I had Russell on my hip the other day and bumped his little head into a door in our house. He was fine, but I felt terrible. I haven’t dropped him yet, or seen him fall off the bed, but I’m sure that day will come. I’ve heard lots of honest parents tell me the stories, “I turned around for a split second, and she fell off the changing table!” I’m sure I’ll cry when that happens, and I’ll maybe write about it and let you know, but no promises on that part. Russell falling reminds me of that old lulabye:
Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetops,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
What a terrible song to sing. Who came up with that nursery rhyme anyway? Lets sing a song about the baby falling. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Maybe the rhyme is meant to comfort us and let us know we’re not alone? The truth is, there are many falls in parenting and in life. Sometimes the falls are catastrophic, as when I unintentionally hurt someone I love, but sometimes they are simply gaps between my ideal reality and my real life. I really wish my house looked like the Pottery Barn catalog and I do what I can to add nice touches, but on most days it looks like a grenade hit the cheerio aisle at Safeway. I want my meals to be locally grown and artistically displayed like at Root Down and Linger restaurants, but on most days, we are lucky if we get one whole food on the table, and the presentation is far from artistic.
I appreciate when people sing their true life lullabyes with me and let down the façade of perfection. I value when they tell me the real scoop about the conflict they had during the drive to church, or when they have me in their home and don’t clean up first, or when they are comfortable enough to share their spiritual disappointment and grief without a lot of fancy word-smithing to disguise their raw pain. “And down will come baby, cradle and all.” I’m comforted by this kind of honesty. I feel like I’m not alone. Your transparency helps me extend grace to myself – in superficial areas, like housekeeping and cooking – and in more important contexts like relationships, parenting and faith. The truth is, God sees every dropped cradle in our lives and still loves us extravagantly. This is the gift of grace, and it is what enables us to fail, and fall, and try again. And again.