So much for posting at least once a week. I have been doing a few odd things to keep myself occupied, and in the process I have discovered my new favorite gardening tool. The lawn mower! A few weeks ago, I mowed the weeds in the garden, and yesterday I decided to try it in the flower beds. It worked! When I just had two children, I got a little ambitious in planning out my perennial beds, and now I have all these sadly depleted stalks that need to be trimmed. I simply wasn’t getting around to clipping them, because if I have to choose between having nice children or nice flower beds, I will take nice children. I wouldn’t mind having both. Enter the lawn mower with its nice bagger attachment, and just like that, the job is done! I expect lots of volunteers springing up on the compost pile next year.
I have also been taking various children to various appointments, dental and otherwise. In the last six weeks, I do believe there were nine appointments, a facet of parenting I never considered way back when. Who thinks of cavities or glasses or specialists when that first baby is laid into their arms? We don’t want to think those things. So we don’t.
While I was sitting in the dentist’s waiting room I wrote this:
Sometimes I look at the lovely Christmas card photos that we get from our friends, everyone nicely coordinated, artistically arranged, and smiling beatifically. I wonder if those children ever yell and pull each other’s hair when the favorite doll is in dispute. Do they ever have shocking displays of passion because a sibling raided a candy stash? And I don’t suppose that lady ever gets the impulse to sneak out the back door and runnnn.
I have no objection to sweet family portraits. We do it too. But this putting our best foot forward as if life were all one lovely photo op is just not helpful at all…
From the very start of the parenting journey, the literature is illustrated with serendipitous scenes of dreamy women cradling their cute tummies- never photos of the women who inherited a tendency to retain fluid and lose all traces of their ankles. The nurseries are perfectly appointed, pool of light warming a new mother as she rocks and feeds her newborn- but no one shows her, teeth clenched, tears running down her cheeks because those first feedings can be so incredibly painful. It is all baby powder and cute onesies- no scratch and sniff pads with the odor of pooey diapers that have been in the trash can for two days.
We have a vague notion that parenting may require some sacrifices such as getting up at night, but we really don’t expect it to be just downright hard some days.
I love the warm, cozy, hot chocolate and candles moments. I love reading poems to my children. I love ladling out bowls full of their favorite soup in their favorite bowls. I love going on hikes through autumn woods. But at our house, hot chocolate spills with predictable regularity and people aren’t always polite about who sits closest to Mama to see the pictures. There are always piles of dishes to clean up, and when we hike, knees tend to get skinned.
Life is like that- an ebb and flow of lovely and nasty. It can be very discouraging to others when we throw up the illusion that somehow we do everything right and escape the boo-boos and poo-poos and other unhappy things. I think the worst feeling in hard times is to feel that we are the only ones. Somehow, we are unique in our need or our sin, whichever it may be.
I can just tell you, right now, that as wonderful as our life is, we all need grace and forgiveness daily. We all need bandaids, and we all need friends along side us who are real.
Okay, I wrote that after a painful episode or three with a child who inherited my stubborn tendencies. I had prayed and cried and spent a lot of mental energy trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, and I was feeling like a rather dreadful failure and thinking that I bet nobody else ever has these moments.
On a more cheerful note, I found a lovely piece of discounted fabric last week and envisioned my little girls in fluffy gray dresses with yellow accents. I could see our family photo this fall, with the baby and I wearing these dark fuschia jewel toned tops and the boys of the family in various shades of taupe and grey. Well, today a friend of mine brought her family to church in their elegant coordinated greys and yellows and fuschia from a recent family wedding. So now I have this dilemma… Do I go on with my plans and look like a copy cat or do I scrap the idea? Haha. Isn’t life grand?