(Smiles From Baby and A Date With My Son)
It really has been almost two months since I last blogged. I admit disappointment in that because I had made it a goal to blog at least once a month. Considering the fact that I have five kids, ages 9 and under and that the youngest is 2.5 months old, well, I choose to give myself some slack (or is it more aptly stated as accept more grace).
You see my life is far from perfect, my husband is far from perfect, my kids are far from perfect, and yes, I am far from perfect — perhaps farther than a lot of you. 🙂 As much as I want to hurry my growing process along, I recognize that it all takes time. A wise produce grower knows this. He also knows when to prune, how to prune, and that pruning takes repetition. It’s not a once-done deal. I am like that. I need repeated “prunings,” and I have a Master Gardener who knows just how to do that the very best way for my own personal growth.
My life is far from perfect, but it is full of grace. Even when I don’t acknowledge or recognize the grace, it surrounds me every day and in so many ways — from the coos of a baby, to the warmth of my house on a cold January day, to the happiness on my daughter’s face as I make snow-castles with her, to the laughter shared with a son as we make silly faces together in a mirror, to the happiness of playing Checkers with another son… My day is full of so many demonstrations of grace. Sometimes, grace is also displayed when life isn’t all smiles, coos, and happiness. Sometimes, it’s found when my daughter publicly humiliates me or a son tells my husband and I we need to go on a date so we have better attitudes. (Those things really did happen: the good and the bad.)
So, here’s a look into my imperfect life that is “perfect” for me — being where God wants me to be and surrounded by His perfect love:
December arrived with cold germs spreading throughout our family. I spent less than 1/2 an hour outside on a wet and snowy Saturday, decorating for Christmas and wound up with a sinus infection and bronchitis. After battling almost a week’s worth of a fever, asthma, and a nasty cough for weeks afterwards, I finally improved. (My lungs are still healing from my sickness.)
Stomach bug germs replaced the cold germs right before Christmas. Being sick a week before Christmas meant my husband and I stayed up into the wee hours of the morn the week of Christmas, wrapping presents. We made it fun by watching Christmas movies, sipping Sparkling Blueberry juice, and eating chocolate while wrapping presents.
We then spent the next week entertaining and being entertained by company for the holidays. It was a busy but fun-filled time!
I disliked removing our Christmas decorations but finally admitted it was time when our tree had piles of needles beneath bare branches and was turning brown. Nostalgia brought tears to my eyes, and I told my husband that I am going to really miss the sight of small coats hanging in our foyer in another decade. I lovingly gave one more glance to my children’s handmade ornaments before stowing them away in the attic. (Those ornaments have become some of my most-prized collections!)
January arrived blistery and with more snow days. I have learned snow days mean extra work for me but many happy moments too. I love to watch my kids playing in the snow! I may enjoy staying inside in the warmth these days, but I am willing to stretch myself in order to bring happiness to a child.
This month, I have been enjoying having my turn at taking each of the kids individually on a “date” with Momma. My kids love the undivided attention, and I love the opportunity to be undistracted and relaxed with my kids! There are so many demands on a mother’s time and attention that it is challenging to find and make the time to get much one-on-one time with each child. So far, I have gone on a date with each of my two oldest sons. We have gone to the restaurant of their choice, bought a small keepsake, talked, laughed, and just enjoyed the fun times together. During our talks, I was able to ask the boys all kinds of great questions. It was a neat time to get to know them better and find out their goals, desires, sorrows, fears, frustrations, and joys!
These have been a busy past two months. The first month with our newborn I spent more closely at home and put a lot of things on hold. As January approached, I decided it was time to get caught up on insurance shopping (getting new quotes for auto, home, and life and making the changes). I was also finally able to get some of our health insurance issues resolved. My husband also began to work longer hours at the office. The added stress of caring for five children by myself, ill health, long hours at work for my husband was indeed lending itself to stress that could either make or break our marriage. As my son noticed, we were starting to give in to wrong attitudes, and it was time to make necessary changes to halt the negativity. (I guess our son had noticed our temperaments improve when we are able to get some couple time.)
Last Sunday was also one of those times when grace can become very evident even in the midst of unpleasant circumstances. I had left our baby and 2.5 year old with my husband while I finally found a minute to attend to personal needs. 🙂 When I returned to reclaim the baby, my husband informed me that I would also need to get our 2.5 year old, who was standing in front of the congregation, pretending to sing. My husband was occupied at the time since he has responsibilities in the sound room. To my discomfiture, I had to approach the front of the auditorium and reclaim our daughter.
As I approached her, I realized this was going to be even more embarrassing. It was obvious this was going to be one of those occasions when our daughter was going to test her limits and the limits of our patience and pride. As I motioned for her to come to me, she ran the other way. Her escape route took her straight up the stairs and onto the platform. I was in a conundrum. I wasn’t going to chase her across the platform, but neither could I leave her there. I quietly approached the stairs from the side and motioned to her again to come, displaying my stern “Mommy means business” face. With a toss of her blond curls, she ran the opposite way, down the stairs on the opposite side of the platform. What now? My daughter was not going to obey, and I could not leave her to her own devices. Somehow, I had to get ahold of her, but do it in such a way as to diminish the distraction for our audience. It was at this point that my husband saved the day. Before I could take a second look, he had quickly marched down the middle aisle, swept in and grabbed our daughter up in his arm while holding our baby in the other arm, and just as quickly exited the auditorium with a sobered daughter in tow. (She was much more serious about obeying after that.)
May I share that watching my husband determinedly take his daughter in order and rescue an otherwise distressing situation was one of the most “romantic” things he could have done. Romantic? Yes! I was so appreciative and admiring of his taking leadership and responsibility in protecting and guiding his family where needed. My husband is a kind and patient man. He normally speaks calm words. When he speaks with firmness, we respect and take notice.
Afterwards, grace was even more evident when a number of people approached us and kindly shared their own stories of how their children had done the same thing or similar. Their humility and compassion were greatly appreciated. I had been humbled by it all — parenting has a way of doing that to us on a regular basis — but their graciousness had comforted me. Oh, and my husband and I have decided we need to play some “obedience” training games with our daughter.
Life goes on… Lessons are learned, and hopefully new growth is occurring on a regular basis. In the midst of it all, may I cherish not just those precious times, spent like today (making snow-castles with my daughter), but also those times when I am given the opportunity to humbly extend forgiveness and grace to my children when they exert their own wills and sometimes do the opposite of what we desire for them. God is so quick to forgive me! May I be just as quick in forgiving my children who have “wronged” me far less!