The crickets’ evening lullaby floats in the open window, and cicadas join in the song. My baby sighs from her crib as I slide in between the white sheets next to my husband. He had a long day, and has an early morning again tomorrow. It’s a week for squeezing, working every possible hour before taking next week off.
Life is like that- hard one day, easy the next.
Today my nine-year-old forgot his claims of hating school and was sucked into the fascination of the digestive system. We colored and cut out strangely shaped organs and taped them all together, discussing the role each segment plays.
“The stomach here, the small intestine there…”
Even handwriting later was done with a carefulness I’ve not seen in a while. I leaned over the counter, intentionally making a big deal of it. “Look at that perfect line, Alannah! When you get as big as Weston, I bet you will write that neatly!”
His eyes gleamed and he shrugged, “It almost makes me feel proud…”
It’s the kind of pride that we can handle more of around here.
Life is a lot harder than I expected.
I expected to find teaching easy, mothering natural, and the house to more or less be easy to keep clean. As a diehard optimist, it’s been a salty pill to take, this thing of life being hard. I want to be an endless source of creativity, to always feel willingly the response the moment needs. But I’m just not that perfect mom I always dreamed I would be.
Actually, I’m terrible at a LOT of things.
Take menu-planning for example. I love to shop for things at great prices (or better yet, to score a bunch of produce for absolutely free! (thanks to a local produce warehouse who is generous with their slightly over ripe merchandise), but having a week’s meals laid out? It’s on my to-do list nearly every week, and there it laughs and mocks me, that job that looks so big. Throw a few diet restrictions into it and I’m ready to call a week of fasting.
Did you know it takes a matter of three and a half minutes for the kitchen floor to recover from being mopped? Little fingers spill bowls of wet cheerios and the baby toddles through and pulls a box of crackers out the cabinet, bottom side up. Cracker crumbs and sticky cheese powder scatter before I can blink.
The large picture window in the front room remains smudge-free for about ten minutes, noses press hard and fingers wet with slobber point out a butterfly, leaving a jagged smear right on eye level where I look from the couch.
I have books carefully arranged on the living room book shelf, color coded. I know, it drives my mother insane. “How will you ever find the book you were looking for?” she asks, but I remember the color of the spine, not always the title. And somehow the groups of color all together look happy to me. But the blue shelf is right on baby’s level, and we have this never ending duel. I glance at it as I pass in the morning see the books all even with the front of the shelf. But sometime during the morning, without fail, I find the books all shoved way back against the wall.
Every. Single. Day.
Every. Single. Day.
At first it annoyed me to no end.
Why? Just WHY does she do that?!?
Then I thought about how much fun she must be having, smashing the entire row of books six inches back. And I realized it was a game.
I make a move, then she does.
Currently, she is one up.
Clutter wears on me. But relationships are what matters most, and I mess up big.
I look in the mirror as I brush my teeth, and instead of a mom of four kids who is homeschooling and running a house and raising four munchkins,
I see a little girl who doesn’t know how to do this.
“I know how to be brought low.”
I pull the sheets up and the words whisper into my mind,
“and I know how to abound.”
Waves crash in, and wash out again.
We breathe in, and out.
The sun comes up, and eventually, slides beyond the horizon.
In the giving and the taking, He is here.
On the good days, and on the bad. Present.
“In any and every circumstance,
I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
A friend of mine was having a hard day this last week, still grappling with her brother unexpected death last year.
Grief is odd like that.
Some days you think you are starting to be normal again, starting to be able to breathe again, and the next you hardly can force yourself out of bed.
“You’ve got this,” I told her. “Not because you are strong (you are)
but because of Who is holding you.”
It’s not in who we are.
Our ability to face today with courage, with the failures of yesterday and the uncertainties of tomorrow, rest not in our ability.
In fact, it has very little to do with me,
and everything to do with Who is holding my hand.
Here in my broken moments, with the child’s left over toothpaste spit just inside the sink bowl, I find cleansing.
I wash the toothpaste foam down.
I breathe deeper.
Not because I am clean and perfect, but because it is here that He washes me.
It is here, in my need, that He touches me.