The temperatures are slowly dropping. My beloved cherry tree is, at last, shedding its leaves as the wind curls around its branches. We wrapped up five soccer seasons and a football season on Saturday. I baked a pumpkin dessert on Sunday. My fall-ish quilts have been unpacked and tonight every one of them was wrapped around the body of a child as they snuggled together on couches and the floor listening to their Dad read aloud to them. He read all of them to sleep except our almost 16 year old daughter, who sat laughing at the story. She was dubious when we began, but now insists the book should be hers for the night so she can finish it. Her obstacle is her father, who won’t surrender it to her keeping because he, too, wants to read ahead. I’m soaking it all in – the sight of quilts everywhere – quilts I made – warming them all. The sound of my littlest’s gentle breathing as she sleeps curled in a ball on my lap. The feeling of being warm and safe and nourished while the dark and the cold deepen. My husband’s voice as he reads aloud to his family. Who cares about the shoes scattered all over the room? This is heaven, right here, with my family. A sentence from a book I’m currently reading came to mind: “They were cups of acceptance.”
I feel like a cup of contentment.
Contentment has been a foreign feeling lately, at least where family management is concerned. The last couple of months have been an exercise in survival with far too much time spent in the car driving children from practice to game to lesson to school and everything in between. I cannot count the number of times I’ve tried to compose a paragraph – or even a sentence – that captures what it’s been like with all of the children in school, each of them experiencing their own life challenges and battles; me trying to be the glue and the cook and the housekeeper, the taxi, the secretary, the everything for all of them and still maintain some sense of my own personhood – without rambling on and on like a lunatic. The only words I have to describe it somehow make it sound trivial, or like a badge, when really it represents the greatest effort of my life. It’s my greatest effort at consecration, organization, humility and love; the very best I have to offer. So it’s hard when it sounds so ridiculous, because I am giving it everything. Of course, my everything is badly flawed, but it’s all I have to give. I believe in the power and importance of the family. I choose motherhood. It brings all sorts of hidden costs I didn’t know I was choosing as well, but I do my best to take them in stride, make peace with them, and keep working. And praying. I’m praying my way through every single day. Life has felt totally out of balance and the ironic thing is that every time I’m desperate for wisdom to fix it, on my knees praying to know what we can cut, the Lord usually gives me something more to do. This month has been no different as a new assignment at church has come my way, pushing other worthy things aside. My patience has been tried by coaches who change schedules without warning and by the occasional child who refuses to work with the schedule at all. I have prayed for help and strength more times than I can count and repeatedly seen the Lord take 20 minutes of my life and expand them to fill far more than seems humanly possible. I testify that His grace is, indeed, sufficient for the day. Amazingly, He faints not and is not weary, and miraculously has a fresh supply of forgiveness for me every morning. I have felt stretched, drained and empowered all at once. I like knowing I have the capacity (with God’s help) to do all of this, but hate the price it comes with. I’m being more honest with myself in the tally this year, and there is much to consider and weigh.
Tonight I am asking nothing more of myself than to live in the moment. Forgetting the unfinished tasks of motherhood, ignoring the piles of clutter. A couple of weeks ago I had the strong feeling that we need to re-enthrone family read-aloud time in the evenings so we chose a new book and began. It feels SO good.
Tomorrow’s demands are already at the door, clamouring for attention. But tonight, I choose contentment. And it’s glorious.