In the quiet of the afternoon
after the morning of playing and swinging and chores and errands
after the washing of hands and the sit-down lunch
after the rounds of may-I-be excused‘s
and the carrying of cups and plates from table to kitchen,
after the three-year-old says I’m ready to snoozy
and the two-year-old begs for “Night-Night Pooh”*
and tries to climb into his crib himself
after the baby is fed and put to bed
and the five-year-old hauls his basket of trains into the guest room for his quiet time
after the groceries are put away
after the coffee is re-heated
and the coffee cake is cut
and the only sound is the clock ticking
and the five-year-old sneezing
and the audio-book reading
I sit down to write.
All morning I go about collecting bits of thought, gathering them someplace in my mind and storing them up for that quiet moment in the afternoon when I plan to spill them out via keyboard. But somehow, when I’m actually sitting down, I find they’ve completely escaped me. They’ve flitted out in the quiet moments when I wasn’t exactly paying attention–well, not paying attention to the thoughts. I was paying attention to other things. I’m trying to gather them now.
In the nearly-two-weeks that we’ve been here:
Clive has learned to push himself on the swings
Anselm has learned to maintain his balance while not holding on to the swings
Elvie Kate has learned to laugh and blow spit bubbles
Ephraim took communion for the first time, and
Mama has learned to really, really enjoy standing outside and pushing a swing over, and over, and over.
Children love doing things over and over and over. The same books, the same spit bubbles, the same meals, the same songs and goodnight stories, the same “Night-Night Pooh” which entails lying down with the same blankie listening to the same audio book of the same actor reading the same three chapters of The House At Pooh Corner. Over and over.
I’m not exactly sure when we begin rejecting that. When we begin to classify things that used to fill with comfort or even wonder into the shameful spot called “mundane”. When the everyday and ordinary becomes a burden.
When we’re making the beds again
and changing diapers again
and making meals again
and cleaning them up again
and feeding the baby again
and the five-year-old wants to play trains again
and the three-year-old wants his strawberries cut up again
and the two-year-old wants to swing again
and he doesn’t know how to push himself
so you stand and push him again
over and over and over.
I have learned that no amount of Me-Time or Self-Care will give rest to a heart that despises the tasks of the Everyday.
I wish I could give ten-step program for overcoming this, neatly wrapped with a pin-able graphic, but the reality is just messier.
It looked like a lot of mornings that began with tears
and my face in the blankets of my bed
and an unsophisticated prayer that went
It’s not supposed to be like this.
And because it’s not supposed to be like that, and because He is faithful, one day I find myself standing in the middle of something I used to despise, like the laundry or meal-planning or pushing the two-year-old on the swingset–in the cold, with the rain sprinkling on me–and enjoying it.
And I know I didn’t do it.
The heart is a pesky thing. We think we can manage it because we can indulge its selfishness and placate it for a while. We can follow its whims–dragging Philippians 4:13 along for the ride–and it will quiet for a time. And we think we’ve accomplished something.
Then you wake up one day
after the new hobby
after the new relationship
after the new church
after the new house
after the new job
and find out that your heart just followed you there.
Better a new heart altogether.
Over and over.