This morning as I was trying to get everyone out the door to go to the library to start a project for school, Graham decided that after not sleeping last night or napping this morning, he needed to nurse to sleep. Right that very minute.
When he woke up we all got ready, found the last two books that were due back three weeks ago and made our way to the van where Cooper Gray tripped and fell on the cement. I was wearing Graham, and the big kids were all carrying stacks of books so I had to crouch down and hold both littles to try to comfort Coop, who was wailing loudly at this point. One side of the van to buckle one, the other side to buckle the other. Caught a glimpse of my pale, unwashed, make up free face and greasy hair in the rearview and prayed no one would see us today. And I wondered what the neighbors must think of the circus it is every time we leave the house with all five kids.
As I got out to unload kids one of my beautiful, showered friends pulled in right beside of us. I hit Graham’s head while unbuckling Coop and we walked in together, with a screaming baby, before going our separate ways. I wondered if she ever just looks at me and wonders why I can’t get myself together.
We survived the library, got what we needed and got out. Coop threw a tantrum all the way to the car until he suddenly got quiet beside the car and climbed in without complaint. I was grateful since all of the people trying to tell you who to vote for were sitting out front and watching us. I wondered if they were judging me for having so many kids when I can’t control this one. As we were backing out he started screaming uncontrollably and I look back to see that he had found a tiny bird egg in the parking lot and crushed it, spilling the contents all over his hands and the book in his lap. We drove home with two screaming littles, three stressed out bigs, and me, worrying about what kind of diseases we’d have by the time we got home to wash hands. And when we walked in Graham coughed until he puked all over us, both.
It wasn’t the most pleasant morning. Not the worst, either. But, it was the kind of morning that left me feeling tired and ugly and out of control. And unimportant. I was grateful when I walked back out to the van to unload books and found that my beautiful friend who is also one of the kindest people I know had left before us and put a sticky note on the windshield for me. I stuck it on my water bottle, hoping I’d get to see it again today.
After getting Cooper settled, making the kids lunch, and giving the big kids all their assignments I had to get Graham all cleaned up and since the sink was empty I decided to bathe him there because I love to take pictures of the kids when they get a sink bath.
And while standing there, loving on my perfect little Byrd this quote from Neal A Maxwell came to mind:
“When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this.”(“The Women of God”, found here)
I found so much comfort in being reminded that I chose this life because I knew it was what is most important.
There will never be a moment in the future that I look back and think what a waste it was that I spent my time kissing ouchies, giving hugs, teaching my kids to read and research and count, teaching five people how important it is to be kind, and that I am ALWAYS here for them when other people don’t teach their kids to be kind to us. I will never regret that as imperfect as I am my days were spent teaching five people that Christ loves them and what he sacrificed for them.
I will never regret bathing my baby in the sink.
So, although it’s been ages since I went out in public showered and put together, or had a break to eat or pee or exist, and I can’t remember what it’s like to hold a normal conversation, and as hard as my days can sometimes be… I shouldn’t feel those things now, either. What I’m doing is incredibly important. It matters.
Today, in the midst of my exhaustion and in spite of Monday, I am so grateful for this calling that is so wonderfully mine.