*Apologies for the wordiness, but stick with it to the end? I have a point. Really.
The week has been a lovely one here in the Southland and we’ve done our part to soak up the light. The front porch seems to be everybody’s happy place these days.
As is our practice, other than weekly co-op, we’ve left the house very little. (Finn tried, but he didn’t get very far.)
Poor Finn. He caught a cold/fever/something yucky and has been pretty miserable for two days. To make it worse, I put him down for his nap this afternoon and forgot to give him his pacifier.
Worst. Mother. Ever.
I had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and it’s one of those appointments that you make months in advance and if you miss it it’s another six months before you can get in, so when Andrew called and said his meeting ran late, I had no choice but to throw the whole gang in the van and dash out into rush hour traffic.
Andrew met me at the doctor’s office with five minutes to spare. He offered to feed the family at a restaurant after my appointment rather than all of us sitting in rush hour traffic to get home hungry. He is a good man.
I got my clean bill of health and skipped out to my people where we followed a friend’s suggestion and tried a new-to-us restaurant. This is risky business with our gang. We tend to stick to places we know because familiar is preferable when you’ve got nine people in tow, most of whom still blow the paper off their straws and dunk their elbows in their water glass.
It took a few minutes for the kids to remember how to behave outside of our little compound. But after we discussed the whole “talking at 800 decibels” thing and the “don’t turn your straw into a musical instrument” thing, they were excellent.
We enjoyed some yummy Greek food and the crew earned themselves each a plate of baklava. I’m the Mommy, so mine had custard in it.
And just to prove we really did all leave the house, here is Andrew with Finn, who was exhausted (remember the no nap?) but relatively cheerful.
While we were eating, one of the servers came up to ask us about the kids (it happens a lot) and she mentioned she had 2 year old twins and a 4 year old and how hard it was. I told her, “You are in the valley of the shadow. They’re adorable, but they’re a lot of work. Just hang in there, Mama, and pretty soon, it really will be easier.”
And it’s true. Our twins are nine now. Nine. They bathe themselves (when they remember to use soap) and put on their own clothes and clean the dining room after every meal.
IT’S A WHOLE NEW ERA.
Yes, we’re still down in the trenches with the Littles, but yesterday Mira got the urge to practice a little potty training and her older siblings were so excited for her, they did a lot of the sitting and reading books I would normally do. It’s LESS work to potty train now than when I only had three or four kids.
Maybe you’re a mom who’s still in the Valley of the Shadow. Hear me now: it’s gonna get better. Bear up, keep trudging, kiss their chubby cheeks often, and hang on. The day is coming when, yes, they’ll still utterly trash the dining room during a meal but…
…waitttttttt for it…
…One day, they’ll clean up their own dang mess.
Or maybe you’re a mom who has seen the light on the other side of that valley. Maybe you’re just now staring at the glare wondering what happened to the fog or maybe you left the valley and haven’t looked back in years. If you see a mama who’s still wrangling the shadows, reach out and pat her on the back, ok? Try to remember what it felt like to conquer a trip to Target with Littles in tow and make sure you give the Valley-Dwellers a little encouragement when you see them.
And I’m not talking about, “Cherish every moment, it goes so fast.”
Tell her how cute her baby is, tell her about the time you left the diaper bag behind and the baby had a blow-out and you took the child to church wearing Daddy’s undershirt. Tell her you like her hair. Tell her anything but “you should be enjoying this more.”
Tell her the light is coming and you know because you’ve seen it.
I don’t even know when the light appeared here. But it did. Yes, we’re still massively outnumbered, often overwhelmed, and completely out of our element with each new stage of development. But God is faithful and so here we are in the glow of “some of them wipe their own butts now.”
And I can assure you, the view from here is beautiful…