Joy, weeks 22-24 (because I’ve been a tired, crazy busy slacker)

Wow.  School ended and summer has whisked me away.  I wish we’d been taken to a summer beach house but we’re right here at home trying to find our way to a steady work/play balance.  Every day has taken all of me, all the time, and I fall into bed at night mostly asleep.  It’s crazy and exhausting but I love it.  It’s  my chance to have my kids all to myself, to work on our own agenda and goals.  Oh, that summer lasted longer!

I feel bad about my absence here because there is so much we’ve already experienced and so many moments when I wanted to record my feelings, but they all came in the midst of the chaos and when moments of pause finally arrived the symphony of thought and feeling had subsided to a mere hum of exhaustion, and so I’ve shared nothing.  I hope to reconstruct a few themes in coming days.

Today is Father’s Day.  It’s been a good one, but a different one.  My husband hurt himself mountain biking on Friday and is now on crutches.  Thank goodness for some great looking x-rays two weeks ago on my son’s ankle so that he is  now walking in his boot, and even taking it off occasionally.  I’m not sure how I would have handled TWO sets of crutches at the same time.  It will be interesting to see how things unfold in doctor’s offices this week as we begin to piece together what kind of injury it really is.  Honestly, I’ll be more surprised if he doesn’t need surgery than if he does.  When your knee is twice it’s normal size and you can’t bend or straighten it something is certainly wrong.   So we tried to make it a pleasant day for him, but he’s in pain, so it won’t go down in history as the best Father’s day ever.  And that’s ok.  I got to talk to my Dad for a few minutes, to thank him for believing in me, for encouraging my creative talents as well as my academic ones, for teaching me to trust in God, and for telling me I was beautiful over and over again.  He’s such a good man and I’m a grateful girl.  I think my best memory of the day was my four oldest children standing shoulder to shoulder in the kitchen working on an assembly line to cook a massive pile of chicken nuggets at the request of my husband.  I loved the way they kept sneaking them, which is precisely why I made so many, because it reminded me of doing the exact same thing in my mom’s kitchen years ago.    My daughter said, “We might need to call Grandma and thank her for such an awesome recipe.”  Isn’t it wonderful how life can change so much and yet be constant?  I find that very comforting.

Last Sunday I didn’t show up because my sister and her family were staying with us.   We have fourteen children between the two of us, with eight of them seven years of age and under.  The total range is 15 years to six months.  It was a very busy few days, full of running and playing and making memories (which of course included staying up WAY too late and getting up early to start it all over again).  It was a happy visit, one I thoroughly enjoyed, and also one which brought some great thoughts and ideas to light as my sister and I sat and talked whenever it was quiet enough for us to do that.  I learned some very interesting things from her and hope to become a better mother because of her.

You see, I’ve come to what is kind of a hilarious conclusion.  A totally useless one, but probably right.  I’m pretty sure that someone else should have been the mother of my children.  So many of my weaknesses have been exposed by the Lord that I’m pretty convinced that I’m completely unqualified to do what I’m doing.  I look at my particular blend of personalities (and we have quite a spectrum) and then I look at my personal tendencies and it’s really quite comical that I am where I am.  I’d love so much to be someone else for them but I only know how to be me.   So here we are and all they have is me.  I feel sorry for them but I’ve decided to quit worrying and stewing so much and get busy being more like the mother they need.  We’ll see how it goes.

We’ve celebrated a couple of birthdays in the last couple of weeks.  Our oldest turned 15 two weeks ago (his birthday celebrations were the start of my unplanned blogging vacation).  He’s off his crutches and easing jumping into life on two feet.  Last weekend we celebrated my husband’s birthday.  He relaxed more that day than I’ve seen him relax in years and it was wonderful to watch.  I’m so lucky I have him.

We’ve had some disappointments as well, things that have happened that leave you stinging a little.   It’s hard to walk away from experiences that make it difficult to esteem people you really want to look up to.  It’s caused us to really focus on what we can control, which is simply to do with our own hearts and feelings what is right and good.  So you move on.

The house is getting better all the time as we work to fine tune the basic summer schedule I’ve put in place.  I’m placing emphasis on work and the children seem to be getting it.

We’ve had some hard days and I’ve felt a little overwhelmed.  I haven’t accomplished enough of my goals for the year.  The Lord seems to be taking some areas of my life in directions I wasn’t looking when I planned things out last December.  But then there are moments… fleeting moments…. when I look around and have the feeling that I’m living a storybook life.  Like when I’m standing in my back yard as the darkness gathers around me and the unmistakeable scent of honeysuckle carries on the breeze.  Moments when the children are all happily playing together.   When I pick a juicy cherry off our tree.  When I lay in bed and listen to the sounds of a quiet house.  When one of the children comes to sit on my lap or do a dance or just connect.  I stand there and look around and am filled with a certain knowledge that THIS is life, that it’s a happy life, that wrapped up in all the work and worry and stress there are these golden threads of fairy tales, and  they’re mine.  And that is joy.

Have a wonderful week!

Jennifer

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