PARENTHOOD is definitively a liminal space. One often entered into either flat-out knowing we have no idea what we are doing or far too confident that we do. Neither are true.
There’s definitely a moment of initiation, but it doesn’t come with any certainty of what we are now doing or who we now are. At first the not knowing can be compensated for with the excitement of it all. Before long, however, there we are, swimming in the sea of un-knowing.
Some of us compensate for this with books, lots and lots of books. Ah yes, a sense of control. Some of us compensate with opting out of the cloudy landscape parenting is and choose to focus on other things that give us immediate feedback and measurable results… you know, instead of waiting the twenty or so years to find out if we have completely blown it or not.
When do you “arrive” in parenthood? Parenthood is a lot like life, in that it’s like going to school thinking you are the teacher, then finding out very quickly, you just made it to kindergarten.
But that’s not bad news.
It’s wonder-filled news actually. We begin to see things we never saw. We are looking through fresh eyes. All of a sudden, we understand for the first time how tiny and cute we once were—all of us.
That’s how it was for me. It was so weird. I’d be talking with someone I previously found “difficult”; one moment I’d be frustrated, the next moment I had these mental images of them as a baby too. That had never happened on the school playground. I had trouble seeing past my own nose in kindergarten the first time. This time though, experiencing the world with my newborn in my arms, through his eyes, the whole world has been born new.
Startling us from our familiar mindsets has it’s costs. Some of those sets have grown skewed over the years. Even so, the question gently laid before us in a multitude of ways, in myriad pieces of light streaming in, on, and over us as we walk through the fog is, “Am I prepared to let them go?” “Am I willing to pay the cost?”.
I could more easily contain Niagara Falls in a tea cup than I can comprehend the wild, uncontainable love of God.”
— Brennan Manning
In parenthood we meet ourselves, as we once were and as we now are. If that sounds tame, then I haven’t done a good enough job trying to describe it. It’s more wild than trying to fit Niagara Falls into a tea cup. It’s more wild than the highest free-fall. It’s wild like Aslan and we’re riding in the wind on his back.
If I could go back to newborn-parent me, I’d tell myself to hold on to that mane and let go for nothing. I’d say, “Feel that wind, that is your life breath, breathe deeply.” I’d tell me that if this isn’t wild then nothing is. If I could travel through time and sit down with grown-up-parent me I hope I’d sit silently and hear the sojourn song of love.
Parenthood is a passageway, and as with all rites of passage, we first die to emerge new.
And that’s not bad news.
I’m nearly 16 years into this ride and as I write this, tears fall. Tears for the goodness and tears for the wildness and tears for the hopefulness and tears for the realness. Tears fall for the thankfulness to see the world renewed six times now, never one time the same, never one time unneeded, never one time understood fully.
This I do know, the liminal space of parenthood generously equips us to serve those little (or big) ones experiencing the liminal space of childhood, which applies to everyone else in the world. We were all little children once.
Yeshua said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).
Raynna Myers is a writer, photographer, homeschooling mom of six and wife. Her first book, Pray, Like a Woman in Labor was published last year with a Foreword by Keren Hannah Pryor.
She writes at www.RaynnaMyers.com, from the trenches, to link arms with physical and spiritual mothers alike and anyone hungry to let Mercy lead.