A bowl full of love
It’s the sixth day in a row of me figuring out how to be a stay-at-home-homeschooling mama to five children. I knew Chris would have to work a Saturday shortly after we welcomed our newest one, who is only 16 days old. And I’ve had a great deal of help this week. And baby Phineas is sweetly giving me 2 or 3 hour stretches of sleep at night (better than normal for us!).
But still today seemed a mighty tall order when I woke up. Rylee’s last ballet class was today and she wanted an audience for the ‘recital’ of sorts. Taking five kids 8 and under to the crazy hectic YMCA felt overwhelming to put it mildly. My sister and her son joined us. My dad came to help. I signed the boys in to the play area and the rest of us headed to watch Rylee dance.
She smiles and delights in having us there to see her. Her little cousin Isaac loves watching her. I rock the baby carseat to keep Phineas settled. All is well.
Towards the end of the class the childcare worker comes in to the ballet room and I know right away she is there for me. Blood rushes to my face and I started apologizing before she can finish telling me how out of control he is and that I have to come get him. I hear him through closed doors. I ask him to come and he won’t and then pick him up. And he fights me with all he has and I hold him with all I have.
I realize I left the baby and he’s probably crying with my sister and I run through the rain holding a 50 pound boy with an aching post-partum body and do my very best to keep it together. My sister meets with with a sobbing baby who needs to nurse. I hold a much larger sobbing one who needs something, I don’t know just what. I hustle into the class, gather our things and tell Rylee we can’t stay for the end of class.
It is hard in so many ways. I feel silly for thinking we could do this today. It feels unfair to the other kids. It feels unfair to me. And I want so bad to fix it and make it better.
We make it home. My sweet dad heads home and I assure him I’ll be okay and admit that I’ll cry about it later. Just not now. I rummage around for lunch and find myself so thankful for already cut strawberries, baby carrots and two boxes of mac and cheese. I hold a crying baby and together with Kyler make the pasta and he serves everyone up.
I lay Phineas down. I sit at the counter and listen to bickering at the table. I am hungry. I open the freezer and remember all the little individual bowls of lentil, sausage, chicken, sweet potato soup my friend Kim made me. “To nourish you and help you make enough milk for that big baby!” she said. I thaw a bowl and sit down again. I start to eat and start to cry. I think about her own pregnant self, seven months along with her sixth child, with more than enough on her plate but still knowing I need to eat and won’t make the time to do it…and I weep into my bowl of love-soup. Something about the feeling that someone far away knows the road you are walking and loves you and understands – makes me feel like I’ll make it through the day.
I ask a son to pass me my drink. He does. It tips and spills 16 ounces of cranberry seltzer all over my lap and drenches my cell phone. I am calm and the tears are silent ones as he says he’s so sorry and it was an accident and wipes up towel after towel of bright red juice. I take the battery out quickly but it is soaked and doesn’t work.
I remind myself that across the ocean tragedy has overtaken a nation. And that having a husband gone at work is reason to give thanks…when many are without the work they need. And my little people will grow into big people.
And that the unique challenges of one child are for the good of all of us. Each one of them was given to us with a purpose. Even if I can’t see it today.