Yesterday morning I wanted to run for the hills. I really did. I wanted to be Julie Andrews twirling and singing, “the hills are alive…” without a care in the world. Prince Charming and I couldn’t agree on how to properly decorate the castle. The court jester and his big sister fought and whined over absolutely nothing. My ball gown was not nearly as flattering on as I had imagined it would be. And feelings of mommy-guilt overwhelmed me as I reacted to my children more like the wicked stepmother instead of the merciful queen-mother. Sigh…The hills were looking pretty spectacular from my vantage point. I was definitely in a valley. One could even call it a dungeon.
While I don’t know the exact history of the phrase “run for the hills,” I have some ideas about why people use it. The top of a hill provides a clear, and sometimes beautiful, view of the surrounding area. Ancient cities were established on hilltops. In the military, hills offer a great advantage over the enemy, which when I sometimes think of my children, that idea brings a smile to my face…I love them, my children; I really do. Hills offer escape, solitude, joy. They are necessary. They are glorious. They are God-given.
But hills do not exist without valleys. And often we are trying to escape the valleys. I think sometimes wanting to run to the hills is a natural reaction to a need, and not necessarily a yearning we should feel guilty about. I’m not suggesting we run to the hills and stay there. First it’s not responsible. Second, it’s impossible. No one can stay on a hill forever. Like the genius scientist once said, “What goes up, must come down.” (Or something like that…) But with that said, the day-to-day aspects of motherhood can be hard. Motherhood is filled with valleys. It can be monotonous. And without doubt, it is exhausting. I need the hilltops. I need the moments of joy and deep-breathing they can bring in order to know I can survive the day or even the next hour.
Here is what I am learning about the hilltops that bring joy. They come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are tiny, eliciting only few moments of laughter and reprieve. Sometimes they are tall and wide, lasting for days. The trouble is, I often miss them. If I am not looking for the joy in my days, seldom will I find it. Frustrated and tired, I sat on my floor yesterday putting shoes on my two year-old son, again. I was so focused on my valley, I almost missed my hilltop. I almost missed my moment of joy. My sweet, chubby-cheeked court jester, who had been screaming in anger only seconds earlier, grabbed my face and planted a wet kiss on my lips. Suddenly I realized I had a choice.
I could choose to scour the hilltop my sweet Jesus had just placed upon my horizon, or I could stay in my valley by patting him on the head and continuing to trudge through the rest of my morning. Thankfully, instead, I chose the hilltop. I chose to stay on the floor, kiss my son back on his soft, pudgy cheek, and watch as he playfully wiped my kisses off. It became a sweet game. I’d kiss his cheek; he’d wipe it off. Back-and-forth. He giggled, and I laughed. Did my day magically become easy? No. But did I get to run for the hills, even for a few minutes? Yes. And there, dear friends, I found joy.