I was just saying to Trevor a couple of nights ago during our twice a day brief Facebook chat that things have been going so very well here at home. Normally, by the end of his work week, I find myself stretched very thin and so ready for a break, but while he’s been away, I have felt carried. I told Trevor that I have felt like Peter this past week, keeping my eyes dependently fixed on Jesus and doing what I would not have thought possible: not just surviving this time apart, but living life with joy and peace. But I also admitted to him that I’ve had a few moments when I have started to let the waves frighten me a little, when I’ve counted the long days and nights ahead (including the ones *after* they get home!) and felt panic begin to set in.
Well, today I took my eyes off Jesus and took a good hard look at the waves around me, and I started sinking fast.
Mother’s Day is never my favorite, I have to admit. I am thankful for my kids every single day, don’t get me wrong, but Mother’s Day is just another day, with all the same messes, all the same parenting, all the same disputes over who is sitting where and who gets to put their feet in Mommy’s lap while we read together. I’m used to that, and I’d like to think I’m pretty good at making the most of the day anyway, enjoying the seeds the kids have planted for me in Sunday school, and maybe getting to spend some time with my own mom.
Today was Day 11 of 16 days of caring for eight kids without Trevor. I arrived at church weary but peaceful, happy to get to sit for an hour and nurse the baby without any interruptions. My best friend Mary and her daughter Maura had had a slumber party at our house the night before, and were with us for church. It was shaping up to be a pretty good day.
Not five minutes after the kids went to their Sunday school class, Delia’s teacher came to get me. Delia had had an accident on the floor. While we were cleaning that up, she threw up. I took her out of her class and thought the two of us could just sit in the (unused) nursery while I fed the baby. Then she threw up again all over the nice new glider chair. While I was taking the cushions off and scouring the chair and all its parts as well as I could with wipies, the custodian came in and said, “Hmm, that’s going to stain.”
At this point, I’m looking at the waves, and they’re huge, and I’m freaking out. There goes our nice dinner (McDonald’s was the plan, but still!) with my mom and grandmom today. There goes my whole week, come to think of it. They’re all going to drop like flies now. I’ll probably get it, too. Hey, we’ll probably still have it when Teddy gets home on Saturday. Awesome. A stomach bug is exactly what we need right now. (So much sarcasm in my darkest moments!)
I more or less held it together until I got home and called my mom to tell her we couldn’t come to dinner, and in the warmth and safety of her response, I fell apart.
But God was so gracious and patient with me on this day that was not going how I had hoped.
First my dad called and came over to measure our new table for some custom-made benches (to fit a few more little bottoms than the chairs can comfortably accommodate.)
Then my mom and sister came over in the afternoon before going to dinner and brought me coffee and popsicles for the kids.
While they were there, Pippa got an idea to surprise me and reorganize the dresser in the girls’ room according to the Konmarie folding method. She mobilized a couple of sisters to help her and an hour later showed me this: (I wish I had a before picture, but believe me when I tell you it was a hot mess!)
In the very bottom of one of the dresser drawers, they found this:
I laughed when Pippa brought it down to me. This card is probably some fifteen or twenty years old and intended for my mother-in-law (sorry, Elaine!) I have no idea why we had it much less why it was in the girls’ dresser, but it felt as if Trevor had planned this elaborate scheme from China just to brighten my day. And it did.
The rest of the afternoon was passed with me and most of the kids making picture-and-word labels for all the new toy storage bins in the boys’ room. (Delia did stay curled up on the sofa feeling lousy for the rest of the day, but thankfully she didn’t throw up again, nor has anyone else so far!)
It was a lovely day. A truly lovely day. I don’t have a photo of me and all my beautiful children in our Sunday best to show for it this year (or one of me with MY mom and sister this year, for that matter), but I am surely the most abundantly blessed mother there is.