Walking Together


I’m feeling lonely today–sitting on my couch and watching through the window as snow trickles down. We had a busy, fun week last week and I miss my growing boys. Still celebrating their birthdays in my heart–always. I wrote this for Emily a while back and am feeling the gift of this today.
We walk.
It’s not something I planned, or thought out very well, but I remember my mother doing the same with me. And ever since their legs could carry small frames upright, this is what we’ve done.
Sometimes it’s just me, needing to get out from under the thumb of this house…needing to breath deep. But as I squeeze through the small crack in the door—shrug off the bindings of the day—I give the invitation. And they usually follow.
We stand on the threshold of the world together, look into each others’ faces, and step out.
With each step, I feel the trappings of busy-ness unfurl like fingers—that lingering ribbon of time begins to unwind. They feel it too; I see it in the free way they step.
We slow.
When they were small four tiny fingers would curl around my one. A boy on each side. That’s how we would go. The smallest delight would catch their eyes back then…a tiny insect, puddle of water, a smooth stone. They were, after all, closer to this crust we walk around on. I learned that chubby legs can traverse infinite ground.
Now, when we walk, their shoulders brush against mine.  I find myself looking up into eyes the same blue as my own.
Most days we go down to the creek—stare through light playing on water. Minnows and crawfish scurry away under our shadows, find refuge under the smooth flat rocks on the streambed. After a storm, the water rushes heady, churning mud and debris along its path. We throw leaves and small sticks over the bridge and run to the other side to see whose craft travels through the fastest.
Other days we head to the meadow, or cross the highway to stroll between the loping farmlands.
We talk easy as we move. It’s a habit now. Lately, we bring a tennis ball. Toss it back and forth and up and over to each other. I try to catch it with my nondominant hand. It’s good exercise for my brain, I tell them. So they try it too.
Mostly, we just be together. And it feels good.
I know it won’t always be this easy. They are no longer  fascinated by ladybugs. The smooth, cool stones by the creek bank hold no particular allure.
My husband, who has one brother, once told me that when he entered adolescence, his mother stopped hugging him.
I know I didn’t want her too, he said. She was just doing what I asked.
I watched them a few years ago when she was preparing to leave for a trip to Spain. We went to say goodbye the night before her departure. When the time came for us to leave, they hovered about each other nervously.
Will you please hug your mother?
I gave him permission. And everyone giggled as he wrapped her in his arms.
Once, when he was in second or third grade, my firstborn said to me, Mom, you have to stop this hugging stuff.
I took his face in my two hands, looked him in the eye, and said, Never. I will never stop hugging you.
They no longer reach for my hand as we walk together. But they’ve grown used to my hand on their back, my arm wrapped in theirs.
There are a lot of things I do not do well. Dinner is not always homemade. Sometimes they watch too much TV. Laundry sits unfolded in the basket as the door closes behind us.
But this I do well—this being together.  When we walk together, we are present—right there in that moment. We leave behind what is behind and be together. All it takes is time.
And putting one foot in front of the other.

Comments

  1. pam says

    The older I get the more of His wisdom do I gather. Good habits are nice and lovely wives will bless your name some day if they have gathered a few skills along the way….but TIME….that beats all. Keep walking…..precious time together beats any skill, because along the way in our time with our children there is time to talk about God and how this relationship thing with Him works. I always think it sounds like you have such lovely places to walk….to notice His world.

  2. Kendal Privette says

    yeah. we’re home a little extra these days – holiday and snow/ice. and the older wants to play boggle….and i am undone for the time spent with this senioritis-suffering, love-stuck big boy….

  3. says

    Never stop the hugging. Love those words of wisdom. My kids are all adults and I find hugging the girls easier than my son. will change that next time I see him – he is due for one big hug from his mama!

  4. soulstops says

    oh, yes…walking with your boys is infinitely more important/eternal than laundry…it won’t grow…okay, maybe if it is left a very long time alone (wink)…I get this needing to get away from “the thumb of the house”…keep hugging…sending you a hug from my side of the country, dear Laura 🙂

    P.S. It took me over a month to recover from the Christmas break….God is gracious.

  5. pastordt says

    This is a lovely habit and a lovely essay, too. How I wish I had done this with my own kids. Now walking is a solitary thing for me and I actually love it – it centers my prayer life, my thought life. But I came late to it and that is a big regret. (And I’d say this practice is FAR more valuable than home-cooked meals every night. Oh, yeah.)

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  7. ML Bucher says

    Oh, this is sweet – being the mother of sons – that is the trickiest part – the move from un-abandoned hugs to grudging hugs – and beyond. That is the toughest part – and that transition so needs grace – grace like you’ve described!

  8. Amy Anderson says

    This is such a beautiful picture—all of it, the walking and the hugging. My sister-in-law, who is one of the best mothers I know, sums up her mothering advice as walking and talking with your children, both literally and figuratively. This made me think of that. Also, I like the idea of taking a tennis ball along! A fun and helpful addition to the time.

  9. Donna says

    I know it’s very late, but this is just beautiful. I love that your boys walk with you… I still have 2 automatic hand-holders ( my 3 and 5yr old sons), but my older 2 children have grown out of the habit 🙁 I’m still allowed hugs, which I think I’ll be insisting on for the rest of their lives!

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