It's been a beautiful day with the kids. There are some days I wonder if they'll look back and think fondly of their time at home, but other days, I'm pretty sure they will.
We woke to the pattering of kiddie feet into our bed. Maelynn, then Ryan, and finally Richie all crammed in a mega-family-snuggle. It's those moments that upgrading to a king size bed from the queen that came with Eric feels a bit like a need.
We piled out of bed, kids playing and letting adults have a bit of coffee. The rest of the morning was full of the smell of french toast, sausage, eggs, and potatoes. After a long, nice brunch, we tooke the kids out to swim. The tree outside the fence welcomed us with a nice shade, so we were able to stay out for quite a while. While the kids were still hanging out in the pool with Daddy, I got out and used the time to dry as time to get some water on the garden, still in the shade as well.
Once dry, I went in the house, threw some grilled cheese on the griddle, and we had a nice lunch. After lunch, the littles had some play time while Ryan enjoyed some iPad. After a while, we decided we'd have a movie so we'd all be in the cool air of the house in the heat of the day.
While the kids watched the movie, I worked on the pie. And now, while it's in the oven, here I sit.
Sounds great, right? All those statements are true. Not one of them is a stretch or a lie, but let's take another view... or choose another perspective, just for the sake of reality.
Ryan came to bed with us after Mae crawled in around six. He stood there, looking at the alarm clock that I stubbornly refuse to unplug or at least set. Well, maybe I'm just too forgetful. Either way, there he stood, reading the time and stimming while I held the covers to let him snuggle. All I could think was, "Come on, dude. Just come on."
Hearing the play of the smaller ones, Eric and I finally rolled out a few minutes after they decided the snuggle was cute and all, but the moment was SO over.
From the time I uttered the words "french" and "toast" the kids were all hollering to eat. Ryan started to almost melt down over the idea of one of his favorite breakfast foods. In the flurry to get the kids' breakfast made, I didn't get our breakfast started until after they were eating. And I almost incinerated it. I didn't, but came close.
By the time we finished eating between jumping up for this and that for the kids, keeping Ryan for bossing Richie too much on the train tracks, and generally keeping the peace, it was nearly noon. Ryan has strong feelings about which train goes where, and although Richie adores his brother, it's starting to get hard to take when he's told that this train can't go there right now. It really hurts when Ryan yells at him and screams, "Richie will leave!!!"
We did finish eating, having fought to take our time, and decided it was time to get these kids outside. After thirty minutes of swimsuit locating, slathering with SPF 50, and all the squeezing into suits, pulling back of hair, and earplug inserting, we made it outside.
It was a pretty great run in the pool, but freckled with frustration. I had the audacity to get on Maelynn's coveted pirate ship and float around. Richie's blasted earplugs kept coming out, causing us to stop, get him out, dry his ear, get another plug placed, and get back in. Then there was the ever-popular beach umbrella to mommy's mouth. That's right, folks. Not a leaf moved until a gust big enough to uproot the beach umbrella and pop me right in the mouth.
Deciding I was pretty much done after that, I got to watering and pulling weeds. Other than the giant indiscretion our Australian shepherd committed so close to the garden that I couldn't hide from the smell, that went pretty well.
The kitchen was a disaster, but since the kids all like grilled cheese and the griddle was still out, lunch was easy. After the atrocity I ate for brunch not that long ago, I decided a piece of fruit and peeling, cutting, and coring apples was great to go with the family's lunch.
As the kids came in, Ryan had a random screaming, hitting fit (well, seemingly... Eric couldn't put his finger on any one reason). It wasn't his first of the day, and it wouldn't be his last. But such is life.
Once the chorus of whining ended, the kids sat and ate their food without a fight.
When they were through, I had the nerve to suggest ice cream instead of cookies to Ryan. Whoops. Another upset.
Deciding to watch the movie at last, Ryan did his usual outcry of "NO MOVIE!!!" When it wasn't his idea, or wasn't something he would have picked, that's what we get. The usual response is "You're welcome to go to your room or the kitchen, but this is what we want to do right now." The usual is what he received.
Now I sit here, typing with arms under the weight of 80-lb eight year old legs. The legs are quieter than the other end, though. Random shouts from the game he's playing... still playing... jolt me now and again. And I still have to find something for dinner. As I type, Ryan is repeating "hot pizza for dinner, Mom!" Yeah. No go there.
Any one day, either of these descriptions comes quicker than the other. To be honest, the second is the natural place my mind and heart run. Ugh. More yelling. Ugh. It's hot. Ugh. So many dishes.
Don't hit that little x yet.
Too much lean to either way, and too much truth is left in the dust. Over-optimism, insisting that we can do it, we just need to try harder or have more faith, or completely ignoring the not-so-good stuff isn't healthy. On the other hand, reporting only the things that we had a rough time with while leaving out all the good isn't the truth either.
These descriptions of the day are both truth. Both of them are accurate. Everything happened that I noted. It happened as close to reality as I could word. Both times. But today, my first description of our day is what I was feeling. It's been a pretty good day. There are other days that aren't so positive. There are days that all I would see is the screaming fits or the other hard things, seeing through grayer glasses than I do today.
I wish I could tell you that you can simply choose how to see it, but if I tell you that, then it means that maybe I have that ability. I do not.
I make mistakes... okay, mega, colossal, not-cool screw-ups... that warrant apology to my kids and my family. I react in a way that I'd hope no one every finds out about at times, with my voice too loud and words too harsh. And try as I might and will continue to try, I just can't always be joyful, happy, cheery Mom who doesn't mind that you just colored all over your new shirt with your marker. I don't always think it's adorable that Maelynn has covered her leg in marker, insisting that it's a cutie mark (thanks, My Little Pony). I certainly don't always react smoothly when Ryan screams out in the middle of quiet, just to make noise... but also scaring the DOG out of me.
Funny, for someone who believes that Christ covers her every sin and black mark, I have a hard time forgiving myself for these.
I wish I could say I was making some dramatic new resolve to forgive myself more and be less judgmental of everything, but that's nothing new. It's worth re-setting my mind on, as much as I can, but in reality it's not a one-time decision. It's an every day, every minute coming back when I fail and starting over thing.
It's a being grateful for the grace I'm receiving kind of thing.
It's feeling the relief of the grace and mercy of Christ, even though others may not have it to give, kind of thing.
It's realizing that we're human, and in our humanness, we're going to do stupid things. We're going to do things that we think are smart when they're really stupid!
So rather than wrestle which of the day-descriptor perspectives is best, I'm going to forgive myself for feeling hypocritical when I chose optimism today. And again, I'm going to fall back on the greater truth that I'm covered... and for the heart and eyes to see that truth.
And I'm going to do it all again tomorrow... no, in five minutes when I get up to make dinner with the boys chasing each other through the kitchen and Ryan hitting himself and screaming because he's fed up and doesn't know how to say it... with the courage that comes from knowing it's not a shock to God when I trip and fall, or when the beach umbrella hits me in the lip.
Thanks be to God for it all... and especially for the safety net to try again.