Today was the last day of absolutely no place to be. . .probably for the rest of summer!! How did it go by so quickly??? Tiiiiiimmeeee, why you punish meeeeee. . .AGAIN!!! Every time, Time. This is so not cool. So, I decided I was just going to treasure the absolute CRAP out of this day. Which is hard to do because as mamas we usually have a lot to do and lots of moody tiny people that we are doing it with. But truth be told, the reason I am treasuring this day has a lot to do with the fact that as my kids grow older I am realizing more and more that this is the last day in my life that is just like today. THE VERY LAST DAY where they are exactly as they are today. . .they are learning and growing so quickly! Which makes me get all achey inside and full of longing and pride and love and misty-eyed nostalgia. We aren't privileged enough to know when the last time will be for many things, but I sense this autumn coming in my life even in the midst of the hot summer of raising young kiddos. The first leaves of the river birch in our backyard have started to turn yellow, telling me that summer is marching past. I see the little signs in my boys that childhood is marching past, too- all those lanky arms and reading chapter books and showers that have replaced baths. The winks and giggles for jokes that are just between us, in a way that makes me feel like I am looking at a window right into their adult world.
And school, just about to begin.
Like Winnie the Pooh, I see my little Christopher Robins starting to grow. . .they leave me behind to go to "skull" and I feel a little bit like the Silly Old Bear, crying at the bus stop and waiting all day for my beloved friends to come back.
So, today I actually woke up before my kids (not my special talent). We stayed in jammies all morning, baked muffins, colored, played play dough. I got the costumes out and made macaroni and cheese for lunch (way fancy for me) and we went outside and were lazy in the backyard, little boys all draped over the swingset enjoying the breeze in the shade. We collected library books to return and reread our favorites. We got out a game and played about half of it. We read Charlotte's Web. I breathed in their little boy smell cuddled in my arms, and as I read to them about Fern and Avery swinging through the barn into the summer sky, I thought. . .that's what I wish for my boys. That joy, that abandon, that sweet summer of carefree childhood. It was like time stood still in that moment on our trusty faded denim couch, all arms and legs and shoulders and elbows and cheeks all over mine as we imagined ourselves right in that barn with Wilbur.
I still had to do and say all of the normal things I do and say in a day- lots of washing dishes and "put your pants back on" and "don't forget to flush" and "one more bite" and "get off the table" and "let's use our regular voice." There were a few meltdowns and at one point around 1:50 pm I looked at Noah and said, "YOU WILL TAKE A NAP RIGHT NOW." (and I might have added that Mommy was "all done.") But there's a spirit that has grown within me over the past eight years of parenting that has made it easier to take the meltdown moments with grace. In all honesty, about six years ago I would have done anything to escape some days with my kids. If you feel that way, I would not blame you in the LEAST. But here is what I was taught that made all of the difference. WHAT I FEEL is not who I am. If I am in a bad mood, that doesn't make me a bad mom. Moods and feelings are fleeting. They come and go and pass like the wind as long as we don't feed them with our thoughts. Because the next instant after I was ready to hop on the back of the mail truck and ride away from my three kids three and under, someone would hug me with chubby arms and my heart would just about burst. And I would think, "Am I even a good mom? I don't even know. Why can't I get it together?" But, slowly, I learned this: I don't have to feel great all of the time to be a great mom to my kids. I don't have to have it all together. . .as long as we're together, we've got it all.
Even though one moment isa complete shitstorm, the next moment might be the best moment of my life. I don't even know yet, so it helps to embrace the crazy and know that maybe the best moments are yet to come. Moods and feelings come and go, but LOVE. . .that's sticking around. Long after summer is gone and the birch leaves have fallen and the school bus pulls away. Love remains.
"Our emotional life is not the same as our spiritual life. Our spiritual life is the life of the Spirit of God within us. As we feel our emotions shift we must connect our spirits with the Spirit of God and remind ourselves that what we feel is not who we are. We are and remain, whatever our moods, God's beloved children."- Henri Nouwen