Today the boys were playing in the backyard together, rag tag & muddied band of stick-wielding brothers huddled around a makeshift fort, while I built quesadillas out of leftover meat and bit and blocks of cheese that called for a final hoorah.
One. Two. Three. I lay their plates out. No chips on Alistair or Emerick’s plates or else mutiny / mayhem, take your pick— and almost all our plates are chipped at this point. Our counter stretches a length to hold each boy right there with me standing on the other side, for filling water and wiping messes. I smile at how repetition beats onward in the ordinary moments over and over in my days like a towel folding onto itself for eternity. Gentle. Disappearing. Quiet. Good. Glasses full. Plates of food. Forks set.
I call them in: Door slides open. “Lunch is ready!” Sweet toddler feet come running and arms pump in excitement because boys. love. food. And my boys eat a ton of it.
I felt a nudge this morning to lean in with just a bit of joy when they are eating because that’s, oddly enough, the most difficult part of parenting clawing at me at the moment. And I do love, in theory and in the prep and the post of it all to feed the boys. It’s just the little nuances of tacos split open and messy hands and toddlers not comprehending that food things can break accidentally and yet still be edible. And whether or not I’ll succeed in turning on its head the one little trouble of my day is yet to be determined…
But I do want to do a better job of acknowledging all the good in my particular season. It’s so easy for me to feel burdened by all there is to do, to always be stretching my arms out as far as I can, and to have mommy guilt for things Thomas has not yet learned and for words the twins have not yet spoken.
I feel so grateful today. I have three healthy boys, a home, and a husband who loves me and works tirelessly for our family. I have time with my boys at home round the clock and while that is a broad spectrum and mixed bag ranging from tedious to tremendously fun, it is namely and simply good to be with them so very much.
The twins are actually talking more. April was the biggest growth in Alistair’s speech ever. Figures. Last month I waved my white flag, cried a bit (READ: sobbed ugly shaking tears) over the phone to a good friend that their delay in speech has been heartbreaking, maddening, and humiliating—and after pouring myself out like that I turned my back on my longstanding practice of sitting for hours a day encouraging speech through song, play, reading, etc., etc. etc. and …. effectively tore through my house for a month painting, decluttering, purging, organizing, and praying that a break from being “just mom” would heal me and help me return whole-heartedly to the good work of making the boys civilized creatures once again.
God is always with us and isn’t that wonderful! He is with us when we are rushing and when we are waiting and when we are angry and when we are at a loss. He’s with me today, happy in my happiness to fold back into the gentle, quiet work of stay-at-home motherhood.
Yes. I feel grateful today. And I know that it’s not because the dust in our lives is permanently settled or that the wrinkles in our stories have been ironed out—forever. It’s because I feel a little zen about it all. There’s always difficult just as there’s always good. I want to see the difficult for what it is so that I can take it on effectively, but I don’t want my zest in tackling it to overshadow the good at our feet. And with the spirit of St. Thérèse, today I just feel like bending down, getting small, and pulling together a bouquet of all my good.
How do we love the season we are in? I think the answer is simply to be fully present in it. To let our thinking form our joy. To put a name on the difficulties (I am anxious right now. I am tired right now. I am growing right now. —Just examples) but to laugh and to walk light and be present in all of it, a quiet rebellion of hope by way of the rope thrown out for us in the redeeming power of Christ, regardless of how much we are not enough—maybe even particularly because we are granted opportunities to see and feel deeply that very truth that we are honestly not. enough.
Alistair & Emerick tumbled over my lap over and over a hundred times two days ago as Thomas giggled and did his best to finish his schoolwork as we all sat together on the office floor. I pointed at his work and led him through while Emerick climbed on his back and whispered in his ear. We were a tangled web and it felt like such a labor and a strain and yet a happy mess all at once. My heart lifted happy and pierced sad in this one distinct moment where I realized one day I will be in my forties and my boys will have far outgrown my lap and maybe, probably even much more than I can even grasp right now in this season of quick succession diapers and worrying over who is in the bathroom running the water. I don’t want to long for any more at any season that to be fully engaged in where I’m at. I know that doesn’t wipe out sweet memories, later on, of babes nursing in the dark or days when all my children where housed under one roof…
But I do think that in saying I will find joy today. I will gather good in this season of (motherhood / fill-in-the-blank)—every day, every hour… I do think it makes us return our gaze to our feet (over and over again—because honestly we forget this and run ahead and then come back to it). This declaration of making and find good makes us get creative. It helps us to search a little bit more, to lay claim to gratitude, to remember to rest in all the beauty.
So that is where my heart is at—a student of being present so as to be grateful, to do the work that needs to be done, and to gather the good at my feet.
I’m human just like you. I have high aspirations of rising strong to the needs of the day, of the week, of the month and of the year. Sometimes I sprint on out ahead & I can feel the sun on my face of all my accomplishments or in howwell things are going. And sometimes I crash after sickness or months spent tag teaming medical visits. I rise, I rise, I rise, and then sometimes I deflate, a little worn out with all there is to do and be. We all do. This is the ebb and flow. And I’m finally, humbly, and a bit worn-out but happily okay with that.
But I want to return always to this home, this space at the core of things that life is simply about little beautiful moments strung together and that each moment is all we have and, mostly, all we need to concern ourselves with. We can walk light in this huge thing of life because we must just get through dinner and then we must just enjoy the soccer game and then we must just smile when the kids want one more story for their bedtime.
To be fully present. This is what I’m opening my hands, my heart, and my mind for. Bring on the difficult. Bring on the beauty. Bring on the mundane and the sacrifice and the long days and the bite of chocolate and the sunrise over the neighbor’s roof.
I don’t have much to give.
But I will stand fully and whole-heartedly in this moment. And then one more. . .