Joyful MOMents to leap for
“Men are that we might have joy.” Right? So, I want to share an unexpected, joyful MOMent … in fact, I rank it as the No. 1 joyful MOMent in my 2018 so far!
It all starts with a seven-year-old boy and his net. This little lad’s dream job would be a catch-and-release environmental project – like tagging butterflies or, better yet, lizards. His brown eyes double in size and his heart starts playing a mad drum solo whenever he’s pouncing on a critter. What cracks me up is that he seems equally impassioned and panicked during the process. Relatable, yes!? Sometimes I want to go for something big, but the fear gets big too …
Well, as a novice netter, he’s a 1 in 1,000 shot right now. I think he’s caught three frogs with the tool thus far, with two of those happening during this story (he’s getting better!).
There’s a state park near our home that we venture to frequently. On this particular day the sun warms the ever-damp ground, and we just know cold-blooded creatures will be basking. So with one hour before piano lessons, we stroll around three ponds.
He swings-and-misses countless times … until on the return trip a little wet wonder winds up in the net. He squeals with delight and holds the frog for only a minute before returning him to water. That small catch absolutely makes his day. He beams and bounces all the way back toward the car.
But the adventure’s not over yet. On the return trip, we pass by the widest pond once more – and his sisters convince him to hand over the blue bag-on-a-stick so they can have a try. Each girl gives a go … each catches nothing but net. Surely, all the frogs in the region had croaked a call of warning by this time.
But then Eli spots him – a big, beauty of a bullfrog. This green guy doesn’t move amongst the mayhem. He stands his ground, still as a statue, and goes unnoticed … until now.
Eli regains his net and creeps from behind. Anna grabs my phone, asking to video the attempt. I nod a go-ahead and grab my big camera for the fun of it. Take a peak …
Do you hear that? Do you hear the crazy excitement and joy? Even if it isn’t ripping from my vocal chords, I’m feeling it rip inside too! Eli almost loses his freckles, his face explodes with so many emotions! First there’s triumph, and then a lightning bolt of “What do I do now? I’m terrified!” flashes. Then his muscles take control, because that bullfrog is HUGE and weighes down the wobbly net!
We take the prized prisoner a few feet up a little hill before trying to hold him.
Oh, the commotion!
Oh, the blood-pumping fun of it all!
Avery’s barely holding the tip of the net’s stick – half wanting to bolt and half wanting to play a part in the tale. Eli’s got his baseball pants hiked up and he’s digging in with both hands. Milo (the pup goes with us everywhere – so naturally he’s in the adventure) knows something amazing is happening, and his doggy adrenaline starts rushing as fast as his tail wags. Anna poses herself downhill a bit to film the next video clip – unknowingly positioning herself right in the line of danger. And I can’t stop smiling. I think I gave some instructions … but I don’t know … “It’s a blur, sir,” to quote the broadway Hamilton.
So, Eli manages to unhook those webbed toes from the net and removes the struggling, stretching, slimy king of a bullfrog from the net – only to (you guessed it) have it stretch right out from his fingertips. PLOP! – the frog drops to the ground and begins racing home …. He jumps right toward our camera woman. Hence, the next video clip contains crazy screaming and whirling images of the ground.
Stay with me though, because this is when the action really amps up. As the frog makes gigantic hops, Milo joins in. Four furry feet and four flying webbed feet tangle and take off. Milo doesn’t know what he’s chasing, and King Bullfrog surely doesn’t know what kind of creature is chasing him. At one point, the dog got in front of the frog. All the while, I’m worrying the dog will eat the frog … the frog’s probably worrying about that too.
Then, for a split second, everything stops. The frog freezes. The dog turns to face the frog. The animals make eye contact. There’s silence – like every bird is silent. Even the screaming girls are silent. And then SWOOP, Avery heroically covers the frog with net a second time!
It all happens so fast. There’s no time to process thoughts. Looking back, this would have been the ideal time for me to call a, “Freeze!” and then attempt to get everyone to breathe and maybe have a conversation about options and making a plan … but instead we wing it and the adventure continues … for a few more seconds.
Eli peaks under the net. Out pops the frog. The second chase commences … until the frog safely swims away from the pond’s edge.
After that splash into the pond (and calling Milo out of the pond), the chatter starts … well, a lot of whooping and hollering happens first … and then, “Holy Moly that just happened! Did you see how big he was? I can’t believe it!” We pant and yap all the way to piano lessons.
One thing I love about our silly little slimy adventure is that it felt pure – there were no veils of other feelings placed over it. That’s been rare for me lately – to feel something without mixed emotions. I got lost in the MOMent, and it felt wonderful. I noticed that my kiddos and I all commented on the JOY of the experience. It FELT amazing to participate in it – and to feel the joy together, simultaneously, is especially treasured and unifying. What joy for a mama heart. What a MOMent.
Thanks for reading along. I’m wishing you an unexpected, joyful MOMent this week! If you have one, or have had one recently, I’d love to hear a blurb of it below in the comments section!!! Let’s spread stories of joy.
I’ll close with a favorite line from Fiddler on the Roof’s song, “To Life”
God would like us to be joyful,
Even when our hearts lie panting on the floor.
But how much more can we be joyful
When there’s really something to be joyful for?
To life, to life, l’chaim.