All that I can give

Many, MANY thanks to Christie for guest-posting this week. Her final post for today had me brushing back a few tears and nodding my head in silent agreement. We've been up early getting kids to cross country for weeks now, and sometimes, on the drive home, I formulate certain lectures that their sweet little hearts just don't need. Turns out they often have the perspective I lack. But Christie tells it so much better . . .

I wake up and sigh, feeling as though I could sleep for another year.  I ache from exhaustion and long to curl up into a ball and sleep. 

Mentally, I tally up the day’s to-do list and know that there are not enough hours to get it all done in.

I sit on the edge of the bed, stretch, and squint painfully.  Getting bids on shutters in the master bedroom has just climbed several notches on that never-ending list.  Stupid sun.  Stupid east-facing windows.

I limp tentatively into the kitchen, feeling left heel pain with every step.  Plantar fasciitis again, I’m sure of it.  Too bad there’s not time today to take care of that.

The open jar of peanut butter and half-empty glasses of milk on the counter tell me that the boys have already been here.  I sigh and grumble as I wipe it all down.   I scrape off big globs of peanut butter, thickly coating the butter knives.  Turning, I trip over a pair of football cleats, and the irritation bubbles up in a hurry. 

The bags from last night’s scout project are strewn all over the living room floor.  A dirty pair of inside-out socks lie limply on the couch.  A pile of papers litters the coffee table.

I grit my teeth, and start planning the lecture I’m going to give all of them.  Opening my mouth to call them downstairs, I feel two skinny arms wrap around my waist. 

“Good morning, mama.  Did you sleep good?”

Squeezing her back, I feel her hang on a few seconds longer than I do.  Guilt washes over me and I feel the icy wall around my heart begin to melt.  Smoothing her blonde tangles, I ask about her own sleep.  She chatters away, her button nose scrunching together the freckles I love so much. 

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I listen for the first time to the conversation that is taking place upstairs.  I smile, as I hear my boys building each other up and offering compliments and reassurances.  I remind myself of the anxiety we are all feeling with the new move and school starting on Monday.

Instead of a lecture today, these babies need love.  All that I can give them.

Shame washes over me.  Chastising myself, I look around me with a fresh perspective.  I see the unimportance of what really isn’t such a big mess at all.  I see three kids who are busy and happy, leaving evidence of that contentedness behind them.  Laughter bounces off the walls and wraps around them all day long.  Independence and confidence are taking root in these amazing souls.  Love is what they breathe as easily as oxygen.

In less than four days, my hours will be my own again.  Their happy banter and teasing smiles will be given away to new friends across the lunch table.  The easy companionship that has buoyed me all summer will be absent from my daily life.  The cleats, papers, snacks, and socks will be put away.

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(At least until the early part of the evening, anyway.)

And I know, with every fiber of my being, that my heart will break and pine for their messy, incredible, amazing selves.

So settle down cobwebs, and dust, and all the little messes.

These babies definitely won’t keep.