People observing us with three little ones invokes an array of questions and comments.
Fair enough... Imagine us walking around town. Our stroller looks like this: Jack's riding in his carseat; Camille rides on top by the stroller handles. In our basket lives our full LLBean bag (This bag, a present from Jeremy and Emily, is a non-negotiable when we go out. It catches everything my hands can't. Sippy cups, abandoned socks and shoes, library books, you name it. I've even put Camille inside for a lift a time or two.) Catherine walks along close by. I'll have to post a picture of this. It's pretty funny.
I'll often hear some well-meaning person look at us and chortle, "You've got your hands full!" I usually smile and reply something like, "There's nothing more I'd want in my hands."
I appreciate genuine statements and questions. Megan asked one Thursday.
Thursdays are student workdays at Ravencrest Chalet (the Bible school where we live and Erik works). For the past two years since we have been at RC, we have been thankful beyond words to have a girl come over for a few hours every Thursday to help in anyway I might need it. They have watched the girl(s) so I could nap, made cookies, accompanied me to the grocery store, cleaned, and best of all, taken the girls outside for a walk (I am convinced one of God's greatest gifts for parents is the great outdoors).
Laura from Pennsylvania, Alicia from Florida, My from Sweden (pictured), Candace from Canada have been more than a "help"; they have been a part of our lives. Their investment in our children and help to me has been invaluable. (Girls, we miss you all!!)
This year, we've had Megan from Canada to be a part of our lives for a few hours each Thursday, and we are so grateful for her. This Thursday workday started out so peaceful... all three of our children were napping. Megan and I had a chance to catch up a little before Catherine, then Jack, and finally Camille woke up.
I didn't need to go grocery shopping. I didn't even have to make dinner! (A family from church had organized meals to be brought over for a few weeks since Jack had been hospitalized with RSV.) I glanced at the clock; it was too late for me to take either Catherine or Camille out on a special date. I looked outside, wondering if Megan could take the girls out for a walk. It was snowing... mammoth snow flakes that would do more than stay on your nose and eyelashes. These snowflakes would bury you alive and we discover you again with the spring thaw.
Tallying up all these factors, I chose to have a day in with the kids and Megan. I don't remember how things progressed. Somewhere in between setting up the kids with play-doh in our dining room and feeding Jack and conversation with Megan and the girls getting louder and seeing snow - no longer white but play-doh-colorful falling all over our dining room, I realized we had now entered that state of existence called OutOfControl.
I was tired from mastitis. My instruction to the girls sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher. The girls decided to have a loud contest in addition to their throwing contest. Jack decided to join in the loudness competition. Megan - observing this - asked, "Does it ever get hard?"
I started to cry. Yes, it does. It's tough having three children who need you for every part of their existence, every moment of their day... You get no weekends off, no holiday time. Even if it was just the practical, physical stuff (like feeding, changing diapers, bathing, clothing), it would be hard... but the fact that they can get tired, hurt, upset, scared, and angry adds a whole other dynamic. Multiply that by three. Square that because they are so little and are still trying to sort it all out.
I am honored to open the door of our home to the students. Anyone who comes into our home, or who is brave enough to have us into theirs, will see within a few moments raw truth: we are a flawed family. That's ok with us. We don't want to move up the scale of parenting excellence. We want to grow more dependent and available for Christ to live his life in and through us as parents to our children and as lovers of each other.
When the dust settles and when the noise quiets down, we hope the students will also take away with them this fact: we are a family who needs and calls out to God for His wisdom to know and love each other. We hope this, too, for our littlest students.