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Thursday, February 11, 2016


word of the day: render \ˈren-dər\ to cause to be or become; to give in return or retribution

I'd like to tell you how this word first got stuck in my head, but I can't remember. I thought I read it in this book, but after a particularly exhaustive search, I realized that I didn't. It's times like these where I wish there was some sort of search history for your brain. Some kind of web that connected the order of all your thoughts (like how IMDB can show you how you got all the way to Saved by the Bell: The College Years from The West Wing.) Am I the only person who wishes my thoughts could take shape as a color coded flow-chart? 

I recognize that none of this is really relative, but given the 45 minutes I just spent trying to dig up a single word from my memory banks (to no avail), I'm having trouble letting go. 

Anyway, I've been thinking about render for awhile. Those multiple meaning words always get me, you know? 

Sometimes when you render something, you change it. You melt something down, or you change the state of it. Back in the late 1900s, we used to burn CDs for each other, and you had to wait while the disc was "rendering." 

But "render" also involves giving something back in return. The act of changing and the act of giving back. It's powerful word play in my mind. 

So, toddlers. 
I am realizing that the task of raising tiny humans is both isolating and unifying all rolled up into one exasperating breath. It is unifying because, of course, you are not alone. There are those who have gone before you--the moms who have lived it and testify to the notion that "this too shall pass." And there are those in the thick of it with you--the moms who are living it alongside you for the first time and can commiserate when you send a single text made up of only angry, red-faced emojis.   
But as many people as you surround yourself with (and believe me, I have gathered myself a small army), often you're physically alone in the hardest of moments. And, advice goes a long way, but no one knows your people like you know your people. The parenting gig is weighty. If I get this wrong, I can't blame the army. Because I'm the one who is here. Who knows my own kids.
It's all part of the rendering process.  It reminds me of the excerpt of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years that I referenced here toward the end of our medical school journey. This continues to be the hard work of the middle. And, if I keep paddling, my character will be rendered. Molded into something better (Lily and Norah's will too, for that matter.).

And when you do this, when you gain a little foresight and look at the grand scheme of things, then you're able to render aid to someone else. That army of moms who has gone before me? Their help is invaluable because they kept paddling through. They didn't give up when the going was tough. They allowed the hard work of the middle to make them better and then used the rendering to render in return. 

Similarly, I have felt this impact in every season of my life: high school, college, teaching, medical school, residency. There have been people all along the way who have used their own experiences to shape mine. 

That's the stuff to be thankful for. And that's the stuff to shoot for. To embrace the rendering of my own life so that down the road I can render help to someone else's.
Until then, we'll just keep paddling over here. Wading through the muddy waters and giving each other a lot of grace along the way. 

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