics, Christian living, and motherhood, I binged a few true crime shows this spring. Dr. Death is the story of a surgeon in Texas who maimed or killed almost every patient on which he operated. It explores whether he was simply incompetent, or if he truly harbored ill-intent. It was both fascinating and terrifying, and it underscored what I already knew from working in a hospital: you are your own best (and sometimes only) advocate in the medical arena.
Believed is the story of how Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused female athletes and other patients for years, some of them while their parents were in the room. My take away from these two shows: it’s foolish to blindly trust medical professionals, no matter how personable, charming, or highly regarded they are. Also, if my daughter ever tells me she’s uncomfortable with a doctor (or anyone else for that matter) I will listen and believe her. (If you, like me, had been baffled by the Nassar case, and how it could have gone on for so long, take a listen. It’s upsetting, but I think it’s important, for parents especially, to understand how our attitudes and actions effect our kids’ perception of the world.)
On the practical side, I discovered how truly amazing these suitcases from Amazon can be. I had a slight inkling when I used only this 20-inch carry-on size for our entire 9-day trip to Denmark last summer. But this April it was really put to the test: it held all of mine and Abby’s clothes for a trip to Oklahoma to see my family, and even more than that, still fit all the extra stuff she brought back from Mimi’s and Auntie’s shopping sprees! It was stretched to the max, but it zipped and nothing busted. Can’t expect any better than that!
Abby turned four this past week, and I was reminded that she hasn’t yet developed the high expectations of birthday festivities that I might project onto her. I was feeling very down on myself for not planning better in advance, but she was perfectly content with a small playdate at the park and Wal-Mart cupcakes she picked out from the bakery. To paraphrase someone older and wiser I know, “Most of my stress is self-inflicted.”
I learned a few things about myself over the course of the past 3 months as well.
First, I might not be into hiking, camping, gardening, or sports, but that doesn’t mean I don’t or can’t take pleasure in being outside. A sidewalk cafe or a park bench in the sunshine offer me a respite of peace I can’t find indoors. It’s okay to give myself permission to take advantage of it, even if I don’t consider myself outdoorsy.
Second, as much as solitude and quiet recharge my introverted energy tank, time with friends in deep conversation is also life giving. A few weeks ago Dave took Abby for a daddy-daughter outing with another friend and her dad, giving me several free hours on a Saturday. While it was tempting to hunker down on the couch with a book, I reached out to a friend and made plans for lunch. Those two hours chatting gave me a much needed boost. Similarly, a weekend getaway with my best friend and former roommate felt daunting in the throes of first-trimester sickness. But it was worth every minute to have extended time in which to catch up on a couple years’ worth of life happenings and deep thoughts.
And third, there are many “hot-button” topics on which I have strong opinions, and they don’t always fit the mold people might expect of me. Talking these things through with someone I trust helps me solidify why I hold certain positions. It also reminds me that my perspective on these topics is unique, and therefore my voice matters in the conversation (even when I’m afraid of the conflict speaking up with cause.)
It’s hard to know where you’re going if you never look back at where you’ve been. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d have much to write about for this topic, but it seems I am learning things after all.
Just like those spring flowers I mentioned, a lot happens in the dark, under the ground, before it bursts into bloom for all the world to see.
Here’s to continuing to grow good things this summer!