Of Fridays, feedings and fishes
Having kids opens a door to a new level of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion that you didn't know existed.
It's an "I cant believe I'm up this early" kinda Friday which you originally thought was Saturday after all.
Kids mean sleepless nights, especially if you were a nursing "meals-in-heels" like I was, beginning the ever present burden of feeding human beings you brought into the world already starving.
No college class told me that meal prep was forever.
You wake with the responsibility of feeding humans and you go to bed with the hopes that they won't remember they need fed until you can at least see light outside and remember to take chicken out of the deep freezer for that day's dinner.... and it never ends.
You also learn that you can in fact enjoy a really great satisfying existence cohabitating with multi-levels of surface grime for lengthy stretches until you finally decide enough is enough and raise the white flag in the form of the famously white Mr. Clean magic eraser.
Interesting, isn't it that Mr. Clean has yet to find a Mrs. Clean? Has he attempted a failed courtship and all? But that's a story for another "dark-thirty thought it was actually Saturday morning."
Having kids that span ten years also means you will utter things like, "Ask your Dad that Geometry problem when he gets home because I haven't the faintest, " and "Please get the tooth you just lost out of the dog's mouth..... she likes the sound your metal cap makes hitting the kitchen floor," in the space of five minutes and feel completely sane about it all.
Parenting looks like air pods connected conversations attempting to stay connected to older, wiser offspring and yet simultaneously speaking some "code" about the spiritual temperament of the younger ones watching you brown taco meat because you need their prayer support.
Parenting kids is a weird dance.
Like a slow, tired, interpretive dance.
Like they do in Japan.
With low back pain.
That looks a lot like slow-mo reaching for your two-day cold iced beverage.
It's starting off with tri-boiled pacifiers and nearing the end with the five-second rule for just about anything that falls to the floor.
This is a stretch from the previously widely accepted "Three-second rule," because you now forget which day it presently is becoming once the sun appears.
It's praying for shoes, for college chorale second rounds, for them to actually know where Mesopotamia is, for notes that say, "Can you please make him be quiet?" instead of the frequent, "Can you please make him be quite?" even though they make you laugh because he IS "quite" a LOT of things, "quiet" not being one of them.
It's asking the Lord for spouses at the right time, for husbands for ice cream ALL the time, and for kids to get along for Pete's sake just some of the time.
I remember my Dad telling us kids to just get along on Sundays because it was the "Lord's day."
I always wondered why that was so important on Sunday, but now I know that he was just hoping for twelve hours of consecutive peace.
Now a parent, I get it. Twelve hours is "goals." You go, Dad.
Parenting is looking after holes in pants, socks, workbooks, attitudes, hearts and most often in the food budget.
It's getting butterflies when they attempt a trumpet solo, a poem, a college paper, a first day at work, and the first solo driving excursion.
Okay EVERY driving excursion.
And you promise yourself that you WILL buy your Mom and Dad better Mother's and Father's Day gifts this year.
You also promise yourself that you will laugh each time your son chews with his mouth open, your daughter tells you what Shalom means for the fourteenth time, the toilet refuses to flush and the dog forgets to use the bathroom on the hardwood floor instead of the basement carpet.
You don't keep those promises either.
You DO keep odd scraps of paper that say, "yoUer the BEST MOM," the first pizza-looking knit washcloth they ever attempted, the picture they drew of the bible story where apparently Isaac plants a huge smooch on Rebecca, the wooden rose they bought you when you were beginning to wonder if they were actually the devil's third cousin, and the poems you made them memorize.
And most of the cherished items end up in the treasure chest that is the underwear drawer.
Why underwear has mingled with treasured keepsakes for time and eternity is beyond me, and a story for another post.
Kids say things like, "I like the floppy skin on your arms," "Can I only have a VERY SMALL AMOUT of dinner?" and "You should take your wedding cake topper to the Antique's Road Show."
And you tell YOURSELF things like, "I'm messing this all up," "Someone else could do this better," "I cannot teach them everything they need to know," and too many other things to add here on my little nub of blogosphere.
You find yourself enjoying long hot showers where you can put everything in order again, pondering things like, why yesterday's math problem didn't work out right, or if tricking the students in seeing "pilgrimage to Medina" on that last quiz as a choice for one of the tenets of Islam was really half-fair when you knew they would read it wrong in their minds and think it was "Mecca."
Trust me, It's worth the water bill fluxing here and there for the muddling through.
I have found that parenting requires things like paper plates, hidden cookies and ice cold sprite in the fridge, the bedroom and anywhere else you can stash it.
These things make you a better parent, or so I tell myself.
The truth is that a very real, very tired, very over-it flawed parent will wake up and open her bible reading to Luke 5 and find an amazing thing happen.
She will read about the disciples fishing in their own strength all through the night.
She will understand a bit of that weariness.
She will also picture just how badly fisherman's clothes need washed because it's in her DNA to do so.
She will see them almost in real-time trying to explain to Jesus- definitely not a fisherman- that though he desires them to let down their nets there ARE NO FISH.
They've tried this schedule and that one,
They've read that parenting book and listened to that podcast,
They've told them dozens of times how to obey, be kind, listen and for goodness' sake just be honest.
They've scoured instagram for inspiration to MAKE CRAFTS, BREADS AND KNIT MATCHING SWEATERS FOR THE NEXT FAMILY PORTRAIT!
I mean........ they have TOILED all night.
Yeah, toiled. That was it.
Jesus knows he's not a fisherman.
He listens like he always does and knows that his word is good.
And the disciples let down the net.
And the weary Mom knows the feeling of nets filled with fish.
She remembers that God can take her nothing and make heaps of something spiritually valuable like He always does.
She need only obey his words.
Like Peter she bows her head and whispers, "Lord, you are God of this house, of these children and of this heart first. Forgive this heart of mine and it's self-reliance that keeps your miracles from happening."
And once again she forsakes ALL and just follows Him.
When the sun finally decides to stream into the kitchen she finds that oatmeal in a line of bowls on the counter becomes a blessing.
Sprinkles of brown sugar- delightful.
Filling bellies and loving souls to living words is a precious, blessed task.
Parenting is such a shepherding of our own hearts first.
"There's light for a look at the Savior," the hymn reminds.
There's no soul-quiet like the calm smack-dab-in-the-middle of mending your own nets,
in your own boat
just waiting on word from the Fisher of Men.