I know my life will ultimately read as a line: beginning, middle, end. From that first spark of life given in the womb, to the march of divinely ordered chapters where I find myself now, to the last page when God finally carries his good work to completion, things are proceeding in one definite direction (and hallelujah for that). But linear as life looks from heaven’s viewpoint, I experience it in circles.
The circle of daily repetition. The circle of weekly repetition. The comforting yet sometimes heartbreaking circle of seasons, with each new spring or autumn bringing rich memories, but also a sharp realization that last year will never come again, we’ve moved on. And the constantly expanding or contracting circles of my capacity, which– for now– expand or contract according to the age of our youngest child.
Once past my first trimester, I can maintain a respectable level of energy and ambition right up until birth. But right afterwards: goodbye energy! Goodbye ambition! And I don’t mourn them much at first. I’m too busy kissing pink baby toes. Then once my body has healed and I’ve had my fill of cozy mornings in bed with a newborn, I get a smidgen stir-crazy. I remember all the things I’ve missed, again crave the physical and mental space that I need in order to do more than survive. Life has flattened. My brain has atrophied. Help! Do I ever get the deeper parts of me back? Do I ever get to stretch my wings outside of this nest of bare necessity?
Since adding tiny people to our home, I have treasured these lines from Psalm 16: “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Yes, my brain resurrects from its postpartum daze. My wings find more room to flutter as the lines of my inheritance, so to speak, start to creep outward. But even before that, the portion was beautiful.
Twice now I’ve tasted a good season of fullness, able to breathe and imagine again, only to have my boundaries retract for another baby. I’m on the way outwards with John, I think. He sleeps, he plays, he squawks like a baby seagull when he’s happy . . . in the margins, I get to read giant novels and sketch out my summer garden. He still requires more attention than my first two but I’m feeling that returning freedom, that sense of being “me” again. I don’t have any plans to repeat the cycle. Not soon.
But with apologies to Winnie-the-Pooh, you never can tell with babies: if I had a dollar for every “unintended” child I know, I’d be able to take a pretty sweet vacation. It freaks me out sometimes. To lose my newly-staked space and retreat to a basic skeleton of life? Oh no. Yet the small portion is worthy. God would be there. (And a pregnancy isn’t the only thing that could suddenly change the lines. Who’s to say what other unexpected change might hem me in, perhaps even more long-term than a baby?)
For now, I enjoy my larger circle.
Without wringing my hands over when it will shrink again, and without depending too much on it staying as it is.