I was blessed to have a glimpse of our children rising to the occasion last weekend. When I spend so much time questioning and doubting that all our teaching does any good, what I witnessed gave me cause for such hope.
Chris had been gone eleven of the past fourteen days. I was very tired and stressed out. I had kept us at home most days in order to conserve my limited energy, so we were also going a bit stir-crazy.
Saturday came and I wanted to take the children to an exciting event: a grand opening of a Cabela's store and the associated Family Fun Day. (If you read the press release here, you will see just how cool it was going to be. We're talking about shooting BB guns, shooting compound bows, riding on tractors . . . )
With this motivation, the children did their Saturday chores and we drove to Cabela's. There we discovered thousands of cars parked, filling both huge parking lots, huge trucks parked on all the grassy hills, and cars parked for blocks around the corners. I told the kids right then that I could not handle this: even if I could find a spot to park, I couldn't take four children by my-pregnant-self into such a crowd.
It got more frustrating from there.
I parked the car at a gas station to use my iPhone to try to search for anything fun to do (in the pouring rain) in the town where we were, and could find nothing. That's when I began to notice my great fatigue. With me holding down the fort for two weeks, I was short on sleep during a time when my body needs more sleep than usual.
I told the kids that at least I'd take them to a restaurant for lunch for fun. I began driving . . . and began falling asleep.
So, then I told the children I was pretty tired and I could only take them through drive-through for lunch. And I kept drifting off. I pulled into a line for drive-through and couldn't even stay awake there! It was so dangerous for my exhausted self to be behind the wheel of a vehicle that I had to tell the children I couldn't even get them drive-through and we had to get home immediately.
Did they complain, whine, throw a fit, say anything mean? No! I could hardly believe how kind to me they were.
We made it safely home (thank you, Jesus!) and I flung myself on the couch, asking them to scrounge up whatever they could for their own lunches. Because the two-year-old had napped while driving, he woke up as we pulled into the driveway, and I felt like crying because now I wouldn't even be able to rest myself because he would be running around.
I could hear the children from the sofa where I was lying down . . . the six-year-old made scrambled eggs for everyone! The eight-year-old made sandwiches. Someone clipped the toddler into his booster seat and fed him.
I expected bickering at meal time as is so often the case. I listened for wild nonsense and crazy antics, also common occurrences. Instead I heard the big sister outright invite the eager little sister to help her cook. I heard one sibling remind, "We need to pray before we eat, everyone." I heard another correct--but kindly--"Don't bang your plate, that isn't good manners."
When they were all done, I had set up "Mary Poppins" for them to watch for the first time (so I could try to rest), but my Mary didn't show up quite yet. A few minutes later, she emerged from the kitchen having made me lunch and brought it to me, with my drink, to the sofa! I hadn't even mentioned being hungry.
I remember having children just a few years younger than now and looking forward at mom-friends who had children just two or three years older. I couldn't believe how much more helpful those children were. It seemed an impossible dream that our children could ever assist in those ways.
Never would I count on a pregnancy or postpartum period being blissfully easy, but I do look forward to having a whole new level of help from the children this time around. I feel motivated to see that the lessons I am teaching what feels like innumerable times per day really are taking root in their little souls. I can't see the forest for the trees and it is much easier to count the many "failures" than note the overall steady progress of a soul's development.
So, to the mothers of younger ones, I encourage you to keep on keepin' on with your good lessons, which will be learned. And mothers of older ones: please keep instructing and encouraging me!