Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Beauty You Cannot Yet Know

It has been brought to my attention that I do not have enough fun in my life; that at 45, my daily routine could be summed up as pedestrian. 

Upon reflection, I can see how that might seem to be true.  Any given day, I write, I clean, I exercise, I pray, I drive people from point a to point b, take my medication, ponder what I should read, nag people to do their homework and clean up from it all so as to start again the next day. 

There aren't any bass guitar playing lessons or uber cool swanky restaurants scheduled or tickets to a jazz ensemble.  I don't cook gourmet food, whittle, design art work, sew, swing dance or speak French.  I haven't learned to sculpt or mastered hyper organization or couponing such that we would merit a television show for our efforts.  My blogging is the equivalent of being My Space in a Facebook world.  As for accomplishments, we're just doing what is required and the day can measured in diapers and lunches and schedules and assignments and bath times, diet cokes and beds made.  Looked   at with such a jaded jaundiced eye, it's hard not to say, "Wheeeee."

It's not that I haven't made my mark in the world. I can point to a burn on my right hand in between my second and third finger from rescuing smoking popcorn from the microwave on Sunday.  It's not that I don't try new things.  Today I can boast that I vacuumed the basement and I made oven cooked pulled pork.  I also can prove that at some point, I stop.  The couch is nearly sagging from the laundry I haven't finished.  Mentally making a note, tomorrow, the vacuuming gets the day off so I can tackle the great mountain of towels. 

I fell asleep with the thoughts, "Not enough fun." ringing in my head.  And I remember thinking, I can see how it doesn't make any sense to stay home, to have all these or any of these children, to spend all of our money on food and tuition and everything other than new stuff for ourselves.

But when you have these people and you wake up at 1 a.m. because you just remembered something that must be done, and go to turn off lights, check the bathrooms for dripping sinks, slip a note with dollar under a pillow after finding the tooth, and put the blankets over your sleeping children, this is something of happiness that cannot be acquired any other way than willingly through service born of love.

Collecting three sippy cups, two bags of clothing and making a mental note of who needs socks and who needs shorts for the next day, these things are given without thought partially because it's so late, but partially because it has become habit. This service is a limited gift with a limited time, even though I've done it for 18 years thus far. Coming back to bed, they've been a speedy and to my mind, fun 18 years. Despite all the laundry, dishes, beds, trash, paperwork, bills, reading of Green Eggs and Ham and viewing of Dora episodes, diapers, potty training, bed time routines and finding of shoes,  I can recall all the drudgery but it seems a small price to pay. 

The day starts at 5:50 so I can unload the dishwasher from last night's dinner and start on making the 9 lunches and 10 breakfasts that must be served before 7:30 and in some cases, before 6:30 to ensure everyone gets out the door on time.   Vitamins, clearing the table, two diaper changes, third and forth run out to drop people off and things finally settle down.  I still have dry cleaning and a patrol of the three floors to do, then lunch, then errands to pick up formula, bananas, and maybe a loaf of french bread to supplement dinner and make it more palatable for those who don't like pasta. 

It would all be Sisyphean and pointless if it weren't for one thing.  Love.

It's not Pollyanna to say that all service is joy if done with love. Love requires sacrifice, requires work, requires effort, requires some level of surrendering that only seems like nothing to those who do not know of the sacrifice being made.  If service with joy is done correctly, no one sees any sacrifice, because the giver does not browbeat the recipient with knowledge of the gift being offered.  If parenting were simply a matter of duty, it would be drudgery.  But parenting must be more than mere duty to be real.  It is my job to create hearth and home and make this place welcoming, safe, comfortable and yes even fun, to set up the experience for them to enjoy, and to derive my greatest pleasure from watching them enjoy the party.  
So this is for all of my children, so they will one day understand. 

My life does not fit on a resume, nor does it make for good bragging at a 30 year reunion.
But this life, with all that it isn't, with all that has been deferred and denied or allowed to wait, is more than I expected, and fuller than even I on my best moments, can comprehend.  And sometimes, being fallen, tired, frustrated or feeling self indulgent and self pitying, I forget entirely.  For those times, I'm sorry. 

It is hard to explain to anyone who is waiting for the adult life to begin, to everyone who doesn't yet comprehend why one would want to fall in love or to surrender everything for love except to say, it makes all burdens light, turns water into wine, and makes even the toughest times and hardest tasks possible. 

Having all of you is a gift, a beauty you cannot yet know or comprehend.  Serving all of you is also a gift, a great mercy: it keeps me from falling into a self absorbed world where it is my indulgences alone that determine what I shall and shall not do. The horror of such a life is that eventually, it becomes very dull and boring and yes, lonely.  My heart is full to bursting and never lacking for someone to love. 

And my life, while full of repetition, is never dull except if I allow it.  Any day, I can play with blocks, color, practice piano, get schooled in Mario Carts, pull a surprise victory in Magic, kick a soccer ball, bake cupcakes and give bubble baths.  Christmas and birthdays and Halloween and Easter rock, and as a friend told me, every day at my house, dinner is Thanksgiving.  I get to read Half Magic and Harry Potter and A Little Princess and Black Beauty and watch you discover them ten times over.  I promise you, the fun of life as an adult is in the details.

So while you don't understand it, I will tell you "Thank you." for this seemingly predictable life that can't be obtained via a degree.  

Thank you for all of it.  But I promise to have more fun while you're watching so you'll maybe get a better grasp of the bigger picture.  Tonight, I'm firing up the Lord of The Rings game, dibs on Legolas and you'd better watch out because once I get those fighting knives on fire, I'm unstoppable.


Anonymous said...

One of your greatest gifts is joy.
To find joy in what the world may see as mundane, is truly following God's call for you. Thank you for your joyful heart.

Maria McClure said...

I love this. thanks for the reminder that when we do things out of love, not duty, the tough parts are easier.

Natalie said...

Thanks, this post makes me feel so much better on a truely bad day.

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