Welcoming what is to come

Recently, Whit, Grace and I spent the afternoon at a water park.  Whit doesn’t do water slides (note: this may change soon, as he didn’t do rollercoasters until last week, when he suddenly tried one and is now a Huge Ride Guy) so we spent a lot of time in the wave pool.  We headed into the waves, Grace and Whit erupting into giggles as the water splashed up our legs.  When got to the deeper water, where the waves were big, both kids started thrashing around.  I grabbed them both, holding one against each hip, marveling at how enormous, lean, and knobby their bodies are now.  Because we were in water I held them easily, feeling slippery skin against skin, looking back and forth at their smiling faces.

“So the thing, guys,” they leaned their heads towards mine, listening above the roar of the waves, “Is to just float in the waves.  Let them bob you around.  Don’t fight them.”  I saw Whit’s eyebrows raise skeptically.  “No, really, Whit.  I know it sounds crazy.  But try to just drift in the waves.  You’ll see.”

I let go of them and Grace immediately flipped onto her back, trying to float in the undulating water.  Whit plummeted again below the surface and came splashing up, panic and delight mixing in his eyes.  He grasped for me, water splashing everywhere.  I took his arm.  I put my arm around his waist and held him against my side, watching Grace in the waves.  It was not lost on me that this is how I held him, all the time, when he was a baby and toddler.

A few moments later I noticed that Whit was pushing away from me, trying to pry my fingers off of him.  “Mummy!”  I looked at him, surprised.  “I’m trying to drift!  Let me go so I can try to bob!”  Laughing, I let go of him and smiled as I watched him, trying to relax his body, trying to trust the rising and falling water.

After a minute or two both kids came back to me, tired, tethering themselves to my body.  Whit said, “Let’s hold hands! Let’s make a family circle!”  And so we did, my feet firmly planted on the floor, both kids bobbing up and down in the water as it moved around them.  Johnny Cash’s voice, singing “…will the circle be unbroken, by and by Lord, by and by..” sprang into my head my head and stayed there for the rest of the evening.

Grace and I took another few trips down the water slides and I wrapped up in some towels and gave them the five minute warning.  They wanted to go back into the wave pool so I sat on one of the faded yellow plastic chairs, watching, as they stepped tentatively into the splashing water.  When they got deep enough that Whit couldn’t touch anymore, I watched them both trying to float.  And then I noticed that Grace held Whit in her arms, helping support him in the roiling waves.  Tears sprang to my eyes as I noticed how her arms reached instinctively for him, how he clasped her with complete trust, their dark heads next to each other as they looked away from me towards the source of the waves.

Whit started to wade out of the water.  Close to shore, he grinned at me and then suddenly turned back again towards the pool.  He held his arms up above his head, open, walking back into the waves.  Startlingly, I thought of the minister at his christening, a tall, imposing man who had held his arms up like that while I cradled Whit above the font.  His arms open in benediction, he’d boomed, “Welcome, Samuel Whitman Russell.  Welcome, all of us.”

Arms spread, Whit walked back into the waves.  Welcoming what is to come.  Without fear.  May I do the same.

16 thoughts on “Welcoming what is to come”

  1. This post is breathtaking Lindsey. Absolutely breathtaking. And you are an incredible mother to your children. Their lives are so rich with you in it.

  2. This is such a beautiful post. Don’t you love those moments when you’re able to stop flailing through life long enough to witness magic happen?

    Powerful imagery and lessons here – about trust, family and letting go.


  3. Gorgeous, my friend. Something struck me while reading this. Life is a continuing education and our children are our wonderfully wise professors. A day doesn’t go by where my girls don’t teach me something, something tiny or grand, about life and love and happiness. We do what we can to teach them but really aren’t they teaching us more than we can fathom? Thanks for this Monday morning gem.


  4. Beautiful. We do learn so much from our children, don’t we? I often I hear myself doling out the very same advice I should be taking, such as don’t struggle with the current, it’s so much easier if you learn to flow with it. Something to ponder this cloudy Monday.

  5. Water is wonderful, because it allows us to hold our children as we did when they were lighter and more compact. Until they pry our hands away and want to bob, as Whit did. Which is beautiful, brave and sad all at once. Lovely post!

  6. I love the metaphor of the waves – and letting yourself drift. I always think of the sound advice given to people who get caught in dangerous and powerful rip tides: Don’t fight it. Let it take you out as far as it can and then you can gradually swim sideways and come back to shore in another spot. By doing so, you will save your energy and yourself. So true. Sounds like a lovely day for you and the kiddos. Nothing beats watching your children delight in the wave pool.

  7. I love the moment of Grace guiding Whit in the water. And you absorbing it, noticing its poignancy.

    Because siblings (at least the siblings in this house) sometimes (ok, always) bicker, these tranquil, beautiful moments fill me up so, so fully.


  8. “I’m trying to drift! Let me go so I can try to bob!”

    If that isn’t a portent of what’s to come…and what good work you’re doing, welcoming the unknown, the independence, the closeness.

    Thank you for sharing, I’m smiling here in the Southwest.

    – Rachel

  9. Oh, how this resonates. I love Johnny Cash. I love that song. I know all too well that feeling of holding too-big kids in water and remembering and recognizing the then thems and the now thems. I know the sensation of watching your older hold or mother or teach or comfort your younger … just like you would. Like you do. Beautiful images, Lindsey!

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