I exit my car at the ballet school, gather my next hour distractions from the back seat, and absent-mindedly hit the lock button on the car door before I stride into the cross walk. There’s a mom and a daughter standing nearby at the bottom of a hill-nothing to notice really. And then I hear a voice from the top of the hill, “Mommy, open your arms!” as another small child prepares to spill down the hill. Three times she spiritedly makes the request as she waits for her mother to open her arms. Finally she bursts down the hill, chubby little legs churning and I’m mesmerized-caught off guard by the innocence of the moment: a simple, direct childhood request made in complete faith and trust that once those arms are opened no amount of careening will end in disaster.
My heart stops. How many times has one of my children said, “Mommy, open your arms!” “Open your heart!” “Open your mind!” “Open your life!” And how many times have I stood at the bottom of the hill staring at them with my arms resolutely at my side? “I can’t catch you, I disapprove of what you’re doing.” “I can’t catch you, I’m too busy.” ” I can’t catch you, I’m barely standing here myself.” I suspect that all they need to know is that at the end of an adventure-could-be-disaster is safety. It’s pretty simple: open my arms, my heart and catch them. I forget that they are not saying solve all of my problems, have all of the answers, judge all of my decisions or even create all of my opportunities. Sometimes they just want a safety net of loving arms.
Now I’m crying at ballet. Sheesh.
I think the older we get the more encoded the requests become; but I have a feeling that hidden in most adolescent and adult chatter is the simple request, “Open your arms!” And like the mom at the bottom of the hill today, I can very simply open my arms. I think I have time for that. I know I have time for that. Hugs all around!