Just after midnight I walked into the living room, tears streaming down my face. I had just watched the YouTube video of the Good Morning America interview with Steven Curtis Chapman and his family. They discussed the loss of sweet Maria, their 5 year-old killed in a driveway accident. I believe there is also a powerful YouTube video series of their interview on Larry King Live. It's painful but hopeful to watch a family in profound grief but with great faith.
The living room is littered with stuff...paper "cheesecakes" from Mary Clare's latest favorite game, Little People toys having a Sea World adventure on Stevie's ball rollercoaster, endless scraps of paper (these girls LOVE scissors!), clothes dropped on the way to the bathtub, a little paper crown which I think was made as a bracelet for me a few days ago. And then I wander into the playroom...the playroom and schoolroom which were thoroughly cleaned this morning. Naked Barbies and their clothes and shoes line the floor with scissors and more paper scraps. Scrabble letters (so much for that game!), markers, crayons, plastic pots and pans, you name it. I must clean again. We have guests coming in the morning. Guests with toddlers who need a safe place to play!
But in the midst of my cleaning comes a cry from the bedroom. Baby is ready to nurse again. But there is no room in the bed. Too many bodies already there. We find another spot and in a few minutes he is back to sleep. And I am back to picking up.
It was a rough day. A different kind of "real learning" day. I tried to make cinnamon toast for breakfast. We had no sugar. It went downhill from there. Over the course of the day we had screaming, fighting, biting, hitting, throwing, back-talk, time-outs, and hysterics. There were no books read, no activities attended. I was lucky to get one load of laundry washed. I had a handful of phone calls to make and received some upsetting emails (minor stuff). I didn't get much accomplished off my "checklist" and still haven't found my planner. Mary Clare is utterly frustrated at her inability to walk and do what she wants. Ellie is in a mimicking stage and parrots any mean words, plus she is getting rough with the baby. And Steven Joseph needs my constant attention so he doesn't try to eat things off the floor or pull up on something only to crash his head in a big fall. He awakens whenever the screaming begins.
I was trying to run an errand all day that never happened. And I need to go to the grocery store. I think I currently am suffering from grocerystoreiphobia. I avoid taking all 3 kids there at all costs. Not that they're that bad in the store, but the whole process from finding their shoes to putting the groceries away is just exhausting. There was nothing I wanted to cook for dinner and I was getting shaky by 5pm. We needed to get out of the house. But the baby had just fallen asleep. When he finally woke up it was nearly 7pm and I thought we would just go to Luby's Cafeteria since kids can eat for $2 on Wednesday nights (so much for the Weds/Sat freebies there!). Steven was working late.
We all somehow made it into the car and pulled up to Luby's. I had second thoughts. I don't think clearly when I'm hungry, tired, and have whiny children. How was I going to take all of them into Luby's when MC can't walk? I can't push a stroller and a food tray and a high chair. It would be hard for her to hop that whole way. I pulled out and drove to Sonic. Sobbing from the backseat Luby's-lover ensued. But the drive-in was a much better option and Daddy even met us there!
We ended the day on a better note, with bathtime and a Wiggles movie and prayertime. And tonight I am a happy mom. Because I am blessed with 3 beautiful, wonderful children. They fill my days with little frustrations, but mostly they fill them with joy. I am blessed to be home with them, teaching them to deal with their frustrations. I'm not sure I always do the best job at it. I spent way to much time escaping here on the iMac today. Hopefully tomorrow I will be more present to them. More quick to answer their needs before frustration ensues. More patient with them. More loving.
Steven Curtis Chapman talked in the interview about his song "Cinderella". It was written about his little girls, taking the time to dance with them and enjoy the present moment. He thought he would never be able to sing it again after the death of his daughter Maria in May. But then he realized that he must keep singing it. Because that is the legacy of Maria. The clock will strike midnight for all these children at some point. They might pass on too early or hopefully they will just grow up. But that paper cheesecake maker and that dancer with the ribbonless tap shoes will be gone all too soon.
And so tomorrow I must take the time to sit with them. To read. To make paper cheesecakes and watch ballet performances. To watch him babble and wave and clap his hands. To tell them how much I love them. How much God loves them.
"Because all too soon, the clock will strike midnight. And she'll be gone."