Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Imaginary Adventures Make Joyful Mothers

He settles the barren woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord!
Psalm 113:9

We went to the beach today.

Nevermind that the weather has been decidedly chilly this month. Clouds, rain, and temperatures below 60 degrees have filled the weather reports every day this week. Certainly, it is not your average beach day weather.

And nevermind that packing up a potty-training toddler, a four (and-now-a-half) year-old with food allergies and asthma, and a certain persnickety six year old for the day is more of a chore than I want to undertake unless absolutely necessary. Though we are blessed to be part of the small percentage of America that lives within easy driving distance of the ocean, the comparatively close proximity of salt water does not mean that spontaneous beach trips are the norm. In fact, any family beach trips at all are unheard of before the mainland temperatures reach at least 80 degrees, and at this rate, we will be lucky if we get a few weeks by August that meet such criteria.

But armed with some books, wooden play food, and three willing companions with great imaginations, I enjoyed the delights of the shore today. We feasted on a picnic lunch of sandwiches, watermelon, brownies, and orange juice (which Lydia spilled, but not to worry - the sand absorbed it!). Donny found a sea anemone and a sea urchin in the tidepool. The boys set up tents by the shore, and after a long day of enjoying the sunshine, we drifted off to the sound of the waves. In fact, Donny and I slept right under the stars, and even sleepy Hayden woke up early enough to watch the sunrise over the ocean. We hated to leave, but eventually, we had to return the picnic supplies to the rental house and get back to regular life.

At least, I had laundry to do. Donny said something about needing to help Bob (you know, the Builder) work on Sunflower Valley. Hayden gave Lydia a ride in the laundry basket. People have responsibilities, you know.

I should mention, lest it be unclear, that our "real life" days here are far from idyllic. There are five sinful people here 24 hours a day, which means that impatience, anger, selfishness, complaining, and the occasional piercing scream are all an unfortunate part of our everyday life. Thankfully, God gracefully gives us occasional moments - brief though they may be - where the children stop fighting and the parents stop reprimanding and we can all just enjoy an imaginary day at the beach.

And I confess, the days are seldom when I put off the laundry and the toddler's nap for a few extra minutes just to spend time being fully engaged with my children. I feed them, bathe them, teach them, train them, and clean up after them all day long. At the end of the day, there is little time or even desire left to sit down and just play with them. But by neglecting to enjoy my children, I am missing out on a great blessing. Yes, caring for their needs is accompanied by blessing as well, but in getting to know them at their level and creating memories (even pretend ones) with them, it is easier to find the joy in motherhood. Sometimes I realize that I have checked off all my obligations for the day, but never really took time to enjoy my children. They need me to smile at them and laugh with them and occasionally munch on some painted wood watermelon with them while sitting on a tablecloth on the floor.

In fact, as I imagined myself asleep on the beach, with Lydia climbing on my head and Hayden curled up beside me, with Donny talking nonstop, and even the tiniest of flutters reminding me of its presence in my womb, I thanked God for this great blessing: I am never lonely! Quiet moments may be few and far between, sleep may be sacrificed, and cleaning up puddles of milk, oatmeal, and toileting accidents may constitute a large percentage of my day. But I am blessed to always have someone to love and hug and play with. Thank you, Lord, for dreamy days and a growing brood little people to share in the magic. And thank you for reminding me that you have settled me in my home, not just to keep it clean, but to be the playful, caring, exuberantly joyful mother of my children.

1 comment:

  1. so true! It's way too easy to be busy with responsibilities and miss the best. there will always be dishes to wash and laundry to do, but little ones grow in the blink of an eye. glad to hear you are finding the joy:).