The last four hours have been over the top. I sit here typing with the hope that in writing out my stress I will feel lighter--enough to fall asleep eventually--and that God will impart some wisdom and bring verses to mind that will soothe my mothering soul.
I had it in my mind today that I would do all the teacher-directed schooling tasks early and then devote the rest of the day, until dinner prep, to finishing up the spring clothing switch. The Goodwill bags have been gotten into so often by my four year old that they had gaping holes and needed to be gone through again, lest she put something in there I still needed.
Then I had to put the finishing touches on a hand-me-down box of clothes for a family of six at the AWANA church, as well as wash seven loads of clothes because I'd gotten behind and didn't want to leave anything out of the hand-me-down box that might be useful for this family.
My clothing switch dragged on and on because spring couldn't decide if it really wanted to arrive. Temps kept flip flopping so I had to keep sweatshirts and sweaters in the closets and drawers, prolonging the process.
Today I decided all the short-sleeved shirts and shorts were going in, and if we freeze, we freeze. Keeping a bare minimum of warm clothing around, I told myself I just couldn't take seeing clothes everywhere another day.
The truth is we have too many clothes, but our large yard doesn't drain well so mud is part of the landscape...especially in the spring and fall. It isn't unusual for the kids to have two changes a day, or more for the little one, so multiple outfits are a must.
And then there were the three letters I was working on with Bible coloring sheets for our Compassion children. I usually write them online every 14 days, which is quite convenient, but once a month I try to send something to color, or a drawing lesson copied from art books.
Peter had plans today too. He got four subjects done and then set about making bee traps. He cut used water bottles in half and put apple slices in them. Then he made two homemade ant farms. In the afternoon, Lexie--his partner in all things bug and snake and frog--got home from school and helped him with his nature-observing schemes.
A neighbor, working in her yard, suddenly screamed, startling the kids.
They all went to the chain-link fence, concerned.
"Oh, just a snake", she assured, rather embarrassed.
Lexie jumped over the fence, telling her, "I'll get it!"
We just had a garter snake around for four days...something Peter caught in our backyard. Surprisingly, it was tame as could be and all the neighbor kids enjoyed it. It seemed to revel in the attention, I tell you.
Naturally, they assumed every garter snake was like their Skippy, whom Peter had to let go.
Without going into more detail, let me just say that the snake bit Peter as he and Lexie tried to remove it from the neighbor's yard. It was nearing dinnertime by now and I had to stop everything and research what to do.
On top of that, Lexie wouldn't leave the snake alone. I envisioned her getting bit as well and her grandparents knocking on my door and shouting at me.
Not that Peter cared in the least about getting bit, since it didn't hurt much and he knew garter snakes to be harmless. But he also knew by my rather-stressed countenance that I wasn't convinced we could treat it like a scratch.
Lexie continued to pursue the snake alone, despite my warnings out the back window that her mother probably wouldn't like her snake-hunting ways.
She can be maddening; she doesn't listen well and she gets as obsessed as Peter does--perhaps even more so.
As I applied first aid, in the kitchen, to Peter's bite, Lexie managed to catch the snake and put it in one of our empty tanks. I was not happy with the neighbor, who in no way tried to stop Lexie, even after Peter suffered a bite. She just stood there, at a distance, much amused by the whole thing, still hoping to do her gardening without the garter as company.
I finally convinced Lexie to go home, telling her Peter was in for the night...for snake-bite observation. (And tomorrow he'll need a tetanus booster). Sensing I wasn't letting her in no matter how much she pressed, she told me she would come and get her snake tomorrow, to put it in her sanctuary.
Yes, she comes up with things like that all the time. Amusing, endearing and maddening all at the same time.
I read some more and decided Peter was in no imminent danger, and by this time dinner prep was late.
Meanwhile, another crisis of a different kind. The 2010 World Book Encyclopedia DVD ROM I bought for school gave Paul fits about loading on the new Windows 7 computer we bought. (Windows XP is far easier to load software onto). Paul was working on this project during the whole snake fiasco and he'd gotten as far as he could because the same error message kept coming up.
Turns out it loaded quickly onto our 10-year-old XP computer...the same one that is making groaning sounds and is about to die. It even outlasted our 7-year-old computer, which died last month.
I began to make dinner, not believing how stressful the day had been.
Then the children broke the playroom blinds. They won't keep their hands off the blinds............!
So now, as I type, I'm hoping for a release of some sort. Children can be so difficult, stubborn, destructive, annoying.
When I discovered the broken blinds, I flipped out, telling them I was out of anything resembling patience and Daddy would have to take care of them for the rest of the night.
I. was. done.
I wanted to drive anywhere that wasn't here...away from this laundry and this snake bite and these neighborhood kids and these blinds and these worthless computers. I love my children and they are my life...but tonight I didn't want anything to do with them.
Until I spent time, hands busy in the soapy sink, washing dishes and contemplating mothering.
Husband got home at seven and took over with the kiddos...after letting the snake go. (I'll hear it from that Lexie girl tomorrow.)
Meanwhile, back in my suds I spoke to my Father.
Oh, Lord. This is so hard. This mothering. How do I do it well? How do I do it gently? How do I do it skillfully? Lovingly? Will they ever listen and keep their hands off things that break easily? Will they always be so destructive and maddening?
He didn't answer exactly.
But my heart did melt. That was something. My mind and soul filled with love again, and once again I wanted everything to do with these four curious, beautiful, maddening children.
I don't know what tomorrow will bring exactly, but I doubt it will be any more relaxing than today, what with the usual whining and terror about immunizations (Mary needs them too).
I'm looking for a renewal of patience, humor, calmness. What Scripture is needed most right now, Lord?
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
2 Chronicles 15:4
But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them.
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.
And your day, dear reader friend, went far smoother I hope?