The other day, after I'd painted the picture of a typical day in my home daycare, a woman actually said to me, "That sounds like a lovely day! I wish I could just play and go outside, but I have to go to the office." Maybe she was being sweet and complimentary and positive, but I honestly laughed, because I thought she was kidding. She had to be kidding, right? We do our best to get outside, yes, but it's not so simple as just opening the kitchen door and floating out with bluebirds greeting us and humming a tune while the children skip and play. It's like a military operation. It probably takes me about 30 minutes to get everyone on board and bundled up so that we can spend about 30 minutes out there before I need to triage. The last time I described my typical day for someone, she said, "No offense, but that sounds like torture." I'm really not offended by either comment.
So, I'm not here to whine or build myself up like some kind of hero, but my life isn't nearly as glamorous as it may seem to the outsider. There is a lot of poop (when somebody was potty training and I had three babies here, for instance, I once changed 9 poopy diapers and cleaned up one accident in one day). There are lots of squashed peas to wipe up (I probably sweep and wipe the floor underneath the dining room table three times a day). Then there is the challenge of putting three kids (only three because, of course, Charlie no longer naps) down for naps in a two-bedroom condo. They all have to go down at the proper times and without waking each other up. I have to get food into them, even if they don't want it. Then I have to handle the unexpected like diaper blowouts or falls or gigantic spills of soup. And on top of all the logistical stuff, I must reserve enough energy to give each little one the "Essence of Mom," that little special touch or cuddling that every baby craves. I also have to give Charlie the attention that a four-year-old needs, which will soon include homeschooling.
Then I get everyone happy, fed, and changed, and just when I think I can sit down for five minutes, somebody cries, and I have to reach deep within my soul and cry out to the Almighty for the strength to stand up and care for the upset child. I tell you, a day at the office sounds like a vacation. Unless your office is in the middle of a volcano or something.
Yesterday was Groundhog Day (or Candlemas, for you more-Waldorf-less-Punxsutawney types). Groundhog Day marks the half-way point between the beginning of winter and the beginning of spring. I've always thought that February was the harshest month. Maybe that's why it's the shortest. But Groundhog Day always brings a glimmer of hope (I know this sounds ridiculous, but I spent my teen years in Pennsylvania, and both of my parents are from PA, so there is quite a lot of PA in me. If you were from there, you'd totally get it). It's the idea that it won't always be this way (Aha! I finally just got the irony of the movie!).
Which is precisely what Paul said to me this morning when I was complaining to Paul that sometimes I feel like I'm jailed in this house. I just don't get out enough these days. Part of it is the weather, part of it is just my chosen profession. Part of it is simply being a young family. So to put things into perspective, it won't always be winter, our kids won't always be this small, and then we'll have older kids. And then our kids won't even be kids, and Paul and I will be empty nesters. And in the VERY long term, we won't even be on this earth anymore. We'll be in eternity with our Creator, where we've been longing to be all this time.
In the grand scheme of things, this is going to be a very short time. And because of that, we had better make the most of it. I'm learning to offer my daily pressures up to God and view my work (both raising my own children and watching the others) as a ministry. When I see things this way, it's so much easier to wipe the runny nose, pick up the crying baby that doesn't want to nap anymore, or change the nasty diaper that just couldn't stay contained. But I also need to learn to cherish these times, not just endure them. Please don't think that I'm saying that my life is difficult, all work and no play. I do enjoy my work, and the kids do have a great time here. They're small for such a short time, and they're such a joy right now. That's partly why I blog, actually. It helps me to focus on what the daily task is teaching me.
So we are heading out into the snow today, to make the most of wintertime. I'm heading out there with Charlie and two just-barely-walking toddlers. There will inevitably be a fire to put out, but I will cross that bridge when we get there. In the meantime, we are bundling up to build a snowman and have some fun.
So, I hope this wasn't too much rambling for you. Thanks for always humoring my stream-of-consciousness kind of writing. With that, I'll leave you with these photos of the kids coloring a cheerful depiction of our Punxsutawney Phil.
This is the first time Judah ever colored a picture: