Natalie Ogbourne

I will not be posting during  June. Of the months of summer, it is June when my children are least busy and I want to put aside the distraction of the internet for that month. Between now and then, whether we–you and I–find ourselves at the ball field or the office, on the bike path or on the road, at a BBQ or in the laundry room,  I pray that the moments of summer–especially the fragile ones–will be filled the hope of redemption.  See you in July.

When our youngest was not quite four we traveled to the North Carolina beach. In the weeks leading up to our departure, every time we went somewhere new she asked, “Is this the beach?” It was after midnight when we walked the sidewalk to our week’s home. The unfamiliar sound of waves pounding the shore in the darkness pressed in on our unaccustomed souls and her excited refrain became an incredulous,  “This is the beach?”

One look out the window the next morning changed her mind.  A confirmed sand-lover, she was ready to dig.

The autumn Atlantic was cold, so the two of us spent most of our time on the sand. She dug. I read. The rest of the family flung themselves hard into the waves until they could take no more. Because they couldn’t always be in the water, we walked the beach and looked for shells. Normally, I despise looking for things. Hide and seek and geo-caching rank at the bottom of the list of activities I voluntarily participate in.

Shelling is different. Shelling is about discovery, about what you get to find, not what you have to find. That changes everything.

We pawed through a mound of coin-sized shells in our quest for tiny augers and I noticed the loveliness of what we passed over: fragments, worn smooth by their tenure on the ocean floor, that would eventually be crushed into sand. Individually, they were abandoned homes or the remains of creatures long dead. Together, they provided an exquisite footbed for those who walk the beach.

Some objects—sea glass is one— improve with the rolling around on the ocean floor. Shells don’t fare as well. Like a vacant farmhouse that begins to decay almost the moment the grass reaches the height of the front porch, shells succumb to their abandonment and land on the shore in various stages of brokenness. A few remain whole and lovely, while many which seem so are rotting, riddled with tiny holes and ready to break. I have days like that, fragile ones. Some days are fragile because I’m human. Some days are fragile because I’m a mom with blossoming young souls who depend on me to set the tone for our home.

Our last fragile day arrived with a long list of tasks to accomplish. We hadn’t gone far past breakfast before I realized we were all grumpy and that I was ready to go back to bed so I could start over. I gauged the collective family countenance and knew that my job that morning was to search for a way to redeem the broken bits of our day.

The list would have to wait.

I made a new one: Love them. Feed them. Play a game. Laundry. We all benefitted from the love, the food, and the lighthearted attention during the game; and even though they don’t know it, they were probably glad that they didn’t run out of clean underwear. In the end it was a good day.

It started with love which, as Saint Paul says, is the greatest of all. I agree.

And you? What do you do with fragile days?

Linking this week with Emily.