There are moments in motherhood that I’d rather forget; words like episiotomy and mastitis conjure up ugly memories that are best left dormant. I try to tuck those away in the proverbial cranial cobwebs and file them as “Yowzers”.
And although there are big memories like first birthday parties or jumping up and down in the bathroom celebrating the glorious production of “yellow” in the appropriate venue; those milestones are anticipated and fulfilled in their due time. They are mentally filed away in the “Phew” folder.
But yesterday evening, I was blessed with a priceless half hour; the sun had set over the horizon, and all that remained was the soft glow of dusk. There was just enough of a breeze to keep the mosquitoes from devouring our flesh like tiny piranhas. It was the best that June has to offer, and we drank it in among the clover and broadleaf farm that we try to pass off as a lawn.
As I watched the girls chase each other across the yard, something flickered in the corner of my eye. I did a double take…it was their debut of the season; lightning bugs.
With the enthusiasm of a four year old, I hopped off my perch on the front porch and commanded the kiddos, “Stay in the yard, I’ll be right back!” I scrambled through the screen door and ran to the kitchen with a stupid grin on my face. Under the sink, way back behind the plumbing was a collection of jars. I choose the largest one—an old pasta sauce jar—and hurried back to the front yard.
I smiled at my innocent toddlers as I led them out into the grass. Kneeling between them I pointed to the nearest bug with its bum glowing yellow. “Lookie, girls, did you see it? Ooh, there’s another one!”
At that moment, not but two feet in front of us, a newly hatched lightning bug showed us his taillights. My youngest daughter, Reagan, oozed out a “Wow, Mommy!” as she sucked in her breath.
And then I blew their little minds. I reached out and gently caught the little bugger. Four blue eyes just about bulged out of their little skulls at the sight of an insect crawling on my hand. “It’s a lightning bug, uh, I mean,” I stammered with a Mommy edit. Bugs are icky; June bugs, water bugs, blech…and we certainly don’t catch them on purpose. So I recovered with, “They are fireflies!” Yes, much better…butterflies, good. Dragonflies, good. And now fireflies. The few bugs we do not kill at first sight…
“Here…” I transferred our first catch to Abigail’s chubby hand and she giggled as its little legs tickled her. Before it flew away, I popped it into the empty jar and showed it to them. The gaze of wonder on their faces imprinted into my retinas…a tiny, insignificant discovery in the grand scheme of God’s creation. Yet it made me feel like a child again to see it through their eyes.
Without any coaxing, they began to dart around the yard capturing the fireflies and bringing them back to the jar. Reagan bellowed at them, “Fa-flies! Fa-flies!” as she pranced across the lawn with a skipping, hoppity motion. Her sister just simply squealed in delight, as if she had never had so much fun. As silly as it may seem, I felt the same way.
When our jar was full—a twinkling lantern powered by the glowing heinies of a couple dozen beetles—we retired to the porch steps. I held the jar on my lap as the girls sandwiched my rump between theirs; they both snuggled it to watch the tiny light show that God had given us.
I opened the jar, and one by one, the captives found their escape passage, fluttering away into the night.
They sang out, “Bye fa-flies! Ni-night, fa-flies!” They waved goodbye. They giggled. They blew kisses.
As I sat there on my stoop, feeling somewhere between the ages of four and thirty four, I relished the sensation of my spirit being the texture of cotton candy; fluffy, young, and sweet. With an arm around each daughter, a content, happy tear splashed into the now empty jar.
I think I will file this one away in the folder, “My cup floweth over…”
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