The other night Dan took the oldest four kids to a baseball game, leaving me at home with the bottom half — the littlest four. Four kids ages six and under. A blast from the past.
I needed to pick up just a few things for dinner, but I hesitated to head out with this gang in tow. Ridiculous, right? My little ones are always with me — why should I be afraid to bring them along just because I happened to have no older kids with me? Well. I’ll tell you why.
All those little bodies to buckle and unbuckle, buckle and unbuckle again, and no one to help me. You cannot be serious.
All those questions to answer (How many stomachs does a horse have? Can Spiderman see through walls? How does God make the leaves stick to the trees and then how does he loosen them up in the fall?) and no one to run interference. You have got to be kidding me.
All those tiny hands grabbing for jars, bottles, and all manner of breakable things in the grocery store aisle with no one but me to hold them back. Insane.
All those little feet — running, running, running, and all those little minds forgetting, forgetting, forgetting when I told them to slow down, to stop shouting, to not touch. I am getting out of here.
All those bodies to guide back through the parking lot, and then the total melt down in the van when someone did not supply someone with his candy treat for “good behavior” quite fast enough and no one to distract him (or me) from the foul mood. I am never doing this again.
But I probably will.
After our trip to the store, the gang of us baked cookies together. With no big kids around to worry about the “germiness” of little hands or chaos in the kitchen, I let everyone help. We kept it simple. We worked slowly. And it was sweet.
As trying as it can sometimes be, there is a simple sweetness to focusing exclusively on small people, small bodies, and small, ever-present needs without distraction — it’s something I think I too often failed to see when I was in the throes of it. Those were busy years. But I look back at them now, I revisit them now, and I miss that smallness and simplicity.
Nothing else in the world is quite so challenging. But nothing else in the world is quite so sweet either.