Mike has been gone the last two nights. Things are always a little crazy with evenings and dinner and bedtimes and no second adult on hand. There is the nudging and sometimes forcing for homework to be done (Daisy had an entire book report on bottlenose dolphins to not only finish, but begin) and instruments to be practiced. There is the gathering everyone for dinner and insisting certain pickier eaters actually eat dinner. There is dinner clean up, keeping Anders happy, pajamas, dirty clothes gathered and thrown in a hamper, teeth brushing, diaper changing, Family Home Evening, Jesse’s asthma treatment, Anders nursed, prayers, tucking in, occasional threats, re-tucking in, etc.
But somehow, these past two nights, it didn’t feel as crazy as it looks in that above paragraph. Moments of it likely did (moments that are forgotten now that it is 10:00 at night and the house is quiet but for the sound of water swishing around in the dishwasher), and I don’t want to sound annoyingly content or deliver the message that kids and life are all a piece of cake for me. They aren’t. But some moments are, and some days do end feeling complete and successful and good, and I feel very grateful and lucky to have had two such days despite having been on my own.
My sister-in-law Marnie has mentioned before how much she likes the original A. A. Milne Pooh Bear books. I hadn’t read them, but Goldie got one from her school teacher for Christmas, and last night we read the first chapter -- in which Pooh makes up a humming sort of a song about how much it is snowing. Between each line of the song, Pooh sticks a “tiddly-pom” because, as he explains to Piglet, it makes the tune sound more “hummy”. It was all quite cleverly written and even Abe (who had considered the book a bit beneath him originally) was laughing loudly during parts. The rest of the evening, and much of this morning, the kids kept tiddly pomming and laughing their little heads off about it.
Then, tonight, after bribing them all to clean up the living room and read books to Jesse while we nebulized the little fella, Abe helped corral them all to the kitchen counter where they ate brownies with milk. I watched them from the couch, where I sat feeding Anders. Five little blonde heads reaching for spoons, asking for more milk to be poured, looking down at the floor to see where a brownie crumb had landed, chatting about this and that. And I wished I could have taken a picture and caught all those little brownie-eating blondies over there.
I have to admit, I have felt, at times, that my lot is a little hard just now, what with six kids and all (though I don’t know you can call something a “lot in life” when you have chosen it rather than it having chosen you), but it is true that I have occasionally felt a bit envious of friends and family who have fewer kids or are simply done having kids and are enjoying more freedom and less of the chaos of small children. But tonight, truly, I felt nothing of the sort. I felt so completely content and sure of my own situation. That feeling has been creeping on me slowly lately as I’ve prayed and struggled to decide what things I want for my family, but these past two days especially I have felt such an acceptance and happiness with the things I have chosen – specifically, I felt so incredibly happy to have a big family, so in love with having an entire house full, and, even, a surprising willingness to have more should it seem right in the future. I have felt the comparisons I have made with others and the things they can do more easily or seem to enjoy more fully, seem to slide slowly off of me of late – as if they can’t hold sway in my brain any longer and so, are slinking grumpily off to sulk resignedly at having failed in their trouble making. I can’t explain it. Maybe it is just that good calm feeling that my life is mine and not meant to be the same as anyone elses: that it is completely fine for some things to be harder and some joys to be different. It is a good way to feel – a way that feels, I don’t know, like The Spirit touching my mind, like my Heavenly Father, who knows me and what I set out to gain down here better than I currently remember, letting me see things how He does. It feels void of judgment or envy. It feels like, well, like I said, like my plan and the plan for my family is something distinctly for us and that that is perfectly fine. It will have its share of discomfort and trade-offs, but it will also truly have its very own unique joys – joys that are tailor made for me and Mike and will influence our eternity; and it is accompanied by a happy knowledge that my friends, my family, those I associate with and love also have their own different plans and lives and troubles and joys, and that it is 100% fine and even worth celebrating that they will be different from my own.
I can’t explain this clearly. I am sure I am doing it wrong and maybe not conveying what I mean, and maybe it is too personal to put here anyway. But, I love when I have struggled to feel and see something correctly and finally feel my mind being enlightened by the Spirit, and I love how easy it is to recognize because, inevitably, it combines hope and happiness and acceptance of both myself and others, and it feels something like charity and like I am loved and, even, like I want to love others better and cheer for their own triumphs and moments of happiness, and be excited for the different stories both they and I will end up getting to live.
Anyway, saying goodnight on this post is long overdue. I will tell you what though, it is possible that I have never yet felt this grateful for this family of mine, and, I have this very strong, good and even kind of anxiously-excited feeling that the gratefulness and joy I feel about having them (and so many of them), is still a tiny miniscule portion of what it will yet be. That it has a good deal to do with life before I came here and even more to do with good things ahead for us – here in this life, and after, I think, as well. Maybe even more after than I realize.