No matter how tidy the house is when I go to bed, it seems to rise in the mornings bleary eyed, messy haired, and overall just as disheveled as the rest of us. Perhaps Jesse has woken in the night with trouble breathing, and, in an effort to find his correct inhaler in the darkness, we’ve fumbled through a pile of medications -- leaving them mostly strewn across the counter. Someone has had a bad dream and made their way to the loveseat in our room – tossing aside throws and pillows, and leaving blankies and stuffed animals in their wake. Mike has gotten up with the early-departing Jr High kids (bless his heart). Bags of cold cereal, peanut butter, jelly, a half-closed bag of bread, a sticky knife, and an open set of scriptures all spread about the counter mark their morning’s routine. Mike himself, following their 6:50 am departure, has tossed aside more pillows and collapsed for a few brief minutes on the family room couch. Fresh crumbs are on the floor. Coat closets are open. Miscellaneous cupboards are ajar. And it all seems like, perhaps, the house has never spent a few hours in rest and quiet at all.
I live these same cyclic routines over and over. The exact same needs and tasks. Repeated. Often they seem tiresome and a bit meaningless. And yet . . . when I look back (or even forward) I see that my tasks have morphed and changed. My current well-worn routines aren’t quite the same as the ones from two years ago or ten years ago. And they aren’t the exact same as the ones I will have in five or fifteen years more. And somehow that awareness – of their current place and their inevitable change – allows a sudden and quiet little spark of meaning to light up in these daily happenings. It wraps itself around them and infuses these humdrum cycles of mess and readying and comings and going with a little glow of . . . “This isn’t glorious and big, but it is living. It’s caring for and raising”.
Mind you, I don’t have it in me to lend too much beauty to muddy floors, mildewed showers, and finger-printed windows. But the routines: the daily needs that ask to be taken care of again and again? There’s . . . something there. Something about figuring how to get so many little people readied for (and into) bed each night. Something about so many little blonde heads of hair needing brushed every single morning. Something about needing to put away that open jar of peanut butter next to that open set of scriptures. Something about putting the pillows that an exhausted Mike threw off the couch back on the couch. I don’t know quite what that something is, but . . . I will mull on it further. :)
In the meantime. This little conversation:
Anders: Mom, could flosses kill you?
Anders (looking unsure if I've understood): Flosses.
Mike: Like floss you put in your teeth?
Anders: Uhhh . . .
Me: I don't think floss could kill you.
Anders: No. These kinds of flosses. (He holds up a small plastic sloth.) Can they kill you?
Daisy. One can hardly discuss her at all, I fear, lest they put others off with all their gushings and braggings. But, it’s hardly fair to leave her out all together simply because she doesn’t mistake sloths for flosses and no longer confuses y’s and l’s. (And hasn’t even repeated her three-year-old assertion of: “Mom, you’re the best. But Dad’s way WAY bester than you.”.)
Instead, she goes about crafting and creating, sewing and singing, baking and reading. And, in the midst of all this pleasant activity, competes in State History Bees and gets invitations to state math competitions at BYU for being one of the top mathematicians in her school.
And, when it doesn’t occur to me to buy into all the extra fun of any given holiday, Daisy just . . . buys into it herself. St. Patrick’s Day for example: I made sure everyone had at least some smidgen of green on their clothing, then I dusted off my hands with a satisfied, “There. That holiday’s done.” But before I knew what was what, the little kids were grabbing me by the hand and eagerly shouting for me to come see the leprechaun trap Daisy had helped them make. And before too much longer it had magically been filled with a charming leprechaun note and a treat. (Though it was Goldie who deserves the credit for waking up early to make green eggs for everyone in the family.)
But, for all of that, Daisy’s certainly not perfect. In fact, most every time she claims she absolutely can not find something that she desperately needs, I ask her if she has looked directly in front of her . . . because that is usually where it is. Whether she’s staring forlornly into a “thoroughly searched” cupboard or in the depths of a dug through drawer, it is almost always right in plain sight. Heaven knows how we tolerate that!