Yesterday a friend from my Yakima days shared something on Facebook that I immediately felt was speaking directly to me. It said:
Love one another and you will be happy.
It is as simple and difficult as that.
I don’t write about it here very often because it seems like if you want to find tragic, angry, bitter posts there are plenty of outlets, but the truth is I often get worried that if I don’t do things in a certain way than I am failing. Twisting my perspective to consider that by simply loving I am doing it right is revelatory.
Lately things have been challenging. Our child care situation is dicey and by dicey, I mean we have none. I have been managing to get Briar to school and entertain the other girls until nap time, after which I work furiously. I churn out copy, send emails, and manage multiple projects. When the girls wake we compromise, we make lunch together and then I start them on an art project so that I can work alongside them, pecking away at the computer and rotating to ooh and ah and help with the cutting, gluing, sparkling, molding…
It’s a goopy mess.
Then when the sun starts to slip behind the towering trees that skirt our property Sean comes home. I imagine it will get easier, but he brings home the weight of deadlines, challenges and exhaustion. We all collide and clang in need and restlessness. Dinners can be a trial, so we bolt. The prospect of getting everyone out seems like a chance at contentment.
You know where this is going, right? Oh, but the uphill battle of an outing with 3 kids, a tired dad and a weary mom. The kids jockey for our attention, I try to pull details of the day out of Sean, his voice is muffled by the girls, I ask him to keep going, the noise from the backseat builds, he barks, I bristle. Spirits slump.
We soldier on, seeking an engagement that will allow everyone a taste of what they need. Sean and I speak in sideways whispers:
Me: “They are trying.”
Sean: “Not hard enough.”
Sean: “That’s not ok, why are they screeching like that?”
Me: “Honey, they want us to watch.”
I don’t mean to paint myself as a saint, I’m not. Nor is Sean always the exasperated parent. It’s just that he and I assume our positions in the rut just like the girls. Finley bosses, Briar insults and Avery pouts. Sean judges and I defend. Sometimes he ends up defending as I judge him, it’s relentless and self-defeating, but to that spot we often return. Eventually we find our way back to calm, the girls tiring and murmuring a soft thank you, Sean and I collapse, cuddle and forgive.
What I’ve been realizing lately is that while we are in this incredibly, challenging moment-in-time, this effort is not what I’ll remember when the dust settles. I won’t remember having to monitor the scowl on the face of the woman in the produce section, obviously annoyed that my children are speaking. I’ll forget the peril we feel as the girls clamber on rock walls or balance on logs. It isn’t the sharpness of our voices at the restaurant table that will stay.
A merciful gift in this journey is that memories rise. The honeyed images of the life we’ve lived loose themselves of the chains of effort. It’s the tinkling of their laughter, the bouncing delight of their faces pushing away with exuberant squeals from Sean’s whiskery kisses. Muscle memory will recall scooping each girl into a spin, reaching for Sean’s hand and the fluid bows to kiss sleeping heads and then kneel by their beds, inhaling their scent and thanking our lucky stars for the blessing we’ve been given to share these sticky, tiring days. The things my mind misses as I live it, my heart will remember until the end of my days.