Monday, April 27, 2015

It's my Monday and I'll cry if I want to

I hate Mondays.

Really, I do.  Everyone leaves me on Monday and the house is so quiet and the toys are so neat and orderly and my only conversation comes from a two-year-old who might be saying "I love you," but is probably saying "I went poo" and I will never know the difference.  Until he comes closer, that is.

On Mondays all of the fighting that plagued me throughout the weekend is glaringly absent and the house suddenly seems too big and too empty.  On Mondays Benjamin does and says cute things, but there's no one to share it with, and I'm reminded of trees falling in a forest with no one to hear.  I try to remember these cute happenings, for dinnertime conversation, but my mind doesn't hold new information for more than a half hour these days.  And there are a lot of half hours before the end of a Monday.

Beautiful Mondays help a bit.  Warm breezes and sunshine make them slightly more bearable.  Also coffee with friends.  But eventually we have to leave.  Usually because our toddlers are beelining for the door and begging to go home.  They don't seem to understand that Mondays are much too depressing to face alone.

On Mondays nap time is non-negotiable.  I will drive in circles if I have to.  But on Mondays, Benjamin must nap.  So I place him gently in bed and tiptoe down the stairs, and then I remember that the only thing worse than having a toddler running around your house on Monday is not having a toddler running around your house on Monday.

And so on Mondays I eat lunch alone, surrounded by four empty chairs.  And although I daydreamed of this moment all weekend, my food never tastes as good when I don't have to get up for drinks and seconds and the right color forks before I even take a bite.

The laundry is piled extra high on Mondays.  But also, on Mondays, laundry is much too sad an activity.  General tidying is all I can muster, and I'm lucky to get that far.

Somehow it is also sad when the toddler wakes up on a Monday.  A general unease hangs over the rest of our day, and it doesn't lift until the school is in sight.  Until we swing open those heavy, glass doors and watch as messy lines of children skip before us.  Until the quiet of our day is filled with excited chatter and warm hugs and immediate requests for snacks.

And by the time we pull in the driveway I am pulling out my hair while the boys literally pull out each other's hair and I'm barely able to make dinner with all of the kids needing all of the things.  And somehow it's all right.

And even though Monday's not technically over, I know it's over.  Because I might be starting to hyperventilate, but I'm also finally able to breathe.

Empty houses are sad.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Like sun on the water

Let's be honest.  I'm just not your look-on-the-bright-side kind of gal.  Never have been.  Never will be.

Any whining that pours from the mouths of my boys I deserve back ten-fold from my, uh, less-than-perky childhood.

And, as we already know, I can imagine the worst possible outcomes in any and every situation.  My mind naturally leans towards what could go wrong before I ever consider what could go right.  I mean, eventually I consider and weigh these good things, but rarely before I've seriously examined the bad.

But, whatever.  The world needs us look-on-the-realistic-side types too.

And so at the beginning of the week I would have told you I wanted nothing more than to lie all by myself in bed with a good book and no children demanding anything of me.

Only the next day, when all my dreams came true and I laid by myself shivering in bed, with a good book beside me on the nightstand, all I could think about was how badly I wanted to feel well.  How much I wanted to get dressed and skip out into the beautiful sunshine with my gorgeous boys.  How I longed to jump with them on the trampoline and take walks to the frog pond and how I hated, hated being left behind.

But as the days went on like this, I kept finding myself taking these small breaks from self-pity and general misery to experience what, I suppose, can only be described as gratefulness.  I know, I'm as surprised as you are.

These moments crept up on me like the tide, little by little, gaining a bit more ground every time they washed over me.

The first day of my sickness I dropped the boys off outside of the school.  They usually hate this, but they could tell mommy wasn't messing around, so they kissed me good-bye and walked the ten steps into the building with very minimal dramatics.  Later that day a friend messaged and told me she saw Aiden taking Finn to his class, how he said good-bye and kissed him gently on the head, and my heart nearly melted into a puddle on the floor.  And gratefulness washed over me.

The same friend offered to bring the boys home, another to watch Benjamin, and still more to drive and pick up the boys every day for the rest of the week.  And I realized that somehow, in our last four years here, people have come to truly care for us, and us for them.  And gratefulness washed over me.

Every day after work Joel rushed home and scooped up the boys.  Benjamin would bounce from the house with shouts of glee after way too much TV and not nearly enough sunshine.  They would be gone all evening and the next morning, after Joel left, Benjamin would ask, over and over, "Dada doe?"  And gratefulness washed over me.

After a short trip Joel's parents returned and completely took over.  Benjamin got to go on walks and play outside, the dishes and laundry were done, meals were cooked, diapers were changed, and I was left with nothing to do but rest and recover.  And gratefulness washed over me.

As I laid in bed, too tired to read, and too uncomfortable to sleep, the sounds of tiny, joyful voices drifted through the crack in my bedroom window.  And I smiled because those tiny voices were mine.  Those uninhibited, squeaky little voices were mine.  And, in that moment, gratefulness washed over me.

Perhaps my healthy days are filled with so much good that I can't even notice it.  Perhaps I walk around in a fog of goodness that I am constantly forgetting to be grateful for.  But on my sick days and my tired days and my begrudgingly slowed down days, I notice these moments in complete clarity.

And when I'm really seeing clearly, these moments are like sun sparkling on the water.  If I'm still enough, I can feel the gratefulness washing over me.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Like a child

Easter 2012


"Thank you for Aiden and Finn, who are the best family in the whole world, and for Daddy, who loves us all so much.  And thank you for Easter..."

"Stop Mommy!  I want to say that part."

"Okay buddy, go ahead."

"Thank you for Easter and for dying when you were so sad, and thank you for coming to life, and for Easter."

It's something, really.  The way a child can simplify the most profound mysteries.  And how one short sentence breathed in complete sincerity can hold more impact than a book full of carefully researched theology. 

Not that he is without questions.  In fact I've spent many a long and drawn-out bedtime answering such inquiries...

"Do angels fly?", "When Jesus comes back to live here, will he come to our house and play video games?", and my personal favorite,  "Does Jesus eat dinner in my heart?  Yes or no?  Just tell me.  Yes or no?"

Sometimes I think he doesn't understand at all.  To be honest, sometimes I wonder if I understand at all.  The more questions he asks the more I think, "I have no idea."

But then he pulls out something like this.  Words both simple and profound.  He so easily suspends his questioning for belief.  And for thankfulness.

I am grateful today for this faith.  A faith so complex brilliant theologians can't fully grasp it.  And yet so simple even a small child can understand.  

Happy Easter weekend to all who celebrate!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

To my baby, on his second birthday

Dearest Benjamin,

When you were just born I remember waking to your small sounds, in the dark of our hospital room.  Your brothers and dad were at home, so it was only us two.  

You were hungry, I'm sure.  But I propped you up on my bent legs and took a minute to stare at you.  Your eyes were wide open for perhaps the first time, and I can remember how incredibly dark they were.  How you stared at me with those nearly black eyes and it felt like they were looking through me.  It felt like you knew something, and you were trying to tell me with those gorgeous, wide eyes.  Like you understood something sacred.  Something holy.  And you were trying to tell me.

I soaked up those newborn days.  I stared at you and I covered you in kisses and I wondered all the time what it was like for you.  To not be in the world and then to be in the world.  To know nothing of light and then to know light.  To know nothing of cold and then to know cold.  To know nothing of us, and then to know us.  

You were a wonder to me.  And I felt with you how I thought I was supposed to feel the first time.  And even the second.  I felt the amazement and the beauty and I treasured nearly every second.  I loved your brothers just as much, but I was scared then.  I was terrified by those precious lives and my deep responsibility to them.

But this time I knew in my bones that there was no holding on to those newborn days.  That they would be here and gone in a second.  And I was right.  They were.

But as is the way with children, each age brought a new wonder of it's own.  The first hiccups of laughter, the first time you slurred our names, as though your mouth was stuffed with cotton, the first wobbly steps.

And before I knew it I opened my eyes and looked at the person of you.  You, with your wide smile and contagious laugh and your insistence that life is for running like crazy or standing unmovable as stone, but never anything in between.  Never steady, obliging walking.  

You're a free spirit, in the truest sense of the word.  When you hear dogs barking from behind their iron gates you run to them, as though an old friend is calling you.  And they seem, mostly, to trust you.  You will never be told which way to go, and it is faster to lap an entire block in the direction you want to go than to turn back ten steps in a direction you don't.  

This morning Finn said, "Since it's Benji's birthday, let's let him do what he wants, when he wants."

And I couldn't help but ask, "How is that different from any other day?"

The other day you weren't listening, as per usual, and I started counting.


"Two!  Free!" you gladly chimed in.

And I laughed and moved on because what else am I going to do?

With the other boys I felt very protective of their safety.  Perhaps of their good behavior.  But with you, I feel intensely protective of your spirit.  Your carefree, wild spirit, which I know can't last forever, but I'm hoping will continue a good while longer.  And later, when you have to be reigned in a bit, I can only pray that a bit of that spark will keep burning, and that, maybe in your adulthood, it will be fanned into full, blazing flame.  

I think you're going to do something with that flame.  And I'll do everything in my power to see it doesn't get snuffed out.  

And to think I was afraid, when I learned we were having another boy, that you wouldn't be special.  I knew you'd be special to us, of course.  But I didn't, in a million years, expect this kind of special.  

You've given us two, amazing years.  And I'm storing up these moments in my heart because I know they'll be gone before I can blink.  Even as hard as I try to quit blinking.  

Happy second birthday my sweet boy.