It was a very long summer here at Amy’s House FCC. We had lots of unexpected challenges, and it was definitely not what summer is cracked up to be (you know, peaceful, restful, lazy). So, to be honest, I was disappointed.
There’s nothing I love more than summer days – putting up pools and sprinklers and letting the kids run wild. Maybe throwing in some bubbles or shaving cream to make a big fun mess that can be hosed down before we go back in, hot and tired, for lunch and a nice long afternoon rest.
But we didn’t have nearly enough of those dreamy days, and now we’re unceremoniously thrown into the back to school grind. It’s been an especially hard September because we had lots of goodbyes this year. I graduated three kids for the first time – that’s half my group! It meant big changes for everyone and we’re all still adjusting to the new schedule.
So while I was incredibly busy and stressed out and not feeling very relaxed or summery, it seemed like part of me was always searching for some peace. My schedule doesn’t allow for yoga classes, or long walks, or lunch with friends. So most of the time I have to find those moments during my workday.
Have you ever tried to find a peaceful moment among eight children, and at least one of them is usually crying?
The good news is that I did have a few over the past months. One was on a sunny morning when the boys were involved in one of their imaginary sagas. I love these. They roam all over the house and yard, and some places are hideouts, and some are bad guy lairs, and some are ships, and anything can happen.
On this day they were inventing an awesome dinosaur battle game, and they had to run to the big tree, put their weapons on it, and countdown from three to summon their spaceship.
One of the reasons I love these games is because of Michael Gurian, who points out in his book “The Wonder of Boys” how happy boys are when they have a purpose (does that remind you of your husband, anyone?). He says that boys are not only happy when they have a quest, but in fact they need one to feel good about themselves. So as I watch them play, I know the boys are not only being wonderfully creative but they are also developing some real self-esteem, and that is a lovely thing to have happen on my watch.
As I thought about all these things, the baby was snoozing in the swing, the twins were happily blowing bubbles, there was blue sky and a light breeze, and I sat under the apple tree, smiling.
Another perfect moment came courtesy of my very own Younger Son. I had taken the whole group on a field trip to one of their favorite school playgrounds. It has not one, not two, but three separate play areas. And they, of course, are located at three opposite points of the building. And we, of course, had to visit them all.
I had the infant with me and she needed a bottle so I would just get everyone playing and myself sitting somewhere with the baby when one of them would decide it was time to move to the next playground. (To his credit, Older helped round everybody up and sit them on the bench to wait for me, with the stroller, bringing up the rear.)
Still. You can imagine by move #3 I was getting pretty cranky at chasing along after them dragging the baby, bottle, burp cloth, stroller, and our picnic cooler.
As I busted out the snacks for everyone they decided it would be so nice to sit in the shade of the gazebo instead of the tree I picked. I had reached my breaking point. “I will not move again!” I bellowed.
But Younger just took charge of the situation. He went right over and got the stroller, picked up the water bottles, carried the bag, and started handing out the snacks to everybody.
I was surprised, proud, and honestly almost cried because someone was taking care of me.
I gave Younger a perfect moment so I have to be fair and share one of Older’s before signing off. We were at a family reunion where seven kids from age 9 years (Older Son) to 11 months were wandering around. At one point I went out looking for them because it had become disconcertingly quiet. I was getting ready to stop something dangerous or inappropriate, grumbling to myself, I can’t even sit down to dessert without these kids causing some problem…
Older came cruising past and saw the look on my face. “Don’t worry Mom,” he said, “I’m taking care of all the kids out front.”
Sure enough, he had every child except the baby on the front lawn, and they were all engaged in a game, and they were all riveted by whatever it was. My sons were leading the pack. The littles were delighted, agog, hanging on their every word, and having a hell of a good time.
So if I know when to stop and look, I’ve learned how to find these really great moments in all the chaos of my life. And I’m so lucky I have them.