(I hired a cleaning lady, actually an adorable couple, and I fired them. Because I don't need a cleaning couple. My house is just as clean without them. I clean naturally. I really loved them, but would rather spend my money elsewhere. The hardest part about firing then was feeling like I "deserved" them. Silly.)
My sweetest baby Ben sat and watched me clean. He started to fuss by bathroom three so I cooed and smiled and sang to him as I scrubbed and rinsed. He adores me. He smiled and kicked and gooed right back.
I could tell he was ready for his morning nap, so I changed his diaper.
(Insert random gripe- I have had 8 children in diapers and I have always bought Huggies. I like them and sometimes I feel dumb for buying name brand potty holders. Once again, at BJs, I decided to try their generic Generation X, or something like that, diapers. They were "good for the environment" and almost half the price of Huggies. I HATE THEM. They stink. They leak. They LEAK!!!!!!!! I have to change his whole outfit and sheets every morning. Did they count an extra load of laundry a day when they said, "good for the environment"? Back to Huggies for me- after I used up this stinkin' box of 256...)
Diaper changed, smiling and tired baby. I held him and just squeezed his thick little body. (This guy is thick, wide and short, and squishy. My girls have been long and squishy slender.) Ben's feet just barely reach my belt. His whole body fits on my shirt. He feels like a real, darling doll in my arms.
My big boys are taller than me. I steal their hoodies and their shoes are too big for me. When family folds my laundry, I find my jeans on my boys' shelf.
Someday, my baby-est of all babies will be big, bigger than me. He will be big for eternity and is only my baby for this moment. Today I get to hold him. Today Eve and I sang to him and danced with him. Today I squeezed him extra tight and thought that I always want to remember what this feels like. NOW. Holding my baby. He fits just right and I adore him- now.
Then, I laid him down knowing that he will wake up a little bit bigger.
Yesterday, I had moments with my bigger kids. Jakob baked blueberry muffins for his class today. Drew told me over and over his speech on Earnest Hemmingway who committed suicide after becoming an addict. Anna spent the evening singing and playing her clarinet and piano.
Ellie was cuddly and adorable. I spent time watching her do math- i say watching, not helping, because she is way faster at her multiplication facts than I am.
Leah sat by me as I read with Lily. Lily is just sounding out words and Leah was the best reading coach ever. Leah just learned to make her own paper airplanes. She is so proud! She spent all evening coloring paper gray so she could make another plane. She woke up early this morning to practice flying again!
Eve just came in to me again and holding her head high above her head asked for a "really big bath." I think this is becoming a tradition...
Yesterday, I was cutting up onions for dinner and Eve wanted to help. She grabbed some onion to eat and I warned her that they were yucky. With sassy confidence, she assured me, "No Mom, I yike dem. Deese is my fa-vo-wit."
I watched her crunch down on her big, pungent onion. She chewed for a few seconds and her eyes got wide. In one moment she knew her mother was right. She grabbed her neck and started coughing, looking at me with big eyes of concern she said coughing, "Help Mom! I'm vewy thirsty." Hahaha. I LOVE her! Right now.
The professor was justifiably upset this morning. Our kids were teasing each other (hiding their siblings shoes or lunches) and complaining that a sister copied her outfit by wearing a similar scarf. One child practiced her newfound reading ability and read Sam's New Red Bed, out loud to herself while we were reading, The Prodigal Son. One child repeatedly practiced flying her paper airplane around the room.
One child was concerned about getting to school late while another gently and methodically and SLOWLY packed a beautiful lunch, unloaded the dishwasher and assisted everyone around her. Resulting in a departure time, very regular, but ten minutes later than ideal.
As I felt the Professor wishing them better and bigger and older, I wished for him joy right now. Now in the imperfect, silly middle. Yes!!! Yes, I want my kids to be better during scripture time. I do! But, we have scripture time. And sometimes it is great. I reminded him that there will ALWAYS be something they can do better. ALWAYS.
Today they all got dressed and came to scripture time. They all knelt to pray, they all fixed their own lunches and were generally happy. They helped with the youngest kids. They are independent with piano and school and they want to be good. They are good- very imperfect, very unfinished, but good.
Tomorrow, when we have taught them not to tease, they will do something else that we will worry and pray over. I'm 36 and my mother still sees things in me that I need to improve.
If our goal is to have kids that are finished needing to learn something, we will never be happy. We have to learn to love them right here in the middle.
My bathroom cleaning friend has a feisty, smart son in 6th grade (maybe 7th). She went to his parent teacher conferences and heard 6 teachers tell her ways he needed to improve. His band teacher said he was the best trumpet player in his grade.
This wise mom told me that on the way home from conference she made a very conscious decision to only tell her son the positive.
She could see him hold his head higher as she told him how great his teacher thought he was. Can't you just see him running to practice his trumpet more? Not only that, but this third child's dad also played the trumpet. They practice together and the dad loves that his son plays with him. Hmm.
Can't you just FEEL why this boy is doing so well at the trumpet?!!! Finally, my friend's son comes home from school a few days later and announces that he is going to do better in ALL his classes. He has a plan to do better on his homework and to study more. I LOVE this!
We can do anything when we are loved.
Yes, I pray every single day that I will have wisdom to teach my kids how to be better.
(Trust me- I SEE exactly how I want them to act, I know where I fall short and where they fall short.)
But, I pray harder that I will have eyes to see who they ARE right NOW. I pray that I can love and adore them right here in their imperfect middle.
Oh to have each one of my children feel like they are really great at playing their individual trumpets even as they are still learning...
Ha! What a fun analogy- only one who has ever heard a beginning trumpet player can relate. It is humorously awful. Drew plays the trumpet. He started years ago and it was bad!! He tooted that thing night and later at night. If he wasn't tooting he was blowing raspberries. I laughed a lot and encouraged moderation. He won the best musician award in 6th grade.
Now, his younger sister is learning. She toots all night. She takes great pride in tooting out hymns from the hymn book and would rather toot her piano songs than play them. Her practicing drives Drew crazy!! He hates to hear her mistakes! He tries to teach her or complains that she is hurting his head. I can't help but laugh. Drew, I remind him daily, we loved you when you learned now love her. He honestly believes he was never as bad as she is.
Aren't we all like that?
Don't we all beg for mercy even as we are frustratingly trying to enforce the law someone else is breaking?
A wise friend once commented, "I always thought becoming like Christ meant being perfect like He is. Maybe the harder part is loving imperfect people like He does."
Love them NOW.
Love yourself NOW.
Remember, you are just learning how to play your trumpet too.
And, I talked to your teacher last night. Know what He told me? He said you were the very best trumpet player in your whole life. You are doing a great job!! We are so proud of you! Keep it up!!
Bite that onion and learn for yourself and know that someone who loves you still will be right there to give you a drink.
He is our perfect Father.
He loves His silly, imperfect children.
Life is beautiful.
This moment is fleeting and oh so good.