As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Looking In

I had an experience early in the summer that has really helped me to see my life in a different way.  I saw my life, the way others see it.  Just for a moment, a brief, hurried, frantic moment.  As I walked past a window on my way to the emergency room, six kids nine-and-under (including one in a car seat and one sobbing in pain) in tow. It had been a doozy of a week.  Jeff was working crazy-long hours, and it was Wednesday, our busiest day of the week because I needed to have the school day done and the kids fed and out the door by 12:30 so I could drop the youngest at the sitter's and take the oldest to piano.  I had planned on picking the kids up from the sitter after piano and going to my parents' house for the evening because I didn't want to be alone, but when I got there my four-year-old daughter was doubled over with stomach pain, and had been inconsolable since I left.  The pain seemed to come in waves, and under normal circumstances I probably would have waited it out a little bit, but on this day when I knew my husband's night shift was starting in a matter of hours, and that if I waited too long and ended up needing to make a middle of the night trip to the ER I would be doing it alone and with sleepy kids, I panicked.  I called and arranged for both he and my mother to meet me at the ER, he to stay with the other kids until she was able to pick them up and bring them back to her house, so I could focus on my daughter.

It was under these circumstances that I caught a glimpse of myself.  It was almost enough to stop me in my tracks.  I remember thinking, "this is why people stop me all the time."  It's true, I get comments all time time about how I have my hands full, and asking how I do it.  It always takes me by surprise, because to me it's just my life, and it doesn't look any different than anything anyone else is doing.  That is, until that day.  Now I get it a little bit.  And having seen myself in that circumstance gives me a sense of freedom, that it's okay to admit that sometimes life is hard.  Beautiful, fulfilling, blessed, of course.  But also, sometimes hard.

Yesterday evening again I caught a glimpse of myself, but it was under very different circumstances. Jeff was out at a meeting and the kids and I were sitting down to supper.  I recently rearranged the seating at our dining room table, and from my new seat directly across from the patio door I caught the sight of our silhouettes, one tall person surrounded by six little ones.  And it made me smile and realize how incredibly blessed I am.  To be surrounded by these little people makes me feel like the richest person in the world.  To not only share this space with them but to see the way they love me, how they look to me, how they crowd around me and share a meal with me every single day - what a life!

There was a time when supper time without Jeff was enough to break me.  It was the most stressful time of the day, and I so looked forward to him being home that if he wasn't, all the stresses of the day seemed to come crashing down on me.  It was always such a disaster when they were all so little, and I am so thankful for the ways we've all changed, that allow things to be so much more peaceful.  I'm certain it has a lot to do with the fact that I have older children.  You relate to older children in a different way, and although they are not the same as adult company, I find that they help me to strike a balance between them and their very demanding younger siblings.

I have been trying very hard lately to pay attention to all of my kids better, but especially my bigger ones.  To look them in the eye, instead of buzzing about, intent on my schedule.  So seeing us like that yesterday was a real blessing, something that caused me to slow down and drink up this beautiful moment that is my life, and to be grateful for the hard things, and the fact that the many years of doing hard things has transformed them into the sweetest of blessings.

Thank you Lord, for the opportunity to see my life from the outside.  To know that it's okay to admit that sometimes life is hard, and to be affirmed of the fact that it is still at the same time so very, very good.

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