Our elementary school is very proud of their student drop off program, “Stop, Drop, and Go”. Last year I didn’t participate at all. This year I decided to sign up for a shift. The shifts go from 7:30 to 7:55 and you stand in a line wearing an orange vest and open car doors for students.
In those 25 minutes of my shift these things happened:
• I was ten minutes late and had to wear the bum vest that wouldn’t velcro.
• I discovered it was National Walk-to-School Day and opened only five doors as most everyone walked or biked past me.
• I mortally offended a middle schooler by opening the door for her. I attempted to provide a balm by saying, “Oh, no, of course you’re much too old to go here.” It didn’t help.
• I couldn’t close a minivan door, the woman repeatedly yelling at me, “Lift it up! Lift it up!”
• A boy and a girl hopped out. The mom yelled, “I love you!” I told the girl to tell her mother she loves her. The girl said, “She’s not my mother! She’s a carpool!”
[Barbara bows. Mic drop.]
I have a collection of wooden pebbles, bits of driftwood worn down until they’re round and smooth like stones. Due to some mystery of ebb and tide China Beach is where I find most of them.
I was searching them out the other day and began thinking about the mystery of being worn smooth, how more and more my edges become softer. I judge less, know less surely. More and more I shrug and empathize, yet have no counsel. More and more I cling to the person of God as judge because that means I don’t have to. Because I don’t know and I’m glad I don’t have to know. With all its exceptions and experiences, life has made me softer.
Mommyhood has made me softer, too. I have a soft Mommy belly where three kids’ growing bodies have stretched and pulled, kneading it soft, perhaps past redemption. I don’t know; I haven’t tried. I like being soft right now. I like when the baby lifts my shirt and lays his ear on my belly button as if he remembers, as if you can feel nostalgic at fourteen months.
Stretched and pulled like the sand between my toes, rocks kneaded soft by the waves. And then I saw the particles for what they were, bits and pointy edges worn off so many younger, surer stones. A beautiful long beach of opinions and viewpoints once held so firmly and discovered to be not quite as central as we thought. Not as central to what we believe, not as central to who we are, every one of them a moment of surprise when we discover it no longer attached and us still standing.
I’m enjoying being soft. I’m more comfortable and people are more comfortable with me.
In testimony I rub my fingers over my wooden pebbles without fear of splinters.