Closed, Healing in Progress

I have quite a lot to catch you up on. There was a move, a baby and a lot of growing pains. For now, we're going to talk about a single hike, on hot summer day. 

During the end of the calendar's summer season {I'm quickly learning that Southern California's summer season never ends}, we went on a hike in Malibu Creek State Park, a little drive down the Pacific Coast Highway {PCH}. For those unfamiliar with the California coast, the PCH is a scenic route, winding adjacent the Pacific Ocean. It’s beginning to be one of my favorite parts of the weekend for our family. This park in Malibu is gigantic and on the day we chose to do our family hike, a 25k finish line was at the top of the parking lot where we chose to park. My heart ached as I watched runners cross the finish line. I’m hardly in the shape I used to be, and I miss the feeling of running without a lot of baby-related heaviness. 

My goal for the summer was to get back on my feet, enough to keep up with my family. I’ve been walking out my muscles, trying to remind them that they exist and that they are capable. My goal very simple: to not be the reason for going home. I didn’t want to be the first one to quit, the mom who was tired and ready for a break. 

We began our hike, not knowing exactly where we were going or where the end was for us. Just exploring. This is nice about hiking: you can always turn around. Michael and I are not serious hikers. We could be one day, but we keep the hike relaxed since we have two small children with us. 

As we walked, I kept seeing small, but steep, hiker-made trails. Little trails where hikers wandered off the main trails. Each with a sign at the base the little trail.

The signs all read the same: Closed, Healing in Progress.

The words stayed with me as we hiked. 

Early Postpartum, I'm mindful of keeping my life simple. I focus on simple things like sleep, very gentle exercise, feeding my family and the milestones in my children's growth. Then, I get comfortable and greedy for a more ideal looking life. I start hitting other trails. I wander away from simplicity. Sometimes there's a shortcut, a fast-track to contentment, a bunch of "stuff" to buy. The trail leads to a pool or a fun play spot, a group of moms with ideals and values that look tasteful. Add it to the map, the list of trails to take, and soon it becomes a necessity. I need it. Next week we find a bird’s nest, a coffee shop, a new distraction or hobby. These little trails all take us somewhere new and exciting and I want to keep track of them. All of them. 

Add it to the hike that is my life. 

Suddenly, the sun is setting and I’m stuck in the middle of trails leading to nowhere. I can see the mountain we were supposed to climb today, the simple one, but I can’t find my way back to the main trail. I’m out of time and I’m lost. My kids are hungry and I feel panic setting in. The golden grass is smashed beneath my careless feet. I don't even know which way to go anymore, which way is home. 

Four months postpartum is a forgotten mama, even forgotten by herself. This time is hard. It’s too far past the 6 weeks of postpartum, when I was supposed to get my life buttoned up and tucked away. Four months is growth spurts, teething, sleep regression and separation anxiety. It’s a lot of tired body aches. It’s a lot of my-hair-is-falling-out and my weight-loss has plateaued. Some days are so great and some days are too much. 

And it’s not easy to see the grace that was holding me together a few months ago.

This is the perfect time to close the trails and stay on the main trail, the familiar. Take in and study the mountains, watch the hawks fly by and not worry about where they are headed. It’s time to heal again. It’s time to turn to God, and His grace, and be courageous enough to be grateful for this single trail, and just this trail. Because this trail is enough. 

Sometimes, we don’t have to bounce back; sometimes it’s okay for an event to shake us and change us forever.

Motherhood is one those events. Motherhood is supposed to change us, constantly.  

And I need to stop trying to bounce back, I need to let true healing take place. Growth is an ongoing cycle of breaking down muscle and building it back up and I never want to rest when I'm growing. I want results.

So I slow down the glutton in me that wants to conquer this mountain and know all it has to offer and I'll take up this shady tree for now. Taking in my surroundings piece by piece, leaf by leaf, speck by speck. 

 This beautiful view will change too soon. It is only temporary. 


On that day, as we stayed on the slow and steady pace of the main trail up that hill, I made it to the top. I looked around and admired the beauty with my family, drank my water quietly and gratefully {and a bit proud}, and crawled back down. We went a little ways further down the trails when we decided that the kids needed to head home for naps. I passed Lillian to Michael and was happy to put Lucy on my back.

Then, we followed the steady trail back to a place of rest and healing, my back tired and my heart full.