(originally written Thursday, April 26, 2013)
The days. They are so short, go by so quickly. Somehow Max is over halfway to his first birthday, and my baby bug is going to be 3 years old in 4 short months. What?! How did this happen?
I try to absorb each day; each blessed day I get to be with them, to play with them, clean up their messes, and help them reach new goals. Many days are calm, fun, and messy. Others are hectic, tear filled, and more than messy. That’s what it’s about though, right? I mean, whether you are home all day with your children or you work outside the home, life is all about the messy moments- whether they are controlled chaos or full blown out of control, whirlwinds.
It’s hard. I’ve never done something that was so challenging in my life.
except maybe learn how to drive a stick, at which I was never successful .. There are days I need more control than I have, and others that I let go and just let it happen. Those days, I have learned, are the easiest. This morning J.Tom, Lexie, and I sat on the bed. I handed her milk and declared today a NO housework day. No laundry, no vacuuming, no house work day. I’ve cleaned up the crumbs, and picked up toys after we played with them. The rest of the time all my attention was with the kids. I say my attention was “with” them, not on them because though I was there watching and interacting I wasn’t hovering.
Sometimes I wonder if stay at home moms are misunderstood? Not that it matters, we all know why we are home with our babies, no matter the reason. But sometimes comments from others makes me wonder, what do they think we do all day? What kind of person do they think I am?! We don’t lay on the couch all day watching tv. It’s not so I can micro manage their lives and create a perfect specimen. On the contrary, for our family being home is about soaking in all the mistakes and character flaws, then turning them into lessons later. Not to mention just the time we absorb together, as a family, learning about the each other, Christ, the world. But you know, being a parent is somewhat about controlling what your children are exposed to, how they’re exposed to it, and at what age. If I am going to take full responsibility for my children, I think JTom and I probably need to take control of the paths we lead them down. I never wanted a family; my dream at 15 was to become a forensic pathologist and move to California where I would live in a house by myself, or with my best friend at the time, and live a lavish lifestyle. None of those things happened… my best friend went to medical school. I graduated highschool early, partied until I absolutely burned myself out, started college, met and totally unexpectedly fell in love with Jtom. And then everything else just happened. Nine years later we are married and have two children. Nine years of blessings and growing together.
Blessings abound all around our family; we have been talking more and more about those blessings to Lexie. When she is refusing to eat her favorite food, simply because she is being defiant not because she isn’t hungry, I explain that not every girl and boy get lunch every day. Or even food every day. The same goes for braiding her hair- not every girl has a mama to braid her hair, or give her a warm, clean bath. Those seem like silly examples, but she understands them. She’s 2.5 but she knows there is a world outside our four walls, and that some of that world isn’t as nice as hers. She will smile and say, “Jesus gave me a mommy and daddy and max and lunch!” *warm tingly feeling* (insert an edit: we went to the library this morning for story time. She told a mom there that “Jesus gave me a beautiful daddy.” The mom responded with, that’s right. Not every girl and boy have a daddy. You are so blessed.”)
Then there are moments when I feel completely overwhelmed, asking myself what am I doing?! How am I supposed to fit God, meals, play, learning, cleaning, and serving my husband- joyfully- all in 24 short hours? 7 of which need to be filled with sleep, so that I am able to serve my family. This morning I was in the pantry deciding which lunch bag to take on our picnic play date with J.Tom this afternoon. As a million plastic cups fell out of the lunch bag I’d chosen, I took a deep breath and looked around. I was standing in a pantry the size of a bathroom, filled to the brim with food for our family and craft supplies for Lexie. I’m not sure what we have done to deserve the blessings we have been given. We have a home big enough for the family we hope to continue growing. It’s warm in the winter and (hopefully) cool in the summer. You can’t feel the cold air blowing from the cracks in the doors and windows. The floors are safe and comfortable for the babies to play on. We have clean, running water, toilets that work (hallelujah!), and silent pipes! (meaning no clanging and banging in the walls that wakes up sleeping babes! We can flush the toilet after 7pm woo hoo)
Our old home wasn’t bad, it was a blessing as well; just a blessing that needed many hours and dollars worth of fixing up. We now live in a neighborhood with other young families. Our home is one street from the disc hockey park and community pool (which is more like a mini water park) so there are many places to run and play during these beautiful warm days. The people in Nebraska- beyond kind. I’ve not met one rude person, everyone waves and stops to talk. Blessings. They seem simple, but at the end of the day that went all too quickly, when my clothes are stained with spit up, and my hair is falling out of it’s messy pony tail, this is what it’s about. It’s not about excess. It isn’t about more than we need (though we do have more than we need in many ways). It isn’t about which group of friends you are a part of, or how many vacations you go on a year. It’s about how we spend our days, day in and day out, with each other. It’s about our kind words, soft smiles, and oh. em. gee. the hugs and kisses. It’s about Max finally learning to fall onto his booty from standing up or almost saying “mama,” but it comes out “na-na.” It’s about Lexie learning to write an M on her paper, reciting Bible stories to her brother, and showing him the “Moses’s river” she made at the park.
Today, like I mentioned, we met JTom at the park for lunch. He ate with us, played with Lexie and then headed back to work. We hung around for an hour longer; Lexie played with a little girl. Her mama was with her, and being followed by a court appointed supervisor. The supervisor was wearing a badge, and mama wasn’t wearing much of anything. Much to my first impression-ed surprise, she was amazing with the kids. She was down in the sand, building a mote and castle with them (which encouraged me to do the same). She had Lexie and her daughter sharing toys, helping each other. I probably seemed like a terrible mom, because I just sorta sat back in awe. This woman, in her skinny jeans and barely there top that matched her platinum blonde hair, seemed educated, funny, and in general like a good mom (not that any of those things would make her a bad mom-don’t misunderstand me. I was thrown off mostly by the supervisor needing to be there). She invited us to play with them and their chalk, she made pictures with the girls, and even started acting out Lexie’s favorite story on the playground bridge- The Three Billy Goats Gruff… I’m not sure where her life has been or where it is going, but today from 12:00-12:45pm I am pretty sure it was meant to cross paths with ours. On a day when Lexie and I were both feeling a little lonely, wanting a friend to play with at the park (Dayla and Ryker- we miss you!), she and her girl were a blessing. Looking back, I am not sure I had quite the same impact on her as she did on me. But I do pray that whatever her situation is, she can find more joy in park play dates with Kera, than she does in whatever got her supervised visitations.
We have had a beautiful, fun day today. I cannot wait to see what other blessings are in store for our family in the days to come. The great thing about blessings, you can’t just sit back and wait for them; you have to put yourself out there, serve others, and get uncomfortable sometimes. This introvert has learned a lot about that in the last 2.5 years. (I know this post was rambly. I warned you in the title!)
How have you been unexpectedly blessed this week?