What do you remember about hard things you’ve had to go through?
We really don’t remember actual pain. Our brains protect us from that portion of experience. Thankfully!
We remember hard things differently. They are tiring. Or challenging. Or exhausting. Or wounding. Most of the time we don’t want to repeat them.
Some things we go through aren’t hard emotionally as much as physically tiring or demanding. Like parenting toddlers/preschoolers. You wonder if they will ever get out of diapers. Or sleep through the night. Or give up their pacifier. Or not be such a picky eater. Or. Or. Or.
I want to stop for a moment to encourage you: it is not going to stay that way.
Sometimes our memories allow us to look back at hard things with a softened view; a redeemed perspective perhaps.
What seems slow and never ending actually was going by at a regular pace but for some reason we perceived it as long and slow.
Why Grandfather? As a former elementary teacher, I had (still have, ahem) a lot of children’s books. We had read a book called the Grandpa Tree. It’s an actual phenomenon: as a tree grows, young trees sprout up around it from the cones or seed pods it drops. A few withstand the harshness of winters and winds sheltered by the older tree. Those few grow in a circle around the tree. You can find these in many forests.
This is the circle of redwoods surrounding the Grandfather Tree. I stood within this circle many mornings (and afternoons and evenings) while our youngest enjoyed climbing up and then down into the stump of the Grandfather Tree. And up and around and jumping off of and climbing up again. I’d like to remember all those moments as precious but I know reality. I wasn’t always playful and patient. I wanted to connect with my friends. Or get a coffee. Or just be by myself. Sometimes the slow repeated ritual was lost on me. But not on our son. He was an active guy. Both in physical as well as imaginative ways. He wanted me to climb up and get into the trunk too. To listen and hide. To imagine we were being chased. To play hide and seek from his brother. Lots of action around this Grandfather Tree.
Those days seemed so long and slow and hard as I did toddler/preschooler duty. What was I in such a rush about anyway?
Those redwood trees didn’t hurry up and grow tall. They took the right amount of time. God’s time. It may seem long and slow in the moment but that’s just one perspective.
From where I stood this last weekend, back under the circle of redwoods surrounding the Grandfather Tree, that childhood flew by.
I looked closely at the Grandfather Tree this past weekend. I noticed some details I didn’t remember. It had offered a way into enjoying time there:
A natural place to step on up to enjoy a seat. It’s as if many feet had made a way to share the space over many years. I wondered: How am I inviting others into my life? Do I make myself available to spend time together? Am I welcoming? Comfortable?
Something else I noticed as I studied the Grandfather Tree
Of course it made me wonder: How am I evidencing new life and growth? Am I seeking to deepen my roots, to reach the necessary source of Life?
If you’re in the season with Littles still underfoot, this may seem whimsical and ridiculous because you are stretched thin from the very real demands of your 24/7 job of Mom. There is an end to all this. And trust me, when it comes you won’t be ready for it. Learn to take littles breaks within your day so that you can develop the habit of being present to them in the moments you’re on duty. Rest. Breathe. Refresh.
If you’re not yet a mom, use this season to grow deep roots so you’re ready for the demanding times ahead. Whether or not you are ever called upon to be a Mom, we need deep roots to withstand the storms of life.
And, if you’re in the season of looking back, what are you doing to continue to deepen your roots? To be inviting and sheltering to the youngers around you?
Please share your ideas; we all need encouragement!
Oh and if you’re so inclined, this is the lovely children’s book that we used to read that helped give The Grandfather Tree it’s name!