Last Sunday, I told you all about how I woke up in a quiet house, grabbed my Bible and a warm blanket, and enjoyed some rare (albeit much too short) time to myself before the kids awoke.
Well, yesterday was the complete opposite of that. Times ten.
It went something like this:
Just after 6 a.m., Brett walked into our room and turned on the light, stirring me out of sleep. “Jen? Jen?! Where are you, honey? I need to wear my windpants today. Do you know where they are?”
To his credit, my husband didn’t mean to wake me up. You see, he assumed I was awake because I wasn’t on my pillow, where of course he expected me to be.
Nope, I was sleeping at the foot of the bed.
Apparently sometime during the night, our three-year-old son came downstairs and climbed in bed with us. (I have no memory of this.) He then sprawled out horizontally in such a way that, defying all laws of physics, his tiny body covered the entire length of our king-sized bed. Desperate for a little patch of mattress to call my own, I crawled to the foot of the bed to stake my claim.
So that’s where I was when Brett flicked on the light. I mumbled something about there being clean khakis in his closet and for crying out loud you can’t preach in windpants, and pulled the comforter over my frozen feet.
“No, I need my windpants,” he said. “I’m preaching on spiritual exercise, so I’m wearing athletic gear today. Are they in the laundry?”
With a heavy sigh, I flung the comforter back and got out of bed, knowing good and well that I wouldn’t have gone back to sleep anyway. (Another one of those things they don’t tell you before having kids: no matter how deeply you could sleep pre-kids, the first night you bring your baby home, you are instantly and permanently transformed into a light sleeper.)
After a fruitless search of the clean laundry pile, the dresser, and the laundry sorter, I remembered that I had thrown a load into the dryer on my way to bed the night before. (See, I’m okay with the washing and drying part; it’s the folding and putting up part that trips me up!) A quick check of the dryer revealed the aforementioned pants—wrinkled but clean. (Whew!) I set the timer to ten minutes and told Brett they’d be ready soon.
By this time, as you might have guessed, the kids heard me breathing—which set off their sixth sense to wake up. The pitter-patter of little feet squelched any hopes I might have had for a peaceful morning.
And the real fun began.
Buddy wanted cereal for breakfast, but I forgot to run the dishwasher and we were out of bowls, so I had to hand-wash one for him. J.J. asked for oatmeal . . . until the teakettle whistled, at which time she decided that she wanted toast.
I continued through my morning routine of brewing coffee (first things first!), parceling out the kids’ vitamins (“Mom, I want the purple one, not the pink one!”), and refereeing typical morning squabbles (“J.J, don't tell your brother that boys don’t eat pink vitamins. That wasn't kind. Now apologize to him. . . . No, do it again, and this time I want you to mean it!”).
As I scooped out some dog food and opened the back door to let her outside, I remembered it was Fifth Sunday Feast at church. So I grabbed a frozen lasagna and threw it in the oven.
After breakfast, I sent the kids upstairs to get their clothes and come down to take showers. (I know, I know. I was supposed to do this the night before, but Brett worked late and it was a crazy Saturday and we got off schedule.)
Three showers, four outfit changes (“No, you cannot wear your red dress with your pink leggings and brown shoes!”), two squabbles, one art supply disaster (don’t ask), and one wrapped baby shower gift later, I had exactly fifteen minutes to take my own (cold by now) shower, fix my hair and makeup, get the lasagna ready, pack the diaper bag, grab the baby gift, get the kids' coats and Bibles, herd my crew into the minivan to get to church—and somewhere during the drive, switch hats from frazzled mom to pleasant pastor’s wife.
I wish I could tell you otherwise, but this is a pretty typical Sunday morning at the Stair house.
As I dropped off the last kid in his Sunday school class and made my way into the sanctuary (oops, I mean multipurpose room), I thought about something I read last week in Forever, Erma—a collection of favorite columns from the beloved humorist Erma Bombeck.
Those of you who giggled your way through Erma’s columns over the years no doubt loved her humorous take on everything from diapers to nosy neighbors. Her writing spans three decades of motherhood, from the harried mom stage (for which I am Exhibit A) to midlife and beyond.
Though I laughed till I cried at some of her own kids’ antics (and breathed a sigh of relief to know that our family is sort of normal), I was especially struck by the columns she wrote as an empty nester, after her kids were grown.
Erma wrote poignantly about how she had longed all those years for the time when her house would finally stay clean and she’d be caught up on laundry—only to grieve when it actually happened. She admitted that after years of telling her kids to pick up their rooms and fix their own snacks, when her grown children came home for a visit, she’d follow them around like a concierge, asking “Can I fix you something to eat? Do you need me to wash your clothes? Can I help you with anything?”
She wrote about how quiet it was after the kids left.
After laughing and crying my way through Forever, Erma last week, I’m trying to remember how wistful she was in her later years. So today, as I again went through our morning routine with the kids, I kept reminding myself to enjoy the moment, as busy and chaotic as it may be.
Because someday I’m going to look back and miss all of this . . . right?