On Monday, the HBH (Hot Black Husband) and I loaded the boys into the car and set off for a grand adventure in the woods. We try and hit up nature at least once come the weekend, because there’s just something about getting out of the house and rolling around in the dirt. Mind you, we also have visions of training up our own army of hiking soldiers who obediently follower their commander (me) and chief (him) up and down hills, over and under treacherous urban landscapes.
Then we remember that said envisioned army of hiking soldiers are one and three years old and that “hiking” along with all forms of the word “obedience” can sometimes be far from their toddler vocabularies.
So instead we frolic.
We stop and pause to smell – not roses – but everything else that catches a little boy’s attention. We stomp in mud puddles, much to Mama’s chagrin, and we say “Woof woof!” to every dog along the way. We begin to shriek when we’re hungry for food, (uniquely characteristic of child numero dos who grew in my womb), and we ask for piggy-back rides atop Daddy’s already-tired shoulders. We play Follow the Leader, until we realize that it’s just Mama and Daddy playing said game, and the one for whom the game was invented continues to lag fifty feet behind dangerously poking a stick at a petrified pile of dog doo.
It takes us an hour to trek half a mile, and by the time we reach the .5 mile marker, we begin to laugh, for according to our calculations it’s going to take an additional four hours to make it all the way around the 2.67 mile lake.
So we turn around. We ask the boys if they’re ready for the next adventure. We run forwards and we hop backwards; we skip and we jump and we take a few more minutes to peer into the trickling creek to our right. We practice our balance walking on the line in the middle of the pavement, and we wave hello to all the people who pass us – because we are certainly not the passing type today.
I remember those days, they say to us wistfully. We smile. We nod. We kiss the writhing baby we’re not-so-successfully attempting to wrangle towards the car.
And when we finally get back to the car, when tears are wiped and tummies are fed and upcoming adventures of frozen yogurt is bribed, we, the commander and the chief, look at each other and grin.
We did it.
We got out into nature and we “hiked” with our littles.
We conquered the Great Outdoors as best we knew how, even if we didn’t make it that far, even if a sweat was far from broken, even if it sometimes felt like there were more tears than smiles.
And isn’t this true of all of us? Aren’t we all merely, simply doing the best we can?
It’s a phrase I’ve come across quite a bit lately: Brene Brown writes about doing the best we can extensively in her newest book, Rising Strong. Aren’t we all doing the best we can, she asks? Do you believe this about yourself and about others? And how does believing these words true teach us to give more grace and to offer more mercy and to throw out more love?
Seth Haines continues with her sentiments in his recent spiritual memoir, Coming Clean. At one point in the narrative, he gives new words to Jesus’ old prayer: Father, forgive them …for they’re doing the best they know how.
They’re doing the best they can, said Jesus, on his way to the cross.
Because then and now, this they’re is really just me.
I’m too quick to anger and I’m too quick to curse. I’m too slow let go of my expectations of others and of myself and offer grace. I’m not always prone to listen more than I speak, even though I’d really, really like to be a good listener. And sometimes, deep down in the depths of my gut, I have a hard time believing that others are doing the very best they can.
So, call this another resolution for the new year, or simply the message I need to hear, but this is my new phrase. I want these words to ring through my head and echo in my mind when I’m in conversation with others. I want this belief to change me.
Could it be the same for you?
We’re all doing the best we can: do you believe it? Can you believe it? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the phrase …and on hiking with littles, if applicable.
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