I don't have to dig anymore.
I started the digging here, the panning for gold, when my children were very small. Most days, more often than not, I felt as though I was slogging through sludge.
Through no-nap-nap-times, sludge.
Through mashed squash feedings, slog.
Through inexplicable tantrums (theirs, not mine), slog.
Through diaper changes, sludge (in a far too literal way).
Even trips to the beach or walks in the park felt like more effort than reward. I spent far more time packing to leave the house and de-sanding little bodies than building castles and splashing in waves.
But I knew the time was fleeting, precious. I knew mothers who would trade their right arm and all hope of hot coffee for a chance to be home more with their children. (And I was one of them.) I knew I couldn't waste this gift, that I had to see beyond the daily slogging through sludge.
So at the end of the day, at the end of the slogging, I would dig. I would write until I found a cherished moment, until I could cry or laugh, until I could feel something other than weary.
But in these past few weeks, be it at home or in Maine, during my two-week solo-parenting stint or my three-day family reunion, I haven't slogged, not a single step. Galloped, skipped, sprinted, danced, yes. But no slogging. And no sludge.
I don't have to dig anymore!
The treasure pools at the surface, and I'm up to my neck in it such that I don't even have to bend to pick it up. It spills everywhere, and it feels more natural to say thank you than to complain.
I didn't once have to lecture myself to "be in the moment" when we were in Maine. I just was. Even in the ridiculously long car ride, there were as many sweet moments (Caed reading The Boxcar Children to Dani) as there were awful ones (incessant fighting over the truth of Dani's most inane and irrelevant assertions). This is miraculous. Miraculous, I tell you!
Now, I know this "easy" stage won't last forever. I know hardship isn't forever banned from my life. But for now? I know beauty when I see it. I know blessing when I feel it. And I know treasure when I find it.
And these days, even without the aid of a shovel or a pen, I'm finding it everywhere. I don't have to dig anymore.
I met a sweet writer/momma friend for lunch this week, and as we talked about our reasons for writing, as I assured her that it does get easier, it dawned on me that I no longer rely on writing as a way to find and name the good in my life. Because it's suddenly right here, obvious, and I see it without straining.
What stage do you find yourself in? I want to encourage you, if you are in the slog and sludge stage, to keep hunting for reasons to say thanks, and to keep treasuring the moments you can. But I also want to tell you that it really does get easier, that there is treasure ahead, and to keep looking.