As I struggled with motherhood and the mess and the work and the laundry and the cost, and trying to make a nine person family work in a four person family culture, it occurred to me.
I could have been nearly done with this.
I could have stopped at two. I’d have a nearly ten and an eleven year old, have stopped there, been done with diapers and teaching children to read and rebrushing their not-so-brushed teeth and washing the same sheets for the fifth time this week and cutting up meat into tiny bite size pieces. We could be done with naps and working around them, with car seats and crying over hair tangles and wiping noses and spilled milk. Wiping butts could so be a thing of the past.
I could have been past that.
I could have had quiet. We could have afforded lessons and been running to and fro to round out the two children we have. My gas budget would have been a fraction of what it is. We could fit into a “normal” sized vehicle. We wouldn’t have spent the last two weeks rearranging the living room to hold more so that the fireplace room could become the boys’ bedroom. We wouldn’t have a shed full of plastic storage totes holding clothes for each child to grow into, kept from the child before, to use again.
I could have been breathing a bit easier.
We’d have been past toddlerhood. Scrubbing the high chair would have been a thing of the past. The floor that demands mopping at least twice a week would stay cleaner and require less maintenance. The blocks and legos and trains and coloring books would have found other homes. I wouldn’t have toothpaste constantly taking up residence in the texture on the bathroom walls. I wouldn’t have to make double, triple, even quadruple recipes.
I cannot imagine.
I wouldn’t have a four year old who corners me every time I try to walk anywhere, needing a hug. I wouldn’t have a three year old who stretches me with his fiery personality and stubborn will that has me on my toes, keeping me constantly dreaming up solutions to teach him in a language he understands. I wouldn’t have seen the confused look in my seven year old eyes when I attempted to explain a large division problem without the teacher book and known I was still not ready to teach such concepts without Mr. Saxon to help me along. I wouldn’t have laughed at the antics of my six year old making up words to Joy to the World this morning as she realized she didn’t know all the words. I wouldn’t have gotten snuggles from my ten month old who just woke up from her four hour nap.
I would have missed all of this.
Life isn’t easy. It’s pretty hard, actually. I couldn’t even write this post without putting the computer down to correct, train – and place a dear child in bed to learn, again, self control. But miss all this? No. Not for a second. Each day, as my children display the unique personalities God gave them, I can’t imagine life without them. These dear little people are the future. The good days, the bad days – they all stretch me, stretch them, mold us, shape us, and maybe, hopefully, make us more like Christ.
We don’t do lessons away from home outside of co-op. We can’t. My sanity can’t, my budget can’t. But we have siblings that round each other out, buff off the rough edges, far more gently than any other peer would. We have work and play, exercise patience, love, and grace, and they have lots of friends in the form of siblings. Most of my work is done at home, and it’s good and right for us. We don’t always get to science and history in our homeschool. And yet, just now, I heard my seven year old explaining to my four year old explaining what a reflection on the wall is and is called and how it’s caused. The gaps are filled, grace abounds, and we discuss what MLK Jr. day is over dishes when someone sees it on the calendar this month and the discussion leads to another discussion of Rosa Parks over mopping.
Life is crazy. It’s busy. It’s frustrating. It’s exhausting. It’s organized and disorganized and chaos and noise. If you had shown me a picture of my life before we got to this point, I’d have shook my head and backed away. I couldn’t have done it. But. Grace for today. Strength for tomorrow. And forgiveness for the mistakes.
It isn’t easy. It’s worthwhile. It’s worth doing. But it isn’t easy.