December started out with a bang, as I supported an amazingly strong woman through over forty hours of labor. My friend and fellow doula, Sarah, came to spell me for a few hours the last night of November. Then on the evening of December first, another baby girl came into the world. It was an honor to witness such strength and endurance as that mama displayed. I am constantly reminded of the incredible stamina and tenacity we as humans possess.
After that sleepless weekend, we were presented with “the bug”, as my children so fondly have named it. It really began Thanksgiving night with Betty getting sick outside, just as we arrived home from a wonderful day with my family. The bug slowly made its way through all but two of us: Jack & myself. So, after a few days of birth jet-lag and a few days of sickness, we made it to this week, where we have had to reel ourselves back into school again. Our attempts have felt somewhat like crash-landings a few days this week. There’s nothing gentle about reality.
Yesterday we had an adventurous trip to Trader Joe’s, where I was meeting Matthew’s mom who was going to take the kids for the afternoon. Upon arriving, Elsie had to go to the bathroom, so we all trudged into the store. After about five minutes of waiting, it was evident we were going to be there for awhile. So I sent Nadine with the others to look for the stuffed hedgehog and claim the prized lollipop that comes from finding said hedgehog hidden somewhere in the store. Five minutes later they returned, all sucking lollipops, and we hung out to wait for Elsie some more. Others joined the small area, waiting for the bathroom to be free. Then Betty, who really has no filter, put her face to the door and yelled: “Don’t forget to wash your hands after diarrhea!” I quickly tried to shush her, while holding back laughter. Of course Elsie yelled from the recesses of the bathroom: “What?!” So Betty quickly repeated her reminder in the same volume. I just about lost it, standing about ten feet from the eggs and milk section of the store, where busy shoppers were probably only wanting to think about food. I never did make eye contact with the man waiting near us.
Tonight the girls were playing their most recent game of “Holly & Annie”. Usually it begins with them meeting eachother after a long absence, and both of them determining how old the other is.
“Holly!” begins Betty.
“Annie!” Elsie replies, and they hug.
“I’m seven years old!” says Betty. (Elsie whispers: Seventeen) “Seventy!” Betty corrects herself. (No, no! Seventeen, Elsie whispers again.) “Seventeen!”
“Wow! I’m eighteen!” gasps Elsie.
“Wow! I’m almost bigger than you!” exclaims Betty, and so on it goes until they go to Hawaii or some such place. It usually is Hawaii, actually.
Recently, an incredibly sweet young lady approached me with the offer of a lifetime: to come be at our home every week for a few hours to do whatever I need her to do. That right there is an offer money can’t buy. We look forward to our weekly visits from her. Often she helps with school, or sometimes she is just another ear for this tired out mama to talk to and I know my words find acceptance and not judgement. If ever there was opportunity for her to judge, it was last week. She was supposed to come Thursday at 9AM. I woke up at 9:05. Every morning, I always lay in bed to try and remember what day of the week it is, where I need to go, who is coming here, etc. I got to that last thought and sprung out of bed to look out the window. Yep, her car was there. I stumbled downstairs to find one of the kids had woken up before me and welcomed her inside. She looked at me and laughed. This here is what we call: real life. Every day I don’t have it all together. Every day I miss stuff, mess up, fall down, or give in to the pressure of life. It’s important to be vulnerable about one’s humanness. I do not wake up gracefully. It was both humbling and hilarious to welcome a guest into my home with a sleepy voice and crusty eyes. Whatever came out of my mouth, every word was really saying, “I forgot you were coming. Forgive me while I go make some tea and clean up the supper dishes I was going to wash before you got here this morning.” Yes, this real life stuff is just that: real. Not fake or put together.
The same person who saw me in my pajamas and morning hair also offered to help me clean and rearrange my room today. I say this to encourage some of you who may be on one side or the other of this coin of life. If you have time on your side, find a mama who looks tired and worn out, and offer a chunk of time to her out of love and not self-gain. The rewards will be eternal, I guarantee you. If you are a mama and someone offers to help you, take them up on the offer! Nothing baffles me more than when we as women shrug off the need for help because we’re too proud to accept it, we’re too embarrassed to air our dirty homes, or we’re too busy to slow down and let someone into our life. I was embarrassed to my core when she saw every single thing that was under my bed. At the same time, I felt a freedom in letting go of my facade that I’m all put together. Just like you, my clothes, my house, my dishes and my hair all get dirty. If you didn’t know it, now you do. It’s a constant battle, to admit my humanness and my imperfections. I’d much rather have an instagram life, but just as quickly as you glance at that perfect picture, reality smudges the lens again.
All these imperfections make me long for more. Thanks be to God, there is more! There will be a day, where there will be no more sickness, no more pain, no more mess-ups, and no more tears. Excellence and beauty will never be tarnished by sin again. Home will be perfect and complete because Jesus is there. If you know Him personally, one day perfection will be your reality too. Until then, let’s love eachother through the bad breath, messy hair, and clutter. And let’s not forget to wash our hands after diarrhea.