Thursday, October 3, 2013
Never a Perfect Day
It's afternoon. I'm wiping up lunch messes in the kitchen and starting supper in the crock pot - chili, today, with bread rising over there on stovetop, just about ready to bake. From my post at the counter, chopping peppers, I can see the boys out on the swingset. Three boys, three swings. Ben hops off his every few minutes to run over to Peter and give him a little push before running back to his swing and pumping high again. The girls are on the back steps. I can't see them, but I can hear them - singing to the baby as Dinah bounces her up and down on her lap. Just for a few minutes while I get supper going.
It's a warm day, but most certainly fall. The slant of the sun is just so, and every now and then a leaf drops off a tree out back and plummets gracefully to the ground. And I'm not sure just what it is, the onions on the cutting board or some passing emotion, but for a moment my vision blurs, and I take a deep breath and close my eyes.
This season of life has been full of lessons for me. They don't stop coming with the fall, but keep on. I'm learning juggling teaching 3 children and keeping an eye on 3 others. I'm jiggling a high-needs baby and trying to keep a very active little boy (with a cast, no less) from driving us all crazy while trying to drill spelling lists and multiplication tables. This is the hardest thing I have ever tried to do. Just like two kids was, back then. Or four. Or one. Every day is a new challenge.
I lost my way for a bit because I was holding out for the perfect day. I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater, letting my frustration at the handful of obstacles color these past few weeks and months. I couldn't say "today, school went well!" if I experienced any pushback, or if I lost my temper. Holding out for perfection has a way of making life look miserable. And I had no one to blame but myself.
On this lovely October afternoon, in a quiet moment to myself, I suddenly remember - grace. Beautiful, sufficient grace. Somehow, I lost hold of it. Maybe it was the summer of the high needs baby, or that brush with PPD after she was born. Perhaps it was never having enough hours in the day to get it all done, or those letting my joy be stolen by envy. Whatever it was, or is, enough.
There will never be a perfect day. I will lose my temper, children will argue, dinner is sometimes a bust and just when you think the baby will sleep long enough for you to get a work out in, she will wake just as you are working up a sweat. Naming it all failure, holding out for perfection? Only hurts myself. My family. It steals my joy.
But when I stop holding out for perfection, I can claim grace, instead. Grace that covers the multitudes of messes that I can't get to with a baby that won't be set down. Grace that covers when my human nature snaps and I owe my kids an apology. Grace that finds me again and again and reminds me that I'm loved - yes, me with the baby weight still to lose and no time for a shower today. Me with stacks of bills to get to. Me, who falls asleep while waiting to spend time with my husband because I am bone. tired. Grace that shows me that I can live an abundant life - right where I am. With my thrifted furniture and pathetic savings account. Because abundance is never about the things that can be seen - but the things that are unseen.
Grace. Love. Joy. Peace.
I slide the chopped vegetables into the crockpot, wipe down the counter and slip on my beat up birks at the back door - heading out into the golden afternoon with my 6 beautiful, flawed, exasperating, precious children. Not a perfect day, not even close. But a grace-filled one.
That's better, anyway.
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Posted by Lydia at 9:29 AM