In the course of 24 hours the thoughts that run through my head are not anywhere near always lovely.
Yet these types of things happen all around me:
Josie’s big open mouth in the morning ready to babble, kiss and smile and giggle cough with those white baby teeth…da da, maaaa maa
Gracie, leaning over, no matter what else is going on, with her dark and honey curls blowing in the wind across her forehead, picking dandelions – because to her, they are the cream of the crop and every window of time is a good opportunity to stop and pick the flowers…
Quinn, his determination and will to be all that he is. Standing there on the bathroom rug, wrapped in our oversized bath towel, his thick eyelashes heavy and dark from water … looking up at me saying with not a hint of doubt, “I’m a superhero…because I never, ever get scared. Because I’m a superhero.” Me: “Yes, buddy, you are brave!” Q: “Mime am” …
Harper, her skinned up and bruised legs with her porcelain face, arms raised up to be carried because she just gets shy. Her heart pours out peacemaking…”Here Gracie, you can wear this dress” (the one I chose and have had on an hour) or “Here, Quinn, you can have my snack.” …
Something about watching Gracie & Harper watching Frozen together, girly giggles secret from the world, leaning their bodies into each other so pigtails and ringlets touch… do you wanna build a snowman…
My only son. Dancing with a girl at a wedding. He may only be 3. She was only 5. I didn’t approve…I may never. Sigh.
Pigeon toes with tiny awkward steps… chubby avocado smudged fingers wrapped around our fingers as she sees the world from a whole new view…. not a dark cloud in her blue sky. Watching what it truly means to fall and get back up. Human spirit forming right in front of us. The pure joy of having a real life baby in our home.
The pride in his face that is new since he became a Daddy. The phone calls at 8:34 am to make sure I’m OK. The way he throws her up…ONE MORE TIME, every time. How he rushes in her room when the baby cries. The way he teaches him and the secrets I’ll never know from the boy car rides. The way he makes her laugh. Truly thankful my stomach, nine years later, still jumps when he calls me.
Kissing puffy jellyfish cheeks until they turn white.
Watching Gracie practice her knowledge of holidays…(coming into my bedroom this morning on Mother’s Day…carrying a card for me, no envelope, huge smile of bashful pride on her face) “Here’s a card for you mommy… it says, ‘Dear Mommy’ … Today is your day you were born. Because it’s God’s birthday. And he was a baby. A little bitty cute baby like Josie.” (The lovely pink card reads “Happy Valentines Day Granddaughter” …I’ve never loved the thought of a card so much in my life.)
Quinn, putting on his shoes, “I got rid of my baby toe. Because I’m a big boy now. When I keep getting bigger and bigger, I’ll drink ‘beard’ like Daddy and go to work. And drive a van. ”
All the kids are outside and I’m in nursing Josie. Harper roaming in at her leisure, walking with her head in the clouds and her feet just waiting to trip and add more scabs to those speckled knees. She’s in her Cinderella gown and she’s singing “Following the leader, the leader, following the leader” … (and again.) When she sees me watching her, a crooked smile.
Sleepy blue eyes after a nap. Baby koala hugs with a tight grip. And yes, even those middle of the night nursing sessions. The quiet of the house and the pure and mindless connection of mother and baby. When so, so much else takes all of my mind, this just is.
Walking the unfinished floors of our new home at sunset with just Scott. No lights are installed, so the house seems extra quiet and dim, one of the last times I bet it feels this way. Drinking a glass of wine out of a plastic cup…imagining what is to come within these walls and laughing at some of the “design mistakes” we have made as a team…
The list could go on. And the list could certainly take a path of not so lovely. I boil everyday and yell and act ugly and then wonder why my unrested and overplayed three-year olds ever would yell at me.
All I wanted was to be a mommy. And now it seems like all I know is how to be a mommy. Giving and giving, not much taking. And when Mother’s Day comes we almost expect it to, POOF, give us some of that energy or life back. I know when I am spent (everyday) I almost fall into victim mode of “why me” or “seriously, God?”
Just like the annoying advice to forgive someone for yourself, I think I have to stop expecting anything.
God tells us clearly to focus on what is lovely…
Not on a clean house that isn’t real. Or on a perfectly planned Mother’s Day weekend. Or even to think about the life you thought you would have had. Or dream of when it may be easier.
Today, on Mother’s Day, I’m gifting myself this intention.
…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Phil 4:8)
I sure would miss a lot if I didn’t sometimes. The crap will always be there, but sometimes I just can’t think about it another second. Kids whine. Three year olds poop their underwear at the park. Babies blow out diapers. Teeth need brushed…like twice a day x 4 … Every inch of skin x 4 needs sunscreen. Every inch of at least one child fights it. Bladders magically fill up at the end of the drive out of our neighborhood. Daughters leave the house refusing underwear (in a dress). They come into your bedroom at 2 am totally naked and acting as if it’s totally normal to crawl in bed and ask for a snack. They usually don’t sleep through the night. They fight over a piece of fuzz because “it’s not fair. That’s MINE.” They take 2.5 hours to get out the door, and that’s just out the door to the garage. They crawl so fast you turn your head and in one blink they are at the top of the stairs eating quarters. They suck it out of you and then you sit on the floor and just stare. Four kids talk non stop while you drive down the road and you wonder if you can keep your eyes open to feed, bathe and get everybody up the stairs. Trying to plan an escape route for coffee…or better yet, thinking about a glass of something red and delicious…that you probably won’t even drink because now it’s 8:30 and you’re ready for bed.
These are all thoughts and they are part of the gig, but it sucks me dry. So today I have to think on something else.
My gift to myself, on this day for the mother…(wow, how far we have come)
is to think on the lovely.
I’ll fail, but that’s why we call it an intention.
PS, Scott has all four kids in the van with him right now. I don’t even know if they have a destination. This is the FIRST time in almost 12 months I’ve been alone in this house. Let me tell you, this is lovely.