Tuesday, February 19, 2008
“Um, excuse me,” said the woman next to us, “your son just bowled in our lane.” While trying to help six-year-old Priscilla garner at least enough momentum to shove her own magenta bowling ball toward the neat rows of pins without it stopping short of its target and rolling back to her, five-year-old Benji had gone ahead and started his own game wherever the heck he wanted. Two-year-old Mary, meanwhile, had found a Skittle to eat in an ashtray. It went on like that for an hour and a half – congratulatory high-fives for each turn played out in surreal-like slow motion interspersed with clenched-teeth orders to stop army crawling under chairs and reaching hands into the 30 year-old vending machine advertising yellowed with age Shasta cans for a dollar. I think we had fun …I mean, I certainly hope so.
I wonder every once in a while what my kids will remember about me, about the quality of their childhood overall. I have visions of them as teenagers grumbling amongst their friends about curfews, after school jobs and overly rigid restrictions. I try to assure myself that this is normal and most certainly to be expected, but next thing you know I am laboring over pancakes poured strategically to look like Mickey Mouse, I am intentionally padding my resume. “But what can we do all together that is really special - and free,” I’ll ask my husband, imagining sing-a-longs, daisy chains and six delectable pairs of matching denim overalls. “What I can provide them with, as their mother, to keep them happy?”
“Don’t you think being with your kids is more important than getting exercise?” grumbled Priscilla under her breath when told she couldn’t practice reading to me at that moment. Ugh, the weight of guilt made each leg lift, squat, and lunge feel painfully self-centered and shameful, but I finished the workout anyway because…well, to be honest if it’s not this thing, or that thing, it’s another. I am always making choices I can’t be sure about - trying to separate love from perfection.
“Babydoll, this world’s not going to cater to your preferences and you and I both need to accept that. I want for you patience, thankfulness, and fortitude more, much more than immediate gratification. Someday, (gulp) you may despise me for this; making faces of disgust that will tear me to pieces and I will second-guess a stern and seemingly unfair decision. I pray now for the strength, for the faith to think eternally, to stay open for Christ to pour through me and quench your thirst like pure water gushing forth from a rusted out spigot."
Elijah’s birthday is on Saturday and we can’t afford the twelve guest pizza party he was wishing for. I wanted to, of course, I tried to stretch and strain our budget but then it hit me that sometimes its okay to say no. We will gather as a family and joyfully celebrate his nine years on this earth as our son, sharing memories that have grown sweeter over time. We will cultivate a conviction that life itself is a gift to be treasured and offered back as a first fruit to Him that granted it. I will probably bake the cake a tad too long; there will certainly be squabbles over who gets the icing laden corner piece. I will reprimand for rowdiness and cheer enthusiastically over blown out candles. And he will know without a doubt that he is cherished…
I mean, I certainly, certainly hope so.