I love seeing new things – things I’ve never seen before.
A few years back, I saw my first fox. She was making her way across the neighborhood green space under cover of darkness, but the streetlights revealed her unmistakable fiery fur and trotting stride. She was beautiful.
I was in awe.
And then yesterday, I saw my first great-nephew. He was lying sweetly in a nest of swaddling blankets, tiny paper finger and toenails topping long, fragile fingers and long, slender feet. He is beautiful.
And I am in awe.
He came early. Seven weeks early. And his mama suffered. She was put on hospital bed rest and then filled with the fumes of a hazy, magnesium hell to battle the preeclampsia ravaging her body.
It was not fun. Nor was it effective. He “broke” her belly (as my sons say) via C-section the very next day. At 33 weeks.
But he is 33 weeks of pure perfection. Surprisingly alert, his eyes dance inside a noggin tiny enough to fit in a teacup, his elfin features glow beneath a widow’s peak of dark, twiggy hair.
This newborn child is beautiful. And so is his newborn mother.
She is pure perfection. Her eyes smile through the pain of incision, through the fog of postpartum, her freckled features deceptively serene beneath her halo of glossy, dark hair.
Because she is the perfect newborn mother — full of self-doubt, full of concern, full of fear.
She worries about milk supply and let down. She worries about milestones to be met and schedules to be set. She worries about bonding time and spending time with her twiggy little nestling when she’s discharged and he’s left behind in the NICU.
She worries about nurturing him and guiding him and loving him well enough to one day set him loose in this big, scary world with all the tools and confidence he needs to flourish.
She has so many worries. But those worries make her the perfect mother. Because that’s what good mothers do. They worry. And I would worry if she weren’t.
Really good mothers strive to always do the right things — the best things — for their little ones, no matter how big they get. No matter how old.
But good mothers never do ALL the right things; they never do ALL the best things. Because mothers – even the really good ones like my niece – they’re only human. So they struggle.
But just because you are struggling doesn’t mean you are failing.
I saw that on a meme just yesterday and it spoke volumes to me as a mother, as a wife, as a writer, as a teacher.
Because just like my niece, I am struggling.
Because another new thing I saw this week was a brand new classroom — in a brand new school system. And it has left me full of self-doubt and fear and concern. I am full of worries.
I worry about school supplies and letting people down. I worry about the schedule to be set and the milestones to be met. I worry about bonding time with my students and spending time with my twins.
I worry about nurturing them and guiding them and loving them all well enough to one day let them loose in this big, scary world with all the tools and confidence they need to flourish.
I want to do all the right things, all the best things. And I know I won’t do all the right things all the time. I won’t always do the best things. I have so many worries. But hopefully those worries make me a good teacher.
I struggled a lot last week. My niece struggled a lot last week. But we both have to remember that struggling doesn’t mean we are failing. Humans struggle — we’ve been doing it since the Garden of Eden. We trip. We fall. We get back up again. We persevere. We triumph. We excel.
It’s all about the perseverance. And Grace.
Because thanks to the grace of God, if our intentions are pure, and our efforts are hard, and our passions are strong, we will not fail. Struggle, yes. Fail, no. We can do this hard thing.
So Lauren, you and me — and all the mothers and teachers and humans out there — we can all do this hard thing. By the grace of God.
I am in awe.