Life Is Messy, Part Two
I’m a bit of a neat-nic. I like things orderly and calm. I like shoes to go where the shoes go, trash thrown away before it draws flies, and pens to mark on paper. When it’s just one person living alone, shoes may “go” in a pile in front of the door until I feel like putting them all away. But when there are eight people, six of them very little people, letting the shoes land where they come off the feet makes for an entirely different scenario. When it’s just one person living alone, a pen left on the coffee table doesn’t automatically mean I’ll be trying to clean pen marks off the walls the next day… You get my drift?
And yet, I want a large family. My mother and sister chuckle, promising me that once I have one child, I will change my mind. The mess and loudness and lack of calm will get to me and I’ll decide that a small family is better. I will choose neat, compartmentalized, controlled living over the choas of many sets of little feet who leave their muddy shoes on my freshly washed floors and pick their noses and eat their boogers and can’t ever seem to remember to put their night time pull ups in the diaper genie! I mean, seriously!?
But my God, my adoring Heavenly Father, is allowing me to learn some very valuable lessons these days. I sincerely hope that my future children receive some of the benefit from my mistakes with the gorgeous, imaginative, uanble-to-remember-to-put-their-shoes-in-their-own-basket-beautifully-provided-for-them-right-by-the-door children I am helping to care for these days. I’m trying really hard to relax, pick the shoes up, and place them in the basket. Or at least calmly call the children and ask them to take care of their shoes (rather than screaming until the veins in my neck pop out.)
A few days ago the little one got really sick and wailed in pain, eyes begging me to make it better. Before I could make it better, I had to make it worse. We were both crying as I begged for her forgiveness, telling her over and over how sorry I was. When I finally was able to make it better, she was so happy. She hugged me tightly, as if to say “I know you were trying to help me. t’s okay now.” Then she toddled off to pick up a yogurt container that had been left out and proceeded to spill pink goo all over the shiny-clean floor and all over her freshly washed body. But she was so happy, giggling as she proudly displayed her skill at getting some of the yogurt into her little mouth. Relieved and incredibly thankful for that delightful smile and giggle, I sat down on the floor next to her and helped her finish the yogurt. Then I wiped up the mess, put her in fresh pajamas, and rocked her to sleep.
The life of my friends with the six children could never be described as neat, compartmentalized, or controlled. But it is a rich life, full of sparkly eyes, bright smiles, and lots of cuddles. The kids are each a challenge in their own way, but they are also precious and delightful. As much of a challenge as each one presents, they also give the gift of their amazing talents and individual opinions. Even when they copy one another, they do it in their own way. Which one would they choose not to have? Each one is such a joy, such a wonderful creation.
I realize that it’s possible that I will change my mind about having a large family when I experience pregnancy, when I meet the very real challenges of parenthood and can’t go home to sleep alone in my quiet bed, and when the reality of the chaos fully hits me. But I can’t help thinking that the pure joy of this gift God has given us – the ability to bring lives into the world and have a hand in forming and shaping those lives – will outweigh the challenges and difficulties that come with the responsibility.
I can’t guarantee that I’ll always be the patient and kind mother who calmly discusses problems with her children and never ever yells, but I would like the opportunity to give it my best try. And maybe I will learn to relax when I see a used pull-up on the floor… (Yeah, right!)