Every evening when Michael and I get home from work we take Titus and our dog Honey out for a walk. While we do it because Honey whines if we don’t, we also enjoy the time as a family with few distractions and getting to visit with neighbors along the way.
We have been doing this every night for about 4 years now, so when Titus came along 6 months ago it was natural to add him to the routine too. Most days we would pop his car seat into our stroller and he would ride facing us as we walked. Some days when I didn’t want to lug the stroller out of the car, I’d put him in our sling or Moby wrap and carry him facing me. Normally he’d snuggle down and go right to sleep.
About a month ago, I decided to turn him around and let him face out in the carrier and let him ride in the stroller without the car seat so he can see everything. His neck muscles are strong enough now that he didn’t need the extra support, and the weather was nice enough that I wasn’t worried about trying to keep him covered up. Titus LOVES seeing everything around him – he’s a very social baby, so he’s perfectly content just taking in everything that he sees in stride.
While I loved watching him develop and explore his new vantage point, I couldn’t help but have a strange feeling come over me the first few times I let him ride out in the open. Suddenly I could not protect him from everything coming his way. I couldn’t keep the sun out of his eyes, or the germ-y kid from touching his hands nearly as easily as I could before. All of the sudden I felt very vulnerable. I was exposing my baby to the world, and I couldn’t take back the things he encountered.
Thankfully as the days have gone on, it has gotten easier. But it’s also gotten me thinking about my role as a parent and vulnerability. It is my job to protect my son from things that can hurt him, and by putting him in a vulnerable position, I also felt vulnerable and uneasy. I was putting myself and my son out there for all the world to see (okay – maybe just my street). But that’s part of life. As much as I want to, I can’t keep him in a cave (or a rear-facing car seat and carrier) forever.
When we are living life together, we are called to be vulnerable with each other. To let our guard down. To expose the tender areas of our lives to one another. It’s not always (or ever) easy. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes feels unnatural at first. But the more we do it, the more it becomes part of our daily living, the more natural it begins to feel.
What are you keeping sheltered and covered in your own life? Are there things God is asking you to be vulnerable with? Are there things you need to give up control of? Start today. It won’t be easy, but each day it will become a little more natural.