The other day my husband worked a particularly long day. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, I do a little bit of hand-wringing. Sixteen hours with just me and the toddler? I love my daughter and I love being home with her, but a mom can lose her wits from time to time.
It turned out to be a great day, and as we cuddled in bed before falling asleep, I read her a little board book rendition of the Wizard of Oz. She loved the story and started asking questions, so I found her a video of Dorothy and her friends skipping down the Yellow Brick Road.
One video turned into a few, and as we watched, this strange and wistful wave of nostalgia washed over me. It was like all this dormant wonder and amazement awakened inside of me, coming to life nearly twenty-five years later. I was a kid the last time I saw Dorothy, and I felt tears well in my eyes at her tender innocence and vulnerability.
Despite all this, there was something else that really got to me. She kept talking about this wizard who was going to fix everything, but all the while she was doing just fine. Dorothy navigated an unknown land on her own. She made friends who helped her along the way, and she even slapped a lion in the face when the men around her collapsed in fear.
I wanted to turn to someone and say, “Was it always this obvious?” She clearly doesn’t need the wizard. She doesn’t know she already has everything she needs.
I’m not gonna lie. Motherhood feels a lot like Oz. I often feel like that tender young girl who got caught up in the tornado and crash-landed in a strange Technicolor landscape full of adorably odd tiny people– tiny people in brightly colored clothes with strange customs and bizarre behaviors I can’t decipher or understand. They’re cute, but I can’t help feeling like they could turn on me at any minute.
To tell you the truth, there’s not a small part of me who is really tired from the journey and hoping a magical wizard will come along and help me get back to a place that feels like home.
I think the beauty of motherhood is that it is, in fact, a journey. Like any journey, it is an ever-unfolding story, one in which the beautiful heroine discovers her own nuggets of dormant greatness. Through her travels, she discovers she has the brains and brawn that adapt to the challenges of each new day. She taps into a courage that raises its noble head and roars, and she accesses the resilience that persists just below the surface.
Most of all, she unearths the mighty, unfailing love that powers the engine and keeps it all afloat.
I like to think that the best is yet to come, and that each mama already has all the greatness she needs. I am the girl who creates a beautiful life, with nothing but the brain between my ears and the courage in my bones. I am the girl with the giant, ruby-red heart who faces her fears, and discovers herself on her way back home. You are that girl as well.
Someday this journey might begin to make more sense. Someday, we might speak the language and navigate the terrain with greater ease. When that day comes, our starry-eyed and discombobulated expressions just might be replaced by a calm self-assurance, because we will have discovered that we’ve always been exactly who we needed to be.
Jayna is a San Diego wife and mama who became a writer and stay-at-home parent when her daughter, Jude, was born three years ago. She is married to her high school sweetheart, who loves and inspires her everyday. She and her family recently transitioned to the (almost) country life, where they spend their time enjoying the fresh air, growing vegetables and making reclaimed wood furniture. Her blogs can be found at www.jaynarae.com, and www.jlondonfurniture.com/blog. (Bio photo by Katie Gardner)