On that first day while she was gone and my younger two were napping, I sat on the couch with my Bible, by myself. It felt like a small miracle to be alone. I teared up with emotion, and all of the mixed sentiments of the day... worry, exhaustion, gratitude, relief, sadness at witnessing the arrival of yet another year.
That moment sitting on the couch was a healing moment. There was peace in my home, and I was allowed some space in a frantic world to process all of my emotional extremes. The moment ended shortly thereafter as the baby awoke early from his nap and refused to go back down. But in those minutes spent reflecting on our summer, I felt a huge sense of relief that we were exiting it and all the chaos that accompanied it. Summer is a wonderful time of fun and freedom, but we are all ready to have the reigns pulled back restoring some sense of order and routine in our lives, if for no other reason then our ability to once again enjoy occasionally breaking the routine.
At times, parenting three children is one of the most stressful things I have ever done. I can only imagine what it is like to have four, or six, or more. It brings multi-tasking to a whole new level, like trying to have a different conversation with five people at once giving them each your undivided attention. Take any serene moment, and there is an equally disastrous moment unpredictably lurking behind it. Like yesterday afternoon when we were all playing nicely in the backyard, engaged in our respective happy tasks, and all at once one child has thrown sand into the eyes of another child. The child with sand in her eyes is screaming in pain while the other child is rebelling with the knowledge she is waiting to be disciplined. Meanwhile the baby has discovered a nest of ants and is quite literally covered in them. The disciplined child is sent inside where she has an accident in the bathroom. As the meltdowns occur, everyone also appears to be both tired and hungry. Only 60 seconds have passed since the world was a place of calm. Now all is calamity.
It is difficult to know what to tackle first. I find myself just wanting a little help. Why is no one helping me? Why are there suddenly so many tasks to complete and not possibly enough minutes in the day to complete them while caring for these young people? and caring for my husband? and sometimes caring for myself? It is the feeling of being overwhelmed by all of the things that need to be done and the truth that I am completely incapable of doing them all at once, let alone doing them at all.
In that frantic moment I do not remember that God is my help. No, I am too busy being angry that my daughter has peed on the floor while she was having a tantrum, and being frustrated that my other daughter doesn't know how to communicate with me when she is in pain, and being worried that my baby is getting bitten by ants or choking on a pebble because I left him outside. In that frantic moment I succumb to the lies that I cannot do it. I have forgotten the truth that God is my ever-present help. He hasn't left me, or you, alone in the overwhelming present. He has not fallen asleep while we are left to tend to the mess.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills--
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.
In that healing moment on the couch, relief flooded me as I remembered that I do have help. There will be plenty more overwhelming moments in my future. But they will be peppered by moments of peace, in which I have space to remember, and hopefully internalize, the truth.
It is ridiculous, of course, to entertain the notion that I don't have any help. Karsten himself has entered the very helpful stage of 11 months old. Below are some photos to prove just how helpful he truly is...
Here he is helping me load the dishwasher...
and helping me sort laundry...
and helping me reorganize the children's bookshelf...
and helping me clean the shower...
and helping me change the toilet paper roll, a favorite task of his...
and helping me dig in the garden, sampling plants as he goes to be sure that they are edible...
And just in case you have forgotten what it is like to live with small children in the house, this video is a reminder. How does anyone ever do it without this kind of helpfulness?