Random Theories

Posting theories on the internet can be dangerous business.  Come up with an idea, do an unscientific poll of your workplace or Facebook friends, post the results as fact and people buy it.  Heck, if you have a good title, some people won’t even ask for proof.  Baby carrots, vaccines, infant sleep, nothing is immune.

I have this theory.  I am my own test group.  It goes like this: the gravitational pull of certain objects is enhanced by cleanliness.  For example: you wash your kitchen floor and inexplicably you spill peanut butter and oatmeal and a full cup of tea all over it.  Or, you put on a clean shirt and everything on your plate falls on it.  Clean cars are more highly subject to flying mud splatter; new cars to hailstones.

I have another theory:  mothers of newborns may make promises they intend to keep but can’t.  For example, we may publicly state that we’ll have a blog post up the following day and three weeks may go by without so much as logging in.  My solution, avoid specificity at all costs.  The word forthcoming is far superior to tomorrow.  It carries more literary weight, don’t you think?  So even though I’ve started another post for today tomorrow some day, I will say there is a new post forthcoming on a hard-to-navigate topic.

And since today is apparently the day for all things random, I leave you with this–my theory on practical floor washing instructions for families at various stages.

For the family without (small) children

hand wash

 

For the family with small children

spot clean

For the family with a newborn

do not wash

P.S. Anyone know the symbol for spot cleaning??

P.P.S  I did wash my floors yesterday.  I promise.  Well, the kitchen one at least.  The kids flooded washed the bathroom floor tonight with their bath.

P.P.P.S And if I told you my 6 year-old did the graphics for me, you’d probably believe me, wouldn’t you?

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Barf, Balloons and All

You know how you have these images in your mind of how certain events will turn out?  Birthday parties, family photos, airplane trips, doctor visits, music recitals, visits with those “put-together” families?  These events usually involve a public component and if you are a parent, a component where your children are “on display” to some extent.  Rarely do we spend the same amount of time planning and formulating images and expectations if it isn’t intended for public consumption somehow.

In our society with so much reality TV, Facebooking and Twittering where what used to be private is on display and is often doctored by clever cropping, flattering filters or at least redeemed by a witty caption, we often get confused.  We think that life is about posing, performing and presenting these great, apparently candid moments.

Often with two little ones, even posed, things don’t come out so well.  Exhibit A: attempted birthday photo of Mommy and her two boys.  That’s a framer.

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The problem is that we somehow equate our children being on display with our inner selves being on display.  Kids misbehaving = mommy fail.  Messy house = lazy parents.  Image = success.

This past Sunday, my sister and brother-in-law were dedicating my cute little nephew at church.  In the middle of an already busy morning, preparing breakfast for overnight guests and getting ready for hosting the post-church party, their older son succumbed to the stomach flu that was going around day care the week before.   This, of course, initiated a flurry of cleaning and a whole new level of stress.

So here she is, on Mother’s day, kneeling by the tub to scrub off her sick kid, preparing to host all these people and hardly having time to get herself dressed.  Not exactly the moment you want to scrapbook.

And I thought, “Oh boy, what a shame that she has to deal with this on baby dedication day.  And Mother’s Day of all days!”  And then the realistic side of me kicked in.  Of course, I feel bad for my sick little nephew, for the added stress of the day.  Of course it is too bad that my sister can’t sleep in and have everyone serve her breakfast on Mother’s Day.  Of course.

And yet, it struck me that these are the real moments.  These are precisely the moments in which we need to dedicate our children to God, whether kneeling in front of a church or kneeling in front of a bathtub.   We need His provision whether we are serving a citrusy quinoa salad to a crowd or spooning scrambled eggs on plastic plates and eating the leftovers out of the pan, standing over the sink.  We need to be clothed in grace on days when our hair gets done and on days we can’t find time to get out of pyjamas (And we want to get dressed, we really do… Sometimes.)  We need His healing when we are up to our elbows in barf and we were really planning on doing something else.  And we need healing just as much when our own hearts tell us it all depends on us and maybe we are messing it up really, really badly. We need extra grace for the moments that are full of fits and tears—our children’s and ours.

We don’t dedicate our children because we have it all together.  We say, in front of family and community that we are committed to being dependent on the God who lends us these wee ones in the first place.  We may look coiffed and pressed and certain, but really we aren’t.

See, this dedication thing and this parenting this is all about releasing.  All about letting go.  Dedications.  It is Abraham, weeping inwardly I imagine, as he ties his son on the altar.  It is Noah, praying the boat’s construction is trustworthy as his sons march on board.  It is Hanna, pouring out her heart to God, looking like a drunken fool.  And it is her following through and actually weaning him, and bringing him to the temple, coming back every year with a handmade robe, a little bigger than last year’s.  (I probably would have waited to wean the poor child until he was 12 to keep him close to me.  She was a brave soul.)   And in these cases, the ram appeared.  The boat stayed afloat.  Samuel grew up to be a powerful leader.  But those assurances don’t come right away, nor are we guaranteed them.  Scripture and our lives are full of other examples of times when things don’t work out so well.

See, we release our children and we simultaneously release our expectations of how God has to work. When we lay aside our expectations that we need to be perfect and that our kids need to be perfect and that God needs to fit into our perfect boxes, we allow room to grow and be changed.  We leave lots of room for, “I’m sorry.”  Lots of room for adventure.  We allow room to be challenged.

We choose to nurture our kids into who they can be instead of stifling them and cramming them into a proper little mould to feed our own ego.  And when we release these expectations, we remind ourselves also of our real audience is, and how much He really cares, mess and all.  In doing so, we invite room for real life and real grace.  Barf, balloons and all.

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Planes, Trains and Bicycles

It is 4:05 am on a Saturday morning and I have no little person to blame this wakefulness on.  It is all me.   I found myself very reasonably packing suitcases in my head…5 ½ months early.  Now I like to be organized and all, but this is just plain silly.

I didn’t do it intentionally.  My subconscious started it.

I started in the toy room, thinking of these beautiful gifts the kids received for Christmas. I don’t want to sell them or give them away yet but I know my husband won’t let me just put them all in storage.  We already have to figure out how to get a whole house down to one room.  So I debate shrink-wrapping plastic and think about the Alphabet Train and the Rescue Helicopter and wonder how much does a Lego plane weigh anyways?

And then I remember.  Lucas begged me to bring his bicycle back with us when we go.  The one he got in summer as an early birthday present from my parents.  The one that makes him light up like this.

IMG_3438The snow made me forget.

Ah yes, the bicycle.

And I said to him, “We’ll see what we can do.”  I said that to a 5 year old who still believes his Mommy is half-superhero.  It is practically a yes.

He made a list in his first week here of the things he wanted to bring to back with us and stuck it on the fridge.  It consisted of his bicycle, helmet (safety first!) fire truck, Lego and was modified thereafter to include every prized new possession.

A bicycle.

We did it before with a tricycle.  Let me tell you, handlebars were not meant to be packed in suitcases.  Maybe you already knew that.  You did, didn’t you?

I have about three suitcases mentally packed when I remember the bike.  It is enough to make me get out of bed.

At 4:00 am on Saturday morning, you don’t mince words with yourself.  You don’t try to pull the wool over your own bleary eyes.

I realize precisely why I am doing this.  I am trying to pack up this and bring in there and sneak it past customs.  In six suitcases.  And make it look like we’re not greedy or materialistic to the local family we live with.

They notice everything, you know.  New socks.  New shampoo.  New toys and protein powder and bicycles.

There is no hiding what we bring in.

But it isn’t about them.

I’m trying to bring here there.

I’m trying to make that this.

The toy room, the pantry, my wardrobe, the bicycle.
Cottage cheese, strawberries, whole wheat toast.
Apple sauce, cheddar cheese, mashed potatoes.
The Food Network, FaceBook.  Unlimited texting.
School for my kids. Plush carpet for working out.
Tap water you can drink.
Kleenex.
Grandparents.
Church.
It doesn’t fit.
My kids’ favourite foods.  My family.  Everything that is normal about life.

It just doesn’t fit.

I have to let go.

I just got here and already I’m thinking of letting go.

God grant me grace.