This morning I was just finishing the last curl on the last girl’s hair to be ready for church, when that girl suddenly became very pale. Her eyebrows pulled together and the corners of her mouth turned down. She clutched her stomach and said, “Mom, my stomach hurts. Can I go to the bathroom?” When the color drains from their faces like that, it seems to me to be a sure sign that trouble is on its way with my kids, so I released the curling iron and freed the poor girl – who went straightaway to throwing up.
With that done, I helped her switch back out of her dress and back into her pajamas. I sent Goldie to make a little bed on the couch for her sister, changed myself out of my own church clothes, and with a “Aren’t you lucky that your hair gets to be so cute while you’re sick!” settled my girl down to a sick day.
She doesn’t look very sick, does she? Nevertheless, she and I are home (along with sleeping Anders); and Mike (who had been busily shoveling our snowed in driveway with Abe until about ten minutes before church) has headed off to church with the other four kids.
After they had been “good-byed” and sent off, I went to my room to make the bed before seeing what I could do for Daisy. I paused as I saw Goldie, in her white faux fur coat rushing past my window along the still icy and snow encrusted sidewalk. Next came Mike. Abe was walking just to the left and slightly behind him, hair wet from having just rushed to the bathroom to tame it for church. Penny with her cowgirl boots, braids, and leg-warmers was held in his left arm. And Jesse shuffled little sliding but quick steps along his right side – holding tightly to Mike’s hand so as not to slip.
At first I smiled at the cuteness of them all, trying to walk safely to church on such a white and icy cold morning. Then, suddenly, I was crying. I don’t know exactly why. Was it because they were so darling? Was it because I am so lucky to have them? Was it something symbolic I saw in how Mike was holding kids and holding hands and keeping everyone safe? Was it simply because a dad with his kids is a very happy thing to see? Or because that tiny group out there in the snow, all done up for church, is my world? I don’t know. It was just one of those unexpected and photographic mind moments that will stay with me. One of those moments when, of a sudden, the tremendousness, the hugeness of what I have shivered over my whole body and mind at once: that man and those kids out there, my other two snuggled up in here.
Somehow that moment just locked itself in my mind along with a few other similar moments that I have a perfect image of involving these people that are so very small in the whole big world, but are, literally, my whole world.