Today has been one of those days that makes you want to cry. Or laugh. Or both. Sometimes at the same time. It's been a long day. You know the kind.
It was a sneaky day, because it really started out fairly well. I got a decent amount of sleep last night, well, comparatively anyway . . . and greeted the day with faith-filled optimism.
And then it was breakfast time. You could almost hear that rubber hitting the road. ;) Levi was following me around the kitchen begging "I want MEEEELK-shake!! I want strawberry MEEEEELK-SHAKE!" (we call Kefir strawberry milkshake at our house. haha) I reminded myself that love is patient, and kind - and responded calmly "that's not how you ask, Levi."
Of course, we repeated this process about 15 times before he was seated at the table happily with his breakfast. Scrambled eggs, "breakfast cookie" (one of those organic Aussie bites from Costco, those things are amazing!), and raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. I thought this breakfast looked delicious! Levi, on the other hand, proceeded to complain that "I don't like scrambled eggs! These are yucky!"
Ugh. Mealtime battles. AGAIN. No matter, I said. If he doesn't like it, really, doesn't like it, I can commiserate. I used to loathe scrambled eggs as a kid too. He ate all the other stuff, and I let him off the hook after three bites of eggs. Okay, breakfast hurdle cleared! I get Julia bathed, dressed, and down for her morning nap. On to packing up for "park day" as the kids call it.
Some sweet Mom friends all meet at a park one day a week throughout the summer, and pack lunches, and hang out while the kids all get to enjoy each other and the park. I'll be honest; I look forward to this every week, but today, it felt like a lifeline. With Nate traveling, I have not had another grown-up in my house to talk to for a lot of days. ;) Needless to say, I was as anxious as the kids were today to get out the door. I looked at the clock - 9 am. We were all supposed to meet around 10.
I got the kids dressed, and judging from the cool, cloudy weather, decided not to put their bathing suits on them quite yet. The park has a splash pad, but I wasn't sure we would be needing it today. :) I started packing lunches, and right in the middle of salami and provolone, Julia woke up. That girl has impeccable timing.
I went in and decided it had been long enough that she might be getting hungry, so I sat down in the rocking chair in our bedroom to feed her. This morning Olivia and Levi decided that it was a good time to run around the house screaming with the dog (apparently a.k.a. the "poof monster") who was going to "fire" them. Their screaming is keeping Julia from eating, because she's trying to see what on earth is going on over there, so I admonish the kids to use inside voices, and if they want to be in the room with me right now, they need to sit. Olivia will always jump at the chance to sit on my bed and talk, but Levi was off playing by himself. He came back in the room a few minutes later, and Olivia said "Wevi, what's that black stuff stuck to your leg?"
If you have toddlers in diapers at home, it probably won't take three guesses for you to figure out what she was talking about. Especially after she got down off my bed to sniff said mystery substance on her brother's leg. All for Mama to observe from the rocking chair while feeding the fussing baby. Laugh/cry moment number one! I laid Julia down to survey the damage. It wasn't pretty. Down his leg, and all over my bedroom carpeting, with a lovely trail on the floor in the hall, the rug, he got it EV-REY-WHERE. So gross. The clock says 9:45. Well, we won't be there at 10 today. Oh well.
I take him upstairs to change him, including a new outfit, and go back into my room to give Julia her pacifier before continuing to clean up the minefield all over the floor. After everything was sufficiently disinfected, I wash up and get back to lunches. Julia is still fussing, so I ask Olivia to go in and talk to her while I finish getting things packed up. I come back in to find Olivia hiding purposely in a corner where Julia can't see her to avoid any implications of sisterly affection. Awesome. I am struggling to be patient at this point, and avoid saying something snarky about what a loving thing that was to do.
By the time I get lunches, diaper bags, and park gear out the door, kids buckled into carseats, and back out of my driveway, it is pushing 10:45. Why is it that trying to get 3 kids out the door is like herding cats with your arm tied behind your back? Not every day, sure, but today - it felt like I was trying to move out of my house!
We arrive at the park, and I start getting Julia into the baby carrier so that I will be able to carry her, and have enough free hands to carry all the stuff. I have the older two kids waiting in the grass as I walk around to the back of the van to get one last thing. Our van has automatic doors, and I had just pushed the button to close the side door. Not two seconds after I am behind the van, I hear a bloodcurdling scream from Levi. I drop what I had in my hands, and run over to find his left hand latched into the door. I quickly get him free, and soothe the sore fingers on his chubby hand with kisses. Never mind that I've told him a thousand times to keep his hands away from the doors.
It was just a short walk from the van to the picnic table where everyone had gathered, but as soon as I got there, Julia spit up all over the place. Because I'm wearing her, it goes straight down my shirt, and all over her front too. I had set the bags down in the grass, and as I bend to fish out a burp rag, I notice a big 'ol Daddy Long Legs sitting on the edge of the diaper bag. *shudder* I tried to shoo it off with my sunglasses, and instead it crawled into the diaper bag. That was just the first of many, as I later discovered. Oh dear.
Neither Olivia or Levi thought it prudent to wait for bathing suits to play in the splash pad, so at this point I concede that they are getting baths when we get home regardless, and decide to just let them play. However, changing them into their suits was supposed to be my reminder to put sunscreen on them. Whoops.
We leave the park to head home for nap time, and I get the kids all bathed and dressed and ready for their naps without incident. I'm starting to regain some semblance of Mommy confidence! As lots of Mommies can attest, nap time is the time for sanity to reappear (most days). ;) I get them settled in, and remind them that they are not to get out of their beds, or play in their beds, or make loud noises, etc. etc.
Levi does not heed Mama's voice. Sometimes I think that kid likes getting disciplined. Finally after the third time and he's still being disruptive, I decide to cut my losses and just make him go to bed early. Better than him waking the other two who were sleeping. I scolded him again, and told him that if he must stay awake, he would be doing it on the couch downstairs where he couldn't disturb his sleeping sisters.
Then, for a few blessed moments, I sat quietly, ate my lunch, and collected my thoughts.
The day suddenly took a turn for the better.
I decided that after nap time, we were going for Chinese food. Because, you know, that would make the day seem . . . happier. And I was too tired to think about cooking dinner. haha
So we did! And the kids loved it. Olivia kept saying "MMMM! This is my favorite dinner ever!" Then they both asked for seconds! I guess sometimes it really is more fun to eat something when it's not the same old stuff your Mom makes. ;)
As soon as we got home, before we even went into the house, I rounded everyone up for our evening walk. It was a beautiful evening. We saw a deer come bounding out of the woods, and run up ahead of us a little before pausing to eat some of the mulberries that had fallen on the path. Olivia was thrilled to have also seen a bunny, and she picked me some clover and declared that today was "flower day". She handed it to me with an "I just love you so much, Mommy." Win.
We were out at that magic hour when everything was bathed in golden light, and my heart felt lighter too. I was pondering something I'd heard very recently: even on days like this, it is essential that I remember that God is on his throne. He is sovereignly in control of the circumstances of my life no matter how difficult or even petty they may seem. Jesus goes before me to prepare the path for my feet, he walks beside me as I mother my children, and he comes behind me to clean up my junk when I don't get it right. I am not alone.
I'm sure I will look back on this day in ten years and wish for the time when my day was only filled with cleaning up messy diapers, and spit up, and battling nap times. Yet, I don't want to miss this. There are heart issues here that require training too. I am raising up the next generation and training them up in faith that they will prayerfully belong to Jesus someday. This is no small thing! I love my children, and I have always wanted to be a Mommy, but it is hard. work. Beautiful? Yes. Rewarding? Beyond a shadow of a doubt. And day in and day out, through the mundane and extraordinary, this is where the battle is being wrought.
As I tucked my slightly sunburned, rosy cheeked little loves in tonight, and breathed in the faint smell of baby soap on their skin, I pleaded with God again to draw their little hearts to himself. These days when I am overwhelmed, exhausted, and not as Christ-like in my parenting as I would wish - I ask him to redeem my failures, and use them for his glory.
I listened to the kids singing their "night-night song" Praise God from whom all blessings flow . . .
Yes. Always, yes.