Yesterday was one of those days that feature so much chaos and so many changes in direction that I ended up cancelling all of our afternoon plans, including an “open house” playdate for our playgroup. Baby Guy had a restless night, Beanie was snarky about her schoolwork, a call for help came that I couldn’t answer in the way the asker wished, Bugaboo was being grabby, Mr. Man was being somewhat destructively curious about the world around him, and I had a to-do list eight miles long.
Fortunately, Bugaboo breezed through her lessons, and I am delighted to report that she can count to 100 by both ones and fives, and can also write all the numbers when quizzed. She’s pretty proud of herself, and it pleases me greatly to see that, for the first time, she’s happy about an academic achievement not because it got her a prize or a privilege, but because she accomplished something difficult through her own hard work and perseverance.
Part of the reason for the general chaos of Friday (aside from four kids, their parents, and two big dogs occupying less than 1900 square feet) was that the time had finally come to declare war on all the laundry and put away the cold-weather gear. While I left out a couple of long-sleeved shirts and pairs of jeans for each of the tiny people, it’s late April in Virginia, so it’s time to change out the wardrobes and figure out what will be outgrown in the fall. Everything gets washed, everything gets sorted, whatever is torn or stained beyond repair goes into the rag box, serviceable clothes that will be outgrown by fall go into the donations box. The house becomes a thicket of textiles for that one day.
It’s a day-long project just to handle the children’s clothing. When I last did the Great Swap-Out in late September of last year, Baby Guy wasn’t mobile yet, and was still sleeping about eighteen hours a day, while Mr. Man was still joining him for a three-hour nap. Bugaboo and Beanie were delighted to be on the receiving end of a Care Bears movie marathon. This go-round, Baby Guy is a wee crawling chaos, and his siblings, while they delight in the great outdoors, are utterly fascinated by any organizing task I may undertake, and generally want to offer assistance.
I had boxes lined up in the girls’ room, which I was using as a base of operations because their closet is where the out-of-season gear gets stowed. It’s also the place where the tribe is least likely to be on a sunny day, such as the one with which we were blessed yesterday. After the three oldest noisily bounded into the yard with Smudgie, I shut the baby gate at the top of the steps and started to tackle the boys’ clothing. Moments later, I heard water splashing in the kitchen, and looked up to see that Baby Guy, who had been cheerfully playing with his squishy blocks and a couple of cars in the hallway outside the door while I sang silly songs to him, was no longer in the hallway.
Upon entering the kitchen, I saw Baby Guy merrily splashing in the dogs’ water dish (which I had forgotten to empty), looking like a giant, grinning chipmunk from all the dog food he had stuffed in his mouth. His objection to my removing both the water from his grasp and the dog food from his mouth probably would have been louder if he hadn’t had SO much stuffed in there that he couldn’t get to full volume. A snuggle, a rice cracker, and an animal wheel later, he was parked back in the hallway and I was parked back in front of the mountain of tiny garments.
Moments later, I heard the siren-like wail of an offended Beanie ascending the stairs. I called out to her that I was in her room, and to please come see me about whatever had upset her. After hollering at the hapless Baby Guy to get out of her way, she flounced into the room and moaned, “Bugaboo says all the butterflies are HERS!” I advised her that her sister was mistaken, that she needed to give Baby Guy a hug and tell him she was sorry, and that it might be a good idea to sit and play blocks with her youngest brother for a few minutes to show him she was sorry for speaking unkindly to him. That would have been grand, and a big help to me, but, as Beanie pointed out, “Baby Guy’s not there right now.”
Luckily, I heard thudding from the end table by the couch, so it didn’t take long to ascertain his whereabouts. I’ve mentioned before that storytime is a big deal here for all of our children, and Baby Guy had discovered the stash of books that lives on the shelf under the end table. He was cheerfully removing them, one at a time, and giggling as he dropped each one to the floor.
Nine hours later, I had everything sorted and stowed in either dressers or boxes.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for your abundant provision. Thank You for children who are agile, intelligent, and curious. Thank You for their strong bodies and strong lungs, for their ability to play independently, for their love for Your creation and each other. Thank You for enough garments to clothe them all decently and share with those who have none.
Lord, please help me always to see all of those things as the unmerited gifts they are. Days may not always go the way I plan, and Your blessings may not always behave the way I’d like, but each day and all it brings is a gift from You, to be celebrated and enjoyed. Your own Mother spent her days doing the routine tasks of maintaining a house and raising a child, and did so always with praise for You on her lips. Please help me imitate her example, and teach Your blessings by my words and deeds!