My head against the glass of our fifth story window, my eyes lingered on that row of rental bikes near our Ronald McDonald House across the street. Yet again we’d found ourselves sequestered post-operatively with our daughter at a children’s hospital miles from home. By day eight, my bike riding daydreams were quite vivid.
As the parent of a child with complex medical needs, this life wasn’t new to me. My knees were familiar with prayer time, and my heart, mind and body accustomed to being poured out on her fragile behalf.
But then came Sunday. Rounds were complete, my daughter comfortable, my mom sitting with us, and the staff at bare minimum. As we clicked on “Annie” for our eleventh viewing, I looked out again at those bikes shining in the summer sun. I’d left her bedside many times for naps or laundry, but for joy rides?
What if I miss the surgeon? What if she cries? What if they forget to give her pain meds on schedule?
“Go,” my mom urged, so I slipped out of the room.
As I pulled out my credit card, and the bike unlocked, something within me unlocked as well. I pumped the pedals fast and I meandered slow. My hair blew and my heart pumped. My soul responded with a flood of emotion, from elation to angry tears.
When I returned, with new breath in my lungs, my girl smiled wide. And instead of clicking onto that next movie, we pulled out the paints we’d set aside and turned on some music. Soul care. It was long past time for both of us.
That joy ride shifted my thinking. Yes, my first priority was my family. Yes, life was hard and full. But I’d remembered the value of attending to the soul.
If my soul could choose, it would travel the globe. It would take the beginner’s pottery class at our local art center or rent a mountain cabin for writing and creekside hiking. Unfortunately, my soul care has limited parameters right now.
The reality is, I am a medical mom of four children. We’ve got loaded to do lists and places to be. There are multiplication tables to memorize, dishes that need scrubbing, book reports to complete and Cub Scout meetings to attend.
But still, the tea towel in my kitchen beckons me, “Do something each day that brings you joy.”
I might not be spinning pasta onto my fork in Venice today, but I can take mini “joy rides”. I can jog in my subdivision or take a bubble bath behind locked door. I can pull out my “mom only” fancy pens and coloring book or exercise for twenty minutes with a phone app while the kids play. I can sip tea and read a Psalm in a rocking chair for ten minutes before the day starts. If I pop in my ear buds and pour myself a glass of wine while I cook, I de-stress from the fussing around the homework table, and my soul will be reset for better dinner conversation.
None of this is productive in the to-do list sense, but highly productive in maintaining the health of my soul. It might feel silly, or wasteful, to let your soul take a mini joy ride, but consider it just as important as exercise and healthy eating. When we attend to our souls, the whole family feels it.
Soul care helps settle a home, and it’s also a gift I want to give my kids. I want them to know how to multiply and make a bed, but I also want them to discover what makes them come alive. I want to help them increase their capacity to both survive and thrive. If they see me do it, I hope they’ll learn to take their own joy rides.
How about you? Grab a pen and head out alone for some sun on the front step for a moment. Consider what little and big things could bring you joy in 2018. What makes you feel alive? Push yourself to boldly list them. Could you plant flowers? Register for a 5K? Try a new recipe for just you and your husband after the kids go to bed? Grab a deck of cards and play Solitaire? Visit a museum? Cheer at a baseball game? Do a hand lettering workbook? Sing at the top of your lungs with the car windows down? Jump on your kids’ trampoline? Invite a friend to a movie?
Now you’ve got yourself a 2018 soul care bucket list.
After that Sunday bike ride in the hospital, came Monday. The new day brought my girl discomfort and agitation. For hours, to no avail, I tried everything I could think of, from holding her, to distracting her with SnapChat. Then I remembered my joy ride, so I dimmed the fluorescent lights, pulled a chair and tray table close to her bed, and dumped out a 100 piece puzzle. I hummed as I sorted through the pieces. She was annoyed at first, but I kept humming and sorting. Then slowly, as I settled, so did she, so I moved the tray closer and asked her to help me find all the sky pieces.
Soul care. As it turns out, as we moms attend to our souls, the whole family settles.
If you find yourself dragging frazzled into 2018, I hope you’ll add joy rides to your resolution list. Write yourself a permission slip to seize a little slice of joy every single day.
Rebecca Radicchi, with her husband and four small people, lives outside Atlanta, where the summers are hot and the tea is sweet. She used to be a perfectionist with a life plan, until God used parenting, adoption, cancer, and being a medical mom to turn her life right side up. Today, with the help of English Breakfast Tea and a handful of dark chocolate almonds, she lives twenty-four hours at a time surrendered to the God she’s found faithful. She writes about the realities of adoption over at No Hands But Ours. And, as she writes about the wild, salty sweetness of her family’s life on her blog, she hopes you too will experience the freedom and wonder in one day at a time living.