Finding the Calm



Lovely rainbow, isn't it?

We had a rough patch of almost-spring weather a couple of weeks ago (during the Flu That Humbled Me); one afternoon, a thunderstorm rumbled through in a short fifteen minutes.

I happened to climb the stairs at just the right time to catch a view of this rainbow; I hollered to the kids to come see it while I grabbed the camera.

It.Was.Beautiful.

It was one of those rarest of rainbows, one that stretches from horizon to horizon. I've cropped this shop above, taken from my front step, to protect the privacy of the houses across the street.

The kids were entranced; little Tom stood with his mouth wide and Becky and Huck hopped outside for a second in their jammies (our standard sick-day uniform at our house) before I nagged them inside.

I stepped away to put the camera back (oh, how I live in fear of what could happen to an unattended and expensive electronic device in my home); when I stepped back up the stairs, the rainbow was gone.

Moments of peace and beauty are sometimes literally given to us just like that rainbow above.

Sometimes.

These moments are true gifts: a friend calls just when you needed to talk most; an appointment or a meeting gets cancelled and frees up an hour or two in an over-packed day; the power goes out and in the darkness lit only by candles and flashlights, quiet reigns.

But never for long; chaos always stands waiting, ready to swoop in.

I fight it - chaos, that is. I pick up the messes and organize the days and keep the whole works here a-humming, all with the thought that if I could just get this done a day ahead of time or if I could just get that finished and finally organized and put away, I'd find myself with a chunk of unscheduled free time just.for.me.

But what happens instead is life.

Sickness and homework and ER trips and snow days and business trips and everlasting mud from the backyard and pent-up insane canines and volunteering and dentist appointments and laundry and broken appliances and bills to pay and prayers to say.

Life slams into my well-kept plans and happens; I simply have no choice but to surf the wave and try to keep my head above water until I reach firm land.

I used to think that I'd have my feet underneath me on that firm land once we reached certain milestones - the youngest one potty-trained or finally being settled in a town for good - but now I suspect that I was naive. The waves are constant; the milestones only trail further into the future.

And that patch of firm ground, that beach where, "I've got it all under control," is just an ever-shifting and mirage-like borderland that bears no footprints.

None of us have it all under control.

Lent starts in two days; I've eaten cookies and chocolate and ice cream as the hours count down. My little binge has been fun but I'll be glad to wake up on Wednesday and know that it's time to step back a bit, to pare down, to reduce.

Motherhood is like a crucible; you are tested by every experience as Mommy and forced to choose again and again what is important (life; love) and what matters little (daily showers; makeup; what others think of you). Motherhood reduces you, but in the best way possible.

All that is left after each soul-wrenching trial is what matters.

Them.

Us.

Love.

And in that utter simplicity, there is much calm to be found.

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