It’s Sunday morning. The beginning of our “day of rest”. But I’m up before the sun – hoping that my early start might make the next eight hours or so possible.
Mike is gone and won’t be home ‘til very late.
By the time I need to leave for my 8:30 meeting I’m showered and dressed in a freshly-pressed silk shirt, pencil skirt, and heels. Hair is a pony-tail, and there are no extra adornments like earrings or bracelets – just a watch with a dead battery; but something had to give when the shirt needed ironing.
I’ve managed to get several young ones breakfasted, two of six in church clothes, a diaper changed, one head of hair brushed and another put up in “Heidi” braids.
As I check to make sure the diaper bag does indeed have diapers; as well as Anders’ current favorite toy (Woody from Toy Story – with his hat) I shout last minute instructions to the older kids: They are in charge. Get dressed if they haven’t already. Don’t fight. Someone come snuggle Anders so he won’t be sad when I go. Girls take over if I’m not back in time and Abe needs to leave to his meeting.
I’m back by 10:15. Abe is gone. Overall the kids managed well – though generic Captain Crunch cereal seems to have found it’s way across most surfaces in the house.
I wash faces. Dress more little ones. Tidy up bowls and cups (and generic Captain Crunch cereal). And we are off for our three hour church block – me holding a diaper bag and a Primary bag. Daisy pushing one stroller, Goldie pushing another.
The first hour or so with no Mike to help is rough. The speaker is a young girl – days away from leaving on a year-and-a-half proselyting mission for our church. She is sweet and beautiful. She speaks with innocence and faith. She sings as well – like a little earth-bound angel.
But the chapel is filled to overflowing. We are hemmed in on all sides and squished together in a fashion that requires constant shushing to two girls who are both sure the other is intentionally elbowing, and more shushing to another little girl who absolutely does not understand why her two younger brothers need to each have one side of me – leaving her an entire one spot removed from me.
The next two hours go well – I peek in on Anders and see him happily driving little cars and putting stuffed animals in a doll house in the Nursery. Jesse recites Matthew 5 : 16 in Opening Exercises without a hitch (though I listen at the door of his Sunday school class later and hear a whole lot of irreverent shenanigans: Teacher: “Are you guys ready for me to read this special scripture?” Jesse: “NO! Hahahaaha.” etc.).
But, when church ends, we are back to rush mode. I have another meeting (I typically only have two a month – one the first Sunday and one the third. How they both ended up on a husbandless, fourth Sunday was simply poor luck). I tell my Primary counselors to find an empty room and that I’ll come soon, then I search the building – rounding up children, quickly changing a messy diaper, instructing older kids again: find strollers, put Anders for a nap, don’t let Penny cross the road without you. Be nice to each other.
And I’m off again.
None of this would have been possible even a year ago – when Anders was still more baby than toddler, and Abe and Daisy were still more kid than pre-teen. And I’m grateful that they have been able to manage the home-front more than they should need to on this day. Still, when I arrive home shortly after 3:00, I am determined to make amends for the wildness I have thrust upon them.
And, unlike so many days this past week, I find the balance. The balance between things that need done, and people that need loved.
I read a chapter of our most recent book to the older three kids.
I scratch the usual Sunday-type dinner of roast and potatoes and make frozen pizza instead. Not very Sunday-ish, but it keeps me from being consumed by the kitchen and allows the time I do spend there to be in making the chocolate chip cookies Abe has been wanting.
We still use a tablecloth.
I like Sunday dinner to feel like . . . a tradition. Like something special – even if it is frozen pizza.
Afterwards, resisting every natural urge in me, I let dishes, and cookie pans, and messy high-chairs stay put while the kids and I head out for a Sunday walk.
The girls want to go up to the local high-school track.
It feels novel. And we are wholly alone there – with the sun setting, and the bleachers echoing the kids shouts and laughter.
I only have my cell phone for taking pictures – but that is just as well as Anders refuses to run free (perhaps having felt my earlier neglect too keenly) and, instead demands, “Hold a hand” to me for most of the evening. So, I “hold a hand” – and try not to be impatient about getting home in time to have an early school-night, and try to wander with little hand-holder anywhere that anyone seems to need to show me something – jumping in the long-jump pit, climbing on the announcer’s box, sitting on the highest bleacher. I get a few little shots with my phone on the way.
In the end, the kitchen still gets tidied up. Kids still get teeth brushed and tucked in beds. It’s later than I would have liked. I’m typing this blog post at 11:00 rather than 9:00 like I might have done had things kept more directly on task. But I don’t mind. Somehow, despite our earlier busyness, this day has still ended up feeling like a day set apart. And, if not a day of rest in the traditional sense of the word, a day of rest all the same.