Reflecting peace

Friday night has come once again, (it always does every week). The need for my space and their space, my time and their time once again collide and wrestle in my brain. How will it go down? What will be the ending hour of our juggling act? Will I be able to hold on to my ‘calm voice’? Will they push to test the limits of my reserve? A strategic  trip to the library starts off our weekend with whispers and reading.

This week the bitter cold bites as we come home from our afternoon trip. Although it is still early and not even dark yet, I trudge to the coop to put the chickens to bed. This week I will succeed in my early, (weeknight regular) bed time for the girls. This week I will have some quiet time before I, also, collapse into bed exhausted from the busy week.

A rooster crows, a few hens peck at the snow, but most are already in the coop roosting for the night. My big girls also have started to wind down, reading their new library books, already in pajamas and snuggled on the couch. 

I pause. The pink horizon and the almost round moon catch my eye. Life has been too busy his week, too hectic, too stressed, too much.

Tonight is a winter’s rest night. Tonight we all get the quiet, the calm, the reflective quality of this time of year. It is not the darkest time, as the sun is actually setting later every night. But it is the time I often reflect, rethink, ponder and acknowledge the quiet season. 

Even the moon seems to pause and ponder in the trees slightly above the horizon. On another night it might appear to have been caught, or snagged on the branches. But tonight I see it is resting, reflectiving peace. 

 Tomorrow is another crazy Saturday of basketball games, birthday parties, skating excursions and fervent house  chores. But now, now is a lovely moment.

  Right now I see bird and mouse footprints crisscrossing the snow, frozen flower stems around the sleeping garden, and the empty trees outlined against the pink sky. The sledding run from last week interrupts the track of my daily path to feed the chickens. It reminds me that it will all be gone soon, the snow, the emptiness, the quiet anticipation. 

I must remember to breath, to see, to be gentle, with not only the three little lives snuggled on the couch with their new books, but also with myself. I must give myself a break everyonce in a while.

We have hotdogs with sauerkraut and potato chips for dinner. Followed by a family movie night and snuggles. The children are all tucked in bed by 9, leaving time for my own reading and snuggling and peaceful quiet.

A small peace is growing for me. Thank you for hearing, being, listening, and reading. 

Friday night parenting

Friday at 5:00pm does not mean the celebrated end of the work week. It does not mean ‘TGIF’. It does not mean free time, or relax time, or chill out with friends time. It means make dinner time, fold more laundry time, still convince children to hang up coats and empty lunch boxes, and of course it will lead to: try to get children to still go to bed time.

It means somehow finding the energy for more laundry, endless house chores and utmost patience, while still, somehow, allowing the children space to be ‘kids.’

This is the balance I struggle with every weekend. It is MY weekend to catch up on home stuff, but it is also THEIR weekend to recharge and play. At the same time that I feel it is important for them to learn responsibilities of helping with the house, I also want them to be able to relax and have a break from the  overtly structured time of the school week. And also at the same time, I feel that I deserve the same ‘break’ time, at least a little bit, to relax and recharge my batteries.

The result of this struggle is a push and pull that will continue over the whole weekend. Most Friday evenings tromp along with regular after school reading, Legos, dolls, and various play activities for the kids. I settle into a short moment of letting go, pausing, and relaxing with a book and a few projects.

But then comes time to make dinner. About this time, I realize that they are reaping all the benefits of the ‘weekend’ time, while I still work away (as I AM the parent) with regular life chores. Attempts at involving them sometimes work, but usually result in bigger messes to clean in the kitchen, hurt feelings of not enough ‘fun’ jobs for all three while just making dinner, or arguments and foot stomping.

We muddle through dinner preparations and maybe even succeed at a ‘full family dinner’ around the table. And then we dissolve into after dinner activities. The minimum kitchen clean up accomplished and some laundry is folded  as we drift later into the evening hours. Board games, Lego building, some doll play and coloring mix in with a few electronic games and some parental projects. 

These progress until it gets later, and later, and later. Suddenly I realize that it is well past their normal bed time, well into the silly and giggly time, almost to the tears and huge melt down time. A Friday night to them means getting to stay up, but with basketball tomorrow, this is not a good idea. The articles on the importance of regular bed time flash through my sleepy mind, proving what a bad job I am doing as a consistent parent. 

Perhaps I should redirect them to a different activity, but they are rather stuck on this game of their own creation. Perhaps I should remind them to use ‘quieter words’, their volume control seems to be broken or stuck on LOUD at this late hour. Perhaps they will just fall asleep on the pillows, that now surround their imaginative play game, but that seems to work less and less the older they get. 

Perhaps I should go to bed myself.

I opt for the ‘try to stay calm’ and ‘get them to bed now’ option. The youngest is suddenly to tired to even stand up to walk up the stairs. The oldest stomps up the stairs, making me wonder if that is the source of her ankle problems. And the middle child has gone straight to bed, but not brushed her teeth yet. Deep breaths, calm words, and strong back muscles get them all up the stairs and teeth at least attempted.

With kisses and tucking in and switching off lights, the children are all in bed. 

Now, finally I can fall asleep. Only, it will be in the littlest’s bed, while snuggling her to sleep.

Love, pure clean love.

  I have spent (parts of) my evening working on a post about Friday and jugging the needs of children versus myself. I have looked deeply into how our weekend progresses and how I struggle with keeping everything in balance. I have chosen what seem to be just the right words and it is almost finished, a few finishing touches.

But this is not it.

As I took a break from my final edits, I scrolled through my Facebook feed and stumbled on a piece about Moms and phones, and our distraction from the small, growing being, right in front of us. Yes, I felt the guilt, the sadness, the realization that I need to do more, and be more, I need to try harder, watch more and give more.

I also felt love. Pure, clean, and wonderful love. Love for my three marvelous little people. 

As I work to find myself HERE within this garden of life that surrounds me, I pause and see love. The snuggles on the sofa, the time building Lego creations, the bedtime chit-chats and giggles, the heart-to-hearts as we drive, the nail polish and hair styling, the tea parties, the cozy morning slow sunrises from my bed, and the funny text messages filled with emojis back and forth are all our love.  

It all is part of the whole, bigger picture
 

Yes, there are struggles, (and I will share the Friday saga another time), there are tears, and limit pushing, there is lots of giving of myself. But, there is also lots that is given from them to ME. Without them, I would not be me. Momma to three amazing girls, growing right before my eyes.

So, for tonight, I end my crazy busy week, with a three day weekend looming, as well as the possibility of a huge snow storm, with cool clear water of love.

Pure love. 

Delay’s Promise

Ode to the two hour delay:

How you do tease me with your promises of extra time, extra moments, extra sleep, and a bigger chance at a calm beginning to our day.

The children will be excited, the mother may linger in bed a few moments or have a second cup of hot coffee, while the father still goes about normal morning chores, but with the addition of digging out the cars and shoveling the walkway.

Perhaps there will be pancakes, or snow fort building or snuggling together with a good chapter book. Perhaps there will be lively breakfast conversations and quality parent child interactions. Perhaps all the morning chores will be finished quickly and we could all build with Legos.

Or.

Perhaps.

There will be: chaos. 

There will be missing socks, lost books, uncomfortable coats and bunchy sweaters. There will be at least one so lost in her book that she won’t even get dressed and another that laments her hair and everything about it. There will be yet another child looking for tiny Lego pieces,  and begging for help in finding a minuscule clear piece.

My coffee has gone cold. I am still looking for my jeans and a clean work shirt while trying to eat my breakfast. But instead, I must pause to find the mittens from last night’s snowy midnight playtime, which are hanging high above the woodstove.

I am still hungry and in pajamas. How can I give them a hard time for not getting dressed!? In the flash of  five minutes, I am dressed, stoke the woodstove, put away all the breakfast things and head out to start the car.

With two extra hours to get three children ready we have managed to get: one child in the car, but missing a lunch box, another child all packed, but without a coat, and the third child still looking for socks. A typical morning scene has unfolded.

Luckily, there is a full 20 minute window for arrival to school. Somehow, we manage to scrape the car windows and get out the driveway. We arrive at the inside edge of that window, on time.

Not a calm beginning, not quality parent/child bonding time. A regular entrance, to a promising (short) day.

Pausing for snow flakes

Lego building, sock sorting and even the cat napping, all stop when snow flakes begin drifting down.  

  Our calm Saturday morning activities are abruptly interrupted when the big, fat, fluffy snowflakes begin falling outside the window. I did not expect snow today; it is not even the first snow, but it is the long awaited slow falling snow flakes that call to my children, (especially when it eventually piles up deep enough for sledding, which it didn’t ). The lego house is abandoned, mid-build, in front of the wood stove. The ‘teacher’s white board’ is abandoned, with the word “kind” half written. I even pause my sock matching project, leaving mis-matched socks strewn across the sofa. Snow pants, coats, boots and hats are pulled on over footy pajamas as my two younger girls dash for the door.

a moment captured from the porch while I am still in my slippers
The two of them are completely caught up in catching snow flakes on their tongues the minute their feet are out the front door. I struggle into my own boots, hat and coat to follow, but they are long gone when I get outside. They have already created a chasing and hiding game that takes them all around the house, down past the chicken coop and around the old swing set.

I should go back inside and fold the rest of the laundry, or finish changing the sheets on the beds, but instead I choose to pause.

Thursday’s Yearning

 

  Black reading glasses on the laundry table, an almost empty coffee cup on the counter, the last sip of your coffee, all left behind. Only an hour has passed and I have only just awoken, but the weight of your absence hangs heavy on my shoulders.

Perhaps you made a whole big pot of coffee and left half for me! My hopes are quickly dashed, I look at the counter to see it is still covered with last night’s dishes, all of which block access to the coffee pot. No hot coffee, but I will use the latest mug you got me from your last trip.

When I get to work, I will see your truck parked in the far row, tucked under the big pine trees. The sun will not yet have made it to that row of trucks and cars leaving them shaded. But yours will look even darker and more sad, knowing you are not inside, not working at your computer, not answering ‘just one more email’.

It falls upon me to tend the animals, stoke the fire, wake the girls and get the whole day going here at home. I could use your help bringing in more wood for the fire. It would be nice to have your help of you making breakfast while I make lunches. But instead, I must rouse the little dragons, find their matching socks and scrape my own windshield. And this will all happen without our silly banter or the quick sparkle of your eyes laughing at my hectic morning antics.

After twelve years of these monthly, or sometimes weekly, trips I should be used to your absence, the quiet time, the solo parenting, the extra house chores. And I am, sort of. I will enjoy some quiet tonight, after the kids are snuggled into bed I might even watch MY favorite TV show. And I will muddle through all the sports team practices on different ends of town, with some extra miles on my car. But right now I just feel a deep absence. Right now I miss your smile, your mutterings, your presence.

And so begins a Thursday.

Snowy midnight visitor

The world has fallen into quiet solitude. The children are soundly sleeping, the well stoked fire has hushed its crackle,  and even my husband has paused his intermittent  snoring. All is calm, all is peaceful, all is well. The snowfall blankets the windows, the roof, the cars and the driveway as well as the hedge, by the now empty, midnight road.

A low, deep far rumble can faintly be heard by a careful listener, (the only one who awakens to the low rumble of the furnace kicking on, or the whine of the radon pump starting up from a faucet left dripping after teeth brushing). From a deep sleep to alert, awake and worried in a fraction of a second, my breath stops.  I thought we had made it through this one without the midnight rumbling, gravely visitor. I thought it was too early, or rather too late for him to come.

The plow man.

Will he dig up the freshly, frozen, barely  frozen mud? What if he hits the tongue of the boat, newly placed in the side yard? Thud. Scrape. Clank. I think that was the edge of the  cold yellow blade hitting against the plastic of my car’s driver side mirror. The sound stops. He must have scraped something, or crushed something, or noticed a broken something now dragged across the drive and shining in his harsh bright headlights.

Seconds tick by, seemingly like hours. Should I get up? Should I find my pajama pants and slippers and coat and mittens and hat and scarf?

Scrape. Thump. Pause…Scrape.

If it was something, it is now done. The blue plastic sled, now split in two? A mirror dangling sadly from a vehicle parked too close to his path? A forgotten summer toy, now broken into unrecognizable plastic shards?

Scrape. Thud. Scrape. Pause…Reving engine roar. Scrape. Engine roar fading, softer and softer.

He is gone. So quick, he did not wake the children, or disturb the husband. In and out, here and gone. Tomorrow will reveal  the results, the damage, the needed repairs.

Morning breaks cold and with more snow, or maybe rain and sleet. Wrapping myself in bathrobe, slippers, and  thick pajama pants, I glance out the side window. I peer out the front window. I survey the drive through the hall window. I press my nose against the girl’s bedroom window. No glaring damage. No ruts or tracks of uprooted yard. No shards of demolished plastic. No dangling car or boat parts.

Just a simple clear path is cut in the white snow, ready for us to both get out the driveway and on to work for the day.

Thank you plow man.