I’m not sure how many of you live close to home or family. Or how many of you are transplants like me. Regardless, I know that it can be very hard to be away from family. This certainly kicked into high gear once we had the boys. The reality of only seeing grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins via Southwest Airlines, was something that’s hard to appreciate until it’s your actual situation. But despite being states away from a single family member, we are incredibly fortunate. We have crazy generous parents who adore these boys, and do whatever they can to help us take care of them, despite the distance. For instance, they understand that babysitting is dumb expensive, and often help chip in when Bret and I need help. Help they would offer in person if they were here. Thank you!!
But one of the ways that is super tangible on a consistent basis, is clothing for the little men. Being some of the first in our community to have kids, there have not been many hand me downs. So at the start of the new seasons, Yaya and Pops send us money for new pants and shoes, and Baba sends the best pjs, shirts and art supplies. I’m always so excited to go shopping, boys clothes are the best. (yes I’m biased). My process is painstaking. I load up about ten times what I have the money for. We try on at home and weed out the losers, finally landing on the completed selections. I then return the rejects. And I usually mini-obsess over them. There is something about tiny clothes that gets me everytime.
You now have context for this scene. New shirt, adorable shorts, red marker. All three brand new. What’s not brand new is the combination. Jude always takes off his little apron when we are doing art projects. I’m singing and doing dishes, score…Mom, one. I get a little too swept up and turn around to see Jude popsicle-ing the red marker. No big. Non toxic, I’m sure.
Wipe the counters. Check again. Jude, head down, intently embellishing his new shorts with red. Just helping you out Baby Gap, he thinks to himself.
So naturally, I continue calmly singing and just smile with light and joy on my face.
Right. We’ll skip the beauty of my moment and swing to Jude, naked in a diaper, and me furiously scrubbing the new shorts with dish soap. I was able to remove all but a remnant. Just enough that I will see it every time I put him in the shorts. Just enough to relive the silly moment and be disappointed. Just enough to regret not taking off his shorts.
I should know better.
And in typical fashion, the Lord begins to stir my thoughts. The way He has done since becoming an overseer of little people. And I think about how often I do this to myself. My day starts out so good. Birds chirping, counters gleaming. I wake up before the kids (maybe not too often on that front, stick with me here). Pull the covers up and put the pillows on top. All two of them. These are the beautiful days I get my contacts in AND brush my teeth. I have a chance to ask the Lord for strength and endurance for the day. For patience. For joy.
I go in and wake up the babes. Excited to see their faces. And lo and behold, they are not on the same page. They missed the memo that the birds are chirping and I fly-ladied the sink last night. They rarely both wake up on the same side of the bed, unless it’s the one they both fell out of. Metaphorically, of course. Elliot is usually more down the middle and chipper. Jude, however, might hate mornings more than his mother.
What happens next though is how my whole perception and mindset and disposition towards our day changes. It’s like I see the next 12 hours unfolding in desperation and mayhem. When did I become such a downer?? I let this one section of our morning taint the entire day. I’m already exasperated, irritated and disappointed. What’s the point of trying? Let’s just hold it together til nap time. What?
But this is what I do. I hoped to be patient and joyful. To let God have control of my heart. To be loving and kind and hospitable to strangers. To be creative and play well with the boys today. And just like Jude’s shorts, all I can see is red marker and things going the way I didn’t intend. And it’s blinding me to the fact that the shorts are still perfectly good. Just as cute. Just as useful. They aren’t ruined.
Because it’s one thing to recognize you are broken and weak before a God who is strong and perfect. Another to dwell on the stain.
And I realize, I have to stop crippling myself at the slightest mistake or hard moment. My day still has plenty to offer. I still have plenty to offer. This moment is just another one to make me a better woman, to let me teach these boys how to control themselves. To teach me how to control myself. Just one more example of redemption.
I get to choose to blame my circumstances or choose to overcome them.