I’ve just returned home to my tribe from a dreamy girlfriends’ weekend with my college roommate in Scottsdale, Arizona. We planned the trip in January when I was up to my eyeballs in sleepless nights with my then six-week-old, wearing milk-stained tee-shirts and yoga pants, and binge watching Parenthood on Netflix before having to return to work. If you can’t read between the lines, I needed a break from my new life as a mom of four. Even though, at the time, said break was approximately 250 days away. I eagerly booked a flight, booked a room, and attempted to book a spa appointment (though the dears at the resort said eight months in advance was too early), and began counting down.
The weekend at the Camelback Inn Resort and Spa was everything I had been dreaming about. I relaxed on a pool raft without a child performing cannonballs over my head. I listened to live music I had forgotten about after jamming to Kids’ Place Live for the better part of a decade. I spoke to another adult uninterrupted for two hours. Girls, I took an afternoon nap.
Each morning I would wake up before dawn (my body never did adjust to the west coast) and walk the property with my camera just as the sun rose over Camelback Mountain. No picture quite captured the colors of the Painted Desert sky, but some things are best left to memory. As I photographed the desert flora—variations of cacti and aloe, palm trees and desert grasses—I began to notice an ordered pattern of nature that is true in every place I’ve been no matter the climate or topography: plants bear fruit. Even in the desert. Even between the 3″ spikes of a Barrel cactus.
There is fruit in the desert, and for me, that’s good news.
Seasons of life can be dry. As women, we give so much to so many and the demands of the day are exhausting. Our marriages, worn in and grooved, go through droughts where communication lines get crackly and muffled and date nights become fewer and further between. For those of us in the thick of the family years, our children deplete our resources, both figuratively and literally; we are left with raw, aching love for our babies but no product to show for it. Our bodies, now narrating our stories through stretch marks and laugh lines, bear seasons stuffed with contempt and starved of self-care. Our minds, full of half-realized dreams, scream at us with the dehydrated headache of what-ifs and wish-I-had-dones.
The water is deplete. The desert is dry. There isn’t enough rain. The oasis does not exist.
There is fruit in the desert.
That starving marriage can be nourished with time and dedication and, perhaps, counseling. Those babies won’t always need us in quite the way they do now, and will one day begin to express gratitude for our years of toil and love. Those gray hairs, hallelujah, can be colored into submission. Or not. Those thoughts can be trained. Those dreams can still be realized.
We’ve all spent time in the desert. It’s uncomfortable and lonely. Our throats get dry and our eyes burn. We turn our faces from the scorching sun. We crave the oasis. But hear me on this: there is fruit in the desert. When it’s least expected, when the rain doesn’t fall, when the sun is still hot and high and the ground is rocky, we bloom.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
Girlfriend, you are resilient and stronger than you know.
The drought will end, but while it remains, there is still fruit. Let that sink in.
Something new is springing forth. Do you feel it?
There is a way through the wilderness. A well-worn path journeyed by a sisterhood of women who have gone before you. They are waiting alongside desert streams. I am among them, and I’m saving a cold glass of water for you there.