Monday 24 February 2014

Why I was up at 4:00 in the morning to watch hockey

Oh sure, there's the Canadian thing. We are hockey and all that. The Canada vs. US game on Friday had been worth the watch, and the women's gold medal game had been even more worth it the day before (a very Canadian "sorry" to you on both counts, America). Neither of those games, however, involved getting up far too early in the morning.

If you'd asked me if I was going to wake up at 4 a.m. to watch hockey during the last Olympics, I'd have laughed and laughed and laughed. And then laughed some more when I woke up nice and refreshed at a reasonable time the next morning. And then probably not have even watched the rebroadcast. Just the score, thanks, that's good enough for me. Oh, Canada beat the US and got the gold medal? Excellent. Go Canada.

So it wasn't dedication to the sport that had me yawning on the couch at 4:00 in the morning on Sunday. All of the hockey enthusiasm in this house may get contagious at times, but not that contagious.

No, I was up for this:

I was up for the sheer memory of it. For opening the kids' bedroom door and finding the boy already awake in his excitement. For trying to wake up the younger, as per his request, only to have him refuse in his sleep and then admonish me the next morning for not getting him up. I was up for honey toast between the first two periods. I was up for snuggling together on the couch under blankets and sweatshirts and fuzzy warm pajama pants. I was up because it speaks my husband's love language when I show interest in his passions. I was up for the boy's giggles and that bright light in his eyes that I love so much. I was up for very un-Februaryish snow falling in the darkness outside.

I wasn't up for the game. I was up for another family memory to add to our story.

Monday 10 February 2014

Every day

Every day I wake up just long enough to kiss my husband goodbye.

Every day I wake up again to baby girl tugging on my hair. She's pulled her socks off by then because it's her favourite way to start the morning, or at least I can only assume so by her repetitiveness.

Every day baby girl gets her bowl and her spoon and eh-eh-eh's until I feed her yogurt and granola. The boy eats his granola with milk, while the preschooler declares, once again, that he hates granola and won't eat it; he spreads rosehip jam on toast and I scold him, once again, for licking the knife before dipping it back into the jar.

Every day I offer prayers of gratitude, and the first of them nearly always comes as I step under the deliciously hot water in the shower. It is a small moment of perfection right there.

Every day we sit side-by-side on the couch, snuggled under a quilt, as we read about Laura and Mary Ingalls and their family. Every day, "just one more chapter, pleeeeease?" and I agree if there's any time left at all. But eventually other things demand my attention and they run off to play Laura and Mary (always fighting over who gets to be Laura), and then the younger one changes the adventures a bit. "I'M LAURA INGALLS AND THIS IS MY SWORD!" he shouts, always shouts, because he hasn't yet discovered any other volumes. And so Laura goes to battle, because authenticity in play is dull, dull, dreadfully dull.

Every day there is noise. Happy noise, angry noise, the brokenhearted sobs of a baby who can't have something that she desires. Yelling and laughing and shouting and banging and so much noise.

Every day there are meals to prepare, dishes to wash, and diapers to change. By the time dinner is done and dishes are piled high, I'm slower. I'm tired. But I load the dishwasher and scrub the pots and wipe the counters and wash the table and then - at last - I hang the dishcloth over the faucet and breathe a sigh of relief. There's still bedtime for littles, but that's quieter work; the heavy stuff is done for the day.

Every day the husband and I drink London Fogs from our favourite tea mugs. Sometimes I make them, sometimes he makes them, and sometimes we make them together - boil the water, scoop the tea, warm the milk, fetch the vanilla syrup. Then we take that first delicious sip and thank each other - "No, thank you very much!" - and baby girl comes over to beg for some milk foam from the top.

Every day I snuggle into bed, the husband's left arm holding me close. He always falls asleep first while my brain keeps going going going while I will it to stop, just stop, until at last my eyes insist upon closing and my brain translates all that busy noise into the night's dreams, most of which will be long forgotten by morning.

Every day.

Saturday 8 February 2014

Weekend Reading {vol. 107}

Looking for a place to stand: When I say feminism @ Mashena
And what I mean now when I say feminist is that I am for women having a place in this world outside of being a wife and a mother (but that women who are wives and mothers should totally feel free to love and revel in that! It's still high on my "what I want to be" list).

I am for women knowing that "submit to each other" in relationships doesn't mean "be quiet and try not to cause problems because he is the leader."

I am for critiquing the beauty standards that women are placed under and rejecting the controlling, patriarchal natures of our the anxiety that plagues women as we fret and obsess over things only seen by the eye.

I am for lamenting the violence that is done to women as a result of the lies our cultures and religions and governments spout about our place and our personalities and our passions.

I am for critiquing the ways that the world minimizes the imago dei inside of my body and mind and spirit simply because I am labeled "female."

I am for paying attention to Shiprah and Puah, Rizpah, Jehosheba, and the many other names of women in the Bible and for naming it a travesty that those names are not as familiar on our lips as the male names that join them in Scripture.

Letting Go @ The Incorrigible Gingers
I am far from mastering holding them loosely, letting them go, and giving it up to God, but that's alright considering that I will have many many more chances to practice. And fail. And practice some more.

We want to control our kids. Their sleep, their behavior, their mortifying public tantrums. But we absolutely cannot, and I'm convinced the fast majority of our culture's "mom guilt" comes from trying to control these little humans, and utterly failing. Because they are people. Not commodities. Not dolls. Human beings with minds of their own--and don't we want to cultivate that?

How to Begin Forgiving Our Parents: Becoming Human @ A Holy Experience
Look across now at whatever terrain separates you from your father, your mother, your mother-in-law, your stepfather, even your grandparent. Is it possible that someone is there on the other side of the road, someone like you, stripped, knocked out, unable even to ask for help? Might that person be wounded also?

How many of our parents intended the harm they caused? How many acted in ignorance and are ignorant still? How many are stuck in their woundedness, unable to see, to move?

This is what we’re doing now. We are training our spirits in compassion.

Friday 7 February 2014

Moments of silence

The house was still chilly from the cool night as I got out of the shower and into my clothes. Slippers too, always slippers, the floors here are never warm enough and I miss having carpet under my feet.

I left my room and walked down an eerily silent hallway. Three kids and silence. Oh dear.

And there they were. The boy and baby girl were cuddled next to each other on a heating vent, each reading a book in their lap - The Magic School Bus for the boy, an animal board book for baby girl - as they munched their apples. I found the preschooler in another room, also warming himself on a heating vent while paging through a picture book.

It was perfection.

Such are the moments that cause my heart to swell three sizes. Most of our day is noise and chaos and laughter and fun, screaming and fighting and silliness and more noise, but sometimes silence falls and I wish I could properly capture it. I wish I could take a picture or a video, but it seems an intrusion somehow, and besides, it never quite lasts long enough to take a picture anyway. I wish I could write it down to the last detail - the way the sunlight slanted across the crowns of their heads, the way the whole house seemed to be holding its breath, the sight of their rumpled pajamas and the red-white of their half-eaten apples - but it's enough, I suppose, to simply witness and savour it.

I think back on that moment later in the day when noise is once again king and I'm counting down the minutes until bedtime (theirs or mine, really, I'm not fussed). There is joy in all of it, yes, both the noise and the silence, but the memory of those silent moments somehow makes the noise just that little bit easier on my worn-out ears.

Silence falls again as the three of them sleep. Always the preschooler first, he crashes hard at the end of the day. Then baby girl gives in after squirming around next to me for a while. Finally the boy falls asleep, always our night owl, and I can't ever go to bed myself without first standing at their door and watching their slow breathing for a while. I smile over their sprawled limbs - the preschooler thick and sturdy, the boy long and gangly - and then I close the door on another day.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

With praise and thanksgiving

I was quiet during January, wasn't I? I would apologize but truly I needed that time of mostly quiet. Let the words just sit for a while, rest, rise like dough left warm and covered on the counter. And rise they have.

Words aren't the only thing that have been growing in the quiet of January, though. New Years Day brought the most surprising and joyful news in the form of two blue lines. Our fourth precious child had nestled himself or herself quietly into my womb, no announcement or fanfare, just a silent little stowaway until our News Years Day discovery. What better way could there be to start off a new year?

Of course, amidst the excitement and joy there were those other feelings too. Four kids? We wanted four but maybe we were crazy. And so soon? We had expected this stowaway to settle in early this summer, based on our previous delayed returns of fertility. And me, a now-pregnant bridesmaid in May, my dress will never fit, and another cherished wedding will be missed, with the baby due only a handful of days before that one, oh dear. And our marriage, we have made such progress, such progress, will pregnancy and then babyhood serve to undo that?

Ah, fear. How quickly I allow it to rise up and choke out my joy.

But many deep breaths were taken and many prayers were offered and many fears were spoken aloud to one another and it all settles down eventually. The wonder if it all sinks in and those worries seem less important. (Although we are desperately sorry that we will miss the wedding of my dear sister-in-law and her lovely husband-to-be. Even so, what could be more perfect than a wedding and a new baby at the same time? What a blessed time for our family.)

The boys are completely thrilled, as I knew they would be. Then again, the older one has suggested that twenty children would be about right, but after discovering that the female body can mature up to 400 eggs, he wondered if that was an option for us. Yes, these are the sorts of conversations we've been having around here. I think I'm answering his questions well so far, but heck if it isn't a bit nerve-wracking nonetheless.

As for baby girl, well, she has no idea. It's a new experience for me, having a child who doesn't understand that Mommy is going to have another baby in a few months. Pregnancy has always been a beautiful time of watching them prepare for their new role as an older sibling. Closer spacing this time around makes for a different experience, and I hope that we can all handle this upcoming transition smoothly. I worry for her, just a little, and for me too, but things always turn out better than expected in the end.

How funny that I once mourned our inability to have our children two years apart like we wanted, and now I'm nervous about having received just that opportunity! Well, it will be a new adventure for us - and time for a mini-van, too!

This fourth little one will arrive at the end of August, making me eleven weeks along right now. S/he has been good to me so far, with only the slightest bit of nausea some evenings. We had the good fortune of seeing the little bean via ultrasound at eight weeks, lifting his or her little head and waving around his or her arms. I'm excited about the upcoming weeks - hearing the heartbeat, feeling those first movements, hopefully leaving the last of the nausea behind as I move into the second trimester.

Whatever worries we may have, it is joy that we feel far more abundantly. Thank you, Lord.

Monday 3 February 2014

Lucky Seven

It has been seven years since I married that man.

They say the seventh year is the hardest and Lord knows that was true for us. The seventh year was one of tears and heartache and every day the fight to press on, to show up, to love well. The seventh year was the year during which all my pretty pictures of our marriage came crashing down as truth came to light. The seventh year didn't feel lucky at all.

In the weeks leading up to this day, I didn't want to think about it much. Couldn't we just let it pass quietly and unobserved? What was there to celebrate this year?

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Oh, this year was hard in so many of the worst ways. But there is so much to celebrate as well. There are the obvious things, yes, a graduation and a good job and a new home and other such cherished blessings, but there are quieter celebrations to be had as well. We both showed up, every day, to fight for what was lost. We both showed courage beyond what either of us has had to show thus far in our marriage. We grew to know each other more deeply, to love each other better, to be honest no matter what it cost us because the alternative was the end of this, of us. We rediscovered each other in beautiful ways. We held each other through so many nights of tears. God. It's beautiful. It's worth celebrating, every single pain-drenched minute of it.

Our marriage has been sifted and what remains is more solid, more treasured, and more focused now that the extraneous has been shaken away. So many of the old things no longer matter, the things that used to seem so big and important. I think of our marriage today and our marriage a year ago and I wouldn't trade these months of pain to go back to the way things were. I would have told you back then that our marriage was lovely, and in many ways it was, but it was only a shadow of what it could have been, of what it now is.

We celebrate less naively this year, but perhaps more joyously than ever.