In This Season of Life

There are times when I realize I will never understand my children.

Like Julianna, who can drag a pile of “Your Baby Can Read” cards the thickness of a Tolstoy volume around the house…but when I tell her to put them away, she must do it one at a time. (Whimper, pick up a card, carry it to the other room, come back, whimper, pick up another card, carry it to the other room…)

Or Michael, who apparently feels an irresistible compulsion to climb the stairs, even though the instant he reaches the top, he turns around and starts wailing because no one else is up there, and he wants to be where everyone else is.

Or Nicholas, who must tattle on Michael and Julianna, even though I am standing right next to them both, with my eyes on them, and am perfectly capable of observing Michael’s or Julianna’s mischief for myself.

As I type this morning, the living room is strewn with papers hither and yon; in front of me the trash bags we stuffed into the unused gas fireplace for insulation glare unattractively, no longer hidden by the heavy, sharp brass grates we took down after Michael repeatedly yanked them down on himself. At the foot of the TV stand sits the rubber ducky I take up to the bathroom repeatedly, yet always seems to appear on this level of the house. Behind me, the kitchen is free of dirty dishes but not of clutter; the papers we from school get tossed every night, except the ones that require action, so you can imagine how that goes.

In short, this season of life is chaotic. There are things you expect from life with four kids, and yet there really isn’t any being prepared. This weekend, we had a wedding, children’s theater rehearsal, and a cub scout campout on Saturday, but nothing on Sunday, and the opportunity to do nothing was blissful. Soul food. I wish we (and here I’m speaking collectively, of all of you reading as well as my own family) could find a way to better balance between life-enriching activity and soul-needed rest. Because I know I’m not the only one in this position. It just seems like we, collectively, are so busy pursuing the goodness of life that we don’t have enough brain capacity available at any given moment to revel in the richness. And then twenty years down the line we regret having only skimmed the surface of life instead of drinking deeply.

Hardest of all is making a change. I ought to be able to shift my trajectory, but so far my efforts have not been successful. I suppose it’s another truism of life, that you can’t change others, only yourself. It’s just a lot harder when “yourself” happens to be the one responsible for keeping the schedule for a household of five other people who aren’t feeling the same need for change. Sometimes, you get overruled. And let’s be honest, my husband and my children are a lot better at living in the moment than I am. So maybe I’m really the one who has to change, anyway.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

–Reinhold Niebuhr


Nicholas standing in a “wheat”-box (instead of “sand”box). Note the inside-out sweatpants. Nicholas’ self-dressing habits should be a post in themselves. 🙂
Can you imagine sending a big honkin’ bus like this, so long it needs two stop signs, for a teeny wisp of a girl like mine?