Today was an exercise in opposites, much the way parenting is generally.
My oldest, like his mom, typically takes some warming up in the morning to get going. Though he knows perfectly well how to make his own breakfast, he’ll sit and read, and read, and read some more in the mornings until, all of a sudden, he realizes he’s haaaangry! Then it’s all, “Mom, when’s breakfast? What’s for breakfast? Do we have anything to eat? Don’t we have any food? Are we ever gonna go to the grocery store?” And then begins the bickering with his sister. When this happens, the morning usually devolves into me putting on my cranky pants because the two oldest are wearing theirs.
This morning, however, made me believe that people indeed can change.
When Hubs is on duty and I’m running solo at night, I usually have a hard time sleeping. Last night was a case in point, but I blame it on Amazon Prime and my inability to moderate my TV watching into the wee hours. So, when I got up late this morning, it was like my brain was trudging through sludge as I puzzled over the apparently difficult tasks of heating the kettle and cleaning out the French press.
Meanwhile, Bubba is sitting at the kitchen table, reading and beginning to bicker with Spunky, who has an uncanny ability to push his buttons. I started pulling on my cranky pants and mentally fortifying myself for the kid fighting to come, but was interrupted by a knowing question in a singsongy voice: “Mo-om, did you notice?”
Notice what? That reminds me, I’m thinking I might need a new glasses prescription. Oh wait, those are just the backs of my eyelids glacially sliding their way back down.
“Mom, did you see?” I’m awake! Wait, what?
I look over to see Bubba triumphantly put away his history book, mark something in his bullet journal, and pull out a new handwriting worksheet.
This kid, whom I never thought would start school without my repeated prompting and many prayers, had finished history, started his handwriting, and already made and eaten his own breakfast. Yesterday he wasn’t even awake by this time.
See, people can change.
The day continued in this lovely fashion. The girls played upstairs while I did uninterrupted math with Bubba. The baby actually napped. Like, in a crib. For two whole hours. (She’s getting so big *tear.)
Over a lunch of homemade mac & cheese, we read the next chapter in this truly delightful book, The Burgess Bird Book for Children, and colored some drawings to look like the sparrows we met in the chapter. (*Side Note: now is the perfect time of year to start reading this book, and Audubon.org has incredible pictures.)
Then we explored some trails near our house to see if we could find any Chipping, Tree, or Vespers Sparrows. No luck, but there was plenty of weird fungus growing out of trees and everywhere else it seemed. We need to find out more about that. Just got this book in the mail, and it looks promising. We ran an errand, and Hubs even brought home dinner and cooked, too, a real rarity on a weekday.
Like I said, the day was dreamy.
We got everyone to bed, then, a few hours later, as I was checking on everyone before I went to bed, I smelled poop. “Probably just a stinky diaper pail that needs to go out,” I thought.
Not even close.
A certain Toddler Who Shall Remain Nameless had spent two or three nights sleeping in her apparently bad influence of a sister’s room and all of a sudden has now discovered how to undress herself and get poop all over. And be asleep.
Naked, poopy, and sleeping.
I have watched with that glorious bit of high and mighty sympathy as other friends dealt publicly on Facebook with their toddlers who smeared poo on walls, undressed each other, and did all sorts of other “gross” artwork. Now I am that person. Now I really do feel sorry for them, mostly because God saw fit to teach me empathy in a very real way.
But you know what? Like I said, today was an exercise in opposites.
I bathed said toddler, who was surprised to be awakened in the middle of the night for a bath, but handled it with gobs of Trust in Mommy. No one cried. All the other kids stayed sleeping. Hubs was even here to change the sheets.
Poo got smeared, but it did not hit the fan. Instead, I spent the end of the evening snuggled and rocking with my Sweet One’s wet hair matted to my cheek, savoring the scent of baby shampoo, and listening to her gentle breath become a soft snoring. That part was pretty dreamy, too.
I shared these stories not only because I think stories about my kids are funny, but to illustrate the dual nature of parenting. Much of parenting is down and dirty, in the poo kind of “work,” but then you come up for air and all of a sudden, it’s five or ten years down the road and your diaper disaster child has become self-sufficient in all new ways—like making breakfast and starting school on their own. We can’t claim the credit for their successes, but we certainly have the right to thank God for using us as His hands and feet in raising up these young ones in His care.
Image credit: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr This post contains affiliate links.