is to find something good and embrace it. With both hands. Slurp up every last bit of goodness without apology or restraint. Find the good stuff and hold on tight.
Relish it. Devour it. Eat up every bit.
This afternoon the kids played in the kiddie pool in the front yard (don’t worry — froggy moved out and we scrubbed and rinsed).
Baby Daniel was enchanted by the idea of an enormous outdoor bathtub he can share with all his siblings. Time after time, he climbed the small step ladder to the slide and then perched himself at the top — grinning in glory.
The big boys made an adventure out of filling the pool. The hose was too cold, they determined, and so they made endless trips into the house, filled a giant pail with hot water from the bathtub, and then lugged it back outside to dump into the waiting “hot tub.”
Kateri found a fat bullfrog in the field and shouted with excitement. Everyone abandoned the pool and ran to see. The gang of them gathered around their sister’s “catch” for a closer look. They stood, wet in the field; their bare backs and legs gleamed in the late afternoon sun.
The housekeeper in me attempted to be annoyed by wet footprints in the bathroom, sopping towels in the mudroom, and bits of stray grass that coated the kitchen tiles.
I tried, but found I could only bask in the summery feeling of frogs and simple sunshine while dinner baked in the oven. I could only remind the kids weakly to hang their wet suits when they returned indoors. I could only smile.
Today’s activities included:
1. getting up early for a head-start on laundry and schoolwork
2. racing out the door soon after breakfast to get Kateri to the barn
3. hitting the outlets (with seven children in tow) to pick up a few “special” items for Dan’s birthday (tomorrow)
4. rushing back to the barn to pick up the big girl (we were late)
5. hurrying home to throw together what the kids fondly call “Crazy Lunch” (toast with honey, peanut butter sandwiches, leftovers, you find it, you can eat it)
6. Grandpa arriving with a truckload of loam and 50 strawberry plants he intended to put in the field. Today. With the kids “helping.” And with Mom running out for more topsoil when we ran low.
7. throwing together and enforcing the ingestion of “dinner” in the form of sandwiches, crackers, and glasses of milk while coaxing big boys to dress for baseball
8. dropping Boy #1 at his game field and then racing to the second field with Boy#2
9. hanging around game field #2, swinging on playgrounds, running in fields, and keeping a motherless 8 year old from terrorizing my toddlers
10. rushing home for clean-up and, of course, American Idol (Archuleta totally won — this is not open for discussion) before at last getting the kids into bed.
Somewhere in there (I think it was at game field #2) little Raphael looked up at me, blinked his big brown eyes, and said, “Remember when we took Kateri to the barn and went shopping? Was that … this day?”
And I had to tell my little guy that yes, that was this day. It only feels like it was about a million years ago because today has been crazy and too busy and we are so darn tired and I am so sorry for you my little boy who should be home, warm and sleeping in his clean, sweet bed.
So Bean family life today was a little bit crazy. But I know this much:
There’s no one else in world I would rather be crazy with, get exhausted with, get so-sick-of-you with, push me to my limits with, and gather together with at the end of all the crazy.
Life around here is not always crazy, but even when it is — it’s our crazy. It’s our life. And I’m keeping it.
[tags]family life, kids activities, busy moms, crazy life[/tags]
Today I sit in the springtime sun. Its heat presses through my shirt and penetrates deep into my back and shoulders, where my muscles long have ached for its soft, melting warmth.
I yawn and stretch.
My baby boy uses a small plastic shovel to dig and poke and play. I ooh and coo at the tiny treasures he shows me. When he toddles near enough, I grab him. I squeeze his warm, sunshiney body and bury my face in his fat neck. I breathe deep the scent of sunscreen, lingering baby bath, and moist, fresh earth.
I thank God for long awaited sunny days, for the luxury of time, and for the sweet smell of a baby’s body.
After Mass today, we stopped at a local high school to check out the new track and football field they had recently built. When we pulled up in the van and opened the doors, the kids leaped joyfully from their seats and ran onto the field.
The baby was napping, so instead of joining them, I stayed in the van and watched.
The air was cold, but the sky was clear and the midday sun shone brightly down upon my gang of shouting children. Their winter coats splashed blue, red, and orange against the bright green field and cloudless sky.
The big boys sprinted, side by side for the full 100 yards, and then fell laughingly to the turf. Juliette hiked up her skirt a bit and skipped cheerfully in the open air as Gabrielle galloped along behind. An icy wind whipped through Gabby’s hair and swallowed her gleeful shouts, but I could see her small face, grinning and glowing in the bright sun.
Raphael was the littlest one, a small dot of navy blue on the opposite end of the field. I watched as he raised one arm above his head, gave a yell, and began to run. His legs worked steadily, puffing along behind his brothers. Small arms pumped purposefully at his sides. As he came closer, I could make out more clearly the details of his face. His eyes squinted in the sun. His mouth was open — panting, shouting, laughing.
I know that heaven knows no earthly comparison. But on days like this, I can’t help but wonder if it might feel a little bit like cool wind warmed by sunshine. Or if it might sound something like a joyful shout carried across an open field and look a little like a small girl’s wind-whipped hair, tousled and tangled. Or if it might taste like a boy’s sun-kissed face, fresh and flushed, when he climbs back into the van and hugs me.
Stephen had a doctor’s appointment this morning. Nothing wrong, just check up stuff. I brought along Eamon because he wanted to keep to Stephen company and Daniel because … well, because he keeps me on rather a short leash.
As the four of us sat in the waiting room, a little girl of about 18 months toddled over from across the room. She grinned and waved. She cooed at the baby and was about to relieve him of his pacifier when her grandmother came to the rescue.
“Don’t touch the baby!” she said as she swooped in and scooped the little girl up in her arms. Before returning to her seat, however, the grandmother looked us over and paused.
“You have three boys?” she asked, her eyes wide with disbelief.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Three boys,” she repeated. “You have three boys?”
“Yes,” I confirmed again. “I have three boys.” I was beginning to smile now as I caught sight of Stephen and Eamon grinning at me from behind her.
I exercised my right to not disclose any more further information about my family size. I wasn’t lying, after all. I do have three boys. I basked in the glow of my momentary normalness. Which apparently wasn’t very normal. But for me, for now, it’s about as normal as I get.
On a day where my life with all its tiny details threatens to suck me into its whirling propeller, I want to take just a moment to be grateful.
For the sticky countertops. For the messy diapers. For the untied shoes. For the laundry. And the laundry. And the laundry.
For all the tiny details that pull me down from the clouds where my thoughts are wont to wander. Because I need to be pulled down — close to smaller things and smaller people. People with little hands that clutch my shirt and slurpy mouths that nurse. People with tiny voices that stammer to tell me about the important things, the very big things, that are going on right here and now. Like the moth that fluttered through the doorway and has now landed on the light. Like the sweet smell of a fistful of apple blossoms from my special tree. Like the wondering if Papa’s surprise birthday breakfast really was a surprise, or if he really knew what we were up to and played along. And the deciding that it doesn’t really matter anyway because we did it because we love him and if he played along it was because he loves us back.
Small things. That are a big deal.
I never intended to be a “family bed” type. Unlike some people I know,where my children sleep is not an issue I take any kind of politicalstance on. It’s just kind of something that has happened to me. Withoutmy consent, even.
You see, almost every night, my baby boys sandwich me. It is notalways a comfortable sandwich, but it is a predictable one. Daniel,thoroughly spoiled, nurses on and off throughout the night. At somepoint after midnight, Raphael also finds his way to my bed. He snugglesin behind me and presses his small body against my back. He smoothes myhair, he pats my head, and he nuzzles the back of my neck.
The boys are agreeable enough. Unless I try to move, that is. Thishappens to be a coercive sandwich: Mama is not permitted to move.
But last night I needed to. I had a vomiting older child and awakeful 3 year old with a tendency toward nightmares. Every time Ishimmied my way out from between the two babies, however, a howl ofprotest rose from the bed.
“This is ridiculous,” some exhausted person was heard to say.Perhaps even loudly enough to wake her husband (how do they sleepthrough these things?).
It was ridiculous. And yet, simply because I was so tired,last night I did not fight the sandwich. And so it was that at 4:00 inthe morning I found myself — worn out and yet wide awake — squashedbetween babies. As I cradled Daniel with one arm and reached awkwardlybehind me to pat my enormous toddler with the other, I smiled at howclosely my circumstances reflected the ridiculousness of an everydayreality.
I suffer from an absurdity of abundance. Always stretched to my limit. And always blessed without limit.