Surprised by Joy
I remember that walk like it was yesterday (and in some ways, it was). I had just turned 40 and Linda and I were walking the streets of our neighborhood around Derrydown. Turning 40 felt like a significant time ~ one of those “get on with what is most important” times. I don’t remember if I went first of if Linda did but/and, it went something like this... One walker:“I want to get ordained.” The other walker: “I want to have children.” And almost in unison one responded to the other: “How hard can that be?”
And who would have thought that less than 5 years later I would be serving a local congregation and we would have two healthy sons, John Brogan and Samuel Clark? And with that, we would be co-parenting with 2 dads, John and Rande? Wow. Life.
Everyone who knows me even a little bit, knows that I am not wired for mothering. It’s not in my DNA. From Linda’s laboring through the diapers, the walking the floor in the wee hours, the bringing them to Miss Anita (thank you, God for Miss Anita J), having them both with Miss Wanda and Miss Parker in kindergarten (thank you, God for Miss Wanda and Miss parker J), through the illnesses and the homework assignments, and now into adolescence ~ mothering is a trip.
These two boys are changing before our eyes. This past week was a perfect example. Having a heart-to-heart with Sam and listening as he went from crying about something (which to my mothering ears sounded so insignificant) to explaining to me how our puppy digests her food (which to my human ears just sounded down-right gross…). And then while folding laundry and talking to Brogan, he nonchalantly changed his shirt and there was all this armpit hair ~ and it wasn’t that long ago (was it?) that he only had three hairs (and he had named them J).
But what is the gift, the true gift of mothering for me these days is the laughter. Our trip just a month ago to Kenya was filled with laughter. From everybody. And at all the best times. Gamma was funny. And Linda was funny. The Dads were funny. And the boys were so, so funny. It’s not the “telling jokes kind of funny” (although they are known to do that), it’s the “looking at the world through their lenses” kind of funny. And this kind of funny just makes my heart fill up to the brim.
How hard can it be? Turned out to be a stupid question. It’s hard. Parenting is a roller coaster ride that no one in their right mind would pay money for. And parenting is also a precious, invaluable gift from God.
But/and I’m telling you that being surprised by joy is more than enough for me.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.