Back up to the Waterline

The dock stands awkward like a kid in high school swim class, skinny legs and tan lines showing. Our little ones sprawl from the diving board into muddy water and go airborne off slides that jut out three feet above the surface. Even toward autumn, the lake feels the summer drought.

Sand and pebbles resist as I spiral a sun umbrella into the ground a few feet from the water. The umbrella leans, so I drag my foot over the surface to make a little mountain of support around the pole. A silvery feather peeks out from the pile. I keep on raking the grit and soon I see the feather in full.

I jump back fast, almost pull the umbrella out of the ground. The feather is a fin and at the other end of it there is a mouth sprung open in rigor mortis, eyes petrified shut, gills flaking in dry oxygen.

Familiar doubts floated up from the deep this week. Am I enough? Am I really equipped for this calling? Am I missing out on some secret that every other mother knows? Backtalk, boredom, bossiness– they drain me and then the doubts drain me some more. Water sinks low and ugly stuff shows.

A happy yell sounds out from the floating pier. My husband catches cannonball kids and zooms them about in the water like a speed boat. He’s a natural. I want to learn from him, scrounge some of his energy.

The dead fish frowns. I grab a sand shovel and slide it under the hollow creature, lift it, balance it, hold it as far out as my arm will reach. Please stay in one piece. Eek. I tiptoe to the rusty barrel and bury it with crushed cans, potato chip bags, and PB&J crusts. He’s at rest there, this bottom feeder.

On the beach blanket in the shade, I skim my magazine and bounce in and out of conversation with the girls. Soon, I feel a little nudge at my side. Sweet as can be, my friend’s little one curls up next to me with his eyes closed and makes a pillow of my hip. I pull him forward to lay his head on my leg. He sleeps a while, taking in gulps of air to the beat of lapping waves.

He doesn’t know it, but his little nap in my lap is rain to me, clouds breaking and filling me back up to the waterline, setting things right again, reminding me of the good I’m made to give.

8 thoughts on “Back up to the Waterline

    • The pairing of the dead fish in the sand and the living breathing person sleeping in my lap was more than the nudge I needed to get back to thinking on wholesome, lovely things instead of going stagnant in discouragement and negative self-talk. This week, I had the chance to give the ministry of hugs and encouragement to two sweet neighbor girls who were really missing their moms as we waited outside the school before the doors opened. Hard to explain, but I walked away feeling encouraged myself, like God was reminding me again of the part of nurture that comes natural to me…and that my particular type of nurture is indeed wanted and welcomed.

  1. Awwww, its so much better to read about it–and I was there! :) We all have the doubts in different areas, some hide them better then others. And some just go head first into things, messing them up and don’t think about the doubts, they just have regrets afterwards (that’s more me!) I was so glad you guys were able to come and we could chat.

    • I’m always encouraged talking to you and the other girls, sharing tips, celebrating happy moments and swapping stories of the hard days. You have made our transition to school soooo much easier this year with all of your practical advice for what you do with your boys.

  2. Pingback: Spotlights, Spider Silk and Self-Reflection {Preserve Your Story ~ Day 3} | Message in a Mason Jar

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