Bob and Ina were a middle-aged childless couple living in our small Kentucky town after being missionaries in a land across a sea. They were building a home where they would spend their retirement. On the day we were to go over to ooh and ahh about the place, before we left, Bob grumpily told me to make sure I kept the kids' grimy hands off their freshly painted walls.
Oh, I was indignant. AS IF. Anxious as I was back then about any signs of imperfection, I spent the entire walk-through tensely replacing curious childlike arms at sides lest they mar the precious walls.
Still striding purposefully forth as a young mum, I'd take walks with a baby strapped in the Bjorn carrier on my front, a toddler in the Tough Traveler backpack on my back, and a slightly larger toddler in the umbrella stroller. With all my energy consumed by carrying the weight of their world on my body, we walked and I taught them everything I could think of, everything we saw.
When my baby number four came along, I shifted from carrying the physical weight to carrying the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual weight. We had sent Valerie to kindergarten that fall because baby was due in late October and even I knew it might be a bit much to homeschool three (ages 5,4,and 3) with a baby on my hip.
Once kindergarten had concluded, I had my vim and vigor back and embarked on the formal process of educating our kids. Thinking that my kids were uniquely unique in their uniqueness and pretty much the top kids ever born on this small blue dot of God's green earth, we spelled and sang and memorized and walked and drew and added and read our way through the years.
The bombshell of our later-in-life baby who brought Down syndrome into our world threw me for the looped-de-est loop that ever sideswiped a mama bear. And I reeled for years, trying to continue to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.
Finally, finally, I learned to embrace the whole kit and kaboodle, the mess and inefficiency and snail-like pace of these bright, quick, beautiful, sentient beings.
Last night, as I set out to floss my teeth (take note, dentist person!), my special floss threaders for my lingual bar retainer were not where I had left them. Immediately, I suspected knew that Kepler was responsible for this reorganization, but he was asleep so no asky keppie tilly morning.
Years ago, I would have raged, furious that I couldn't leave a small item out on the counter and know it would be there next time I needed it. By now, though, I simply put my Kepler thinking cap on, and remembered that he likes to put miscellaneous items down the laundry chute.
I checked. No flosser threaders, but I found two barrettes that had been next to the f.t.'s and grew suspicious. Little Keppie has occasionally flushed a thing or two before.
Throughout, I was calm, open to what lesson I might be having the chance to learn, and accepting the change in plans that is part and parcel of children in our lives. The compassion section of my heart has had room to grow as the controlling section has faded.
Although not everyone gets to or wants to say yes to the chaos of children, ours have been part of my journey to acceptance, which, by the way, I'm still on.
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