I came upstairs after John had tucked the girls into bed to see a suspicious glow seeping through the crack in the bedroom door. There Millie sat, oblivious to me and all else, reading Scrooge and Disney comic books in her top bunk while her sisters dozed below. This clandestine affair, of course, was conducted with Papa's full sanction and great delight. She's a girl in whom his blood flows swiftly.
I'm not one for anticipating Mother's Day, though with all the advertising hooplah, it's sometimes hard not to in spite of deciding this. Expectation for the extraordinary most often leads to dissatisfaction with the ordinary, which, though ordinary, is no less full of beauty and the extra-ordinary if one is open to see it. It's just harder to see when you're looking for something Other.
Mother's Day was ordinary and good and full of dishes and girls to wash. We went to church, we came home and lounged, John blessed me by washing the morning's dishes, making lunch, and grocery shopping so that I wouldn't have to do it after the next day's sonogram, and things whirred along very much As Usual.
That is, until Millie whispered to John, and he smiled and said, "Go ahead! Maybe Mom can help you." Millie immediately ran outside, returning with two fistfuls of freshly picked lilacs ("for Mother's Day, even though I give you some every day," said she). When she donned the chef's hat we'd picked up for free from an ended garage sale the day before, I knew I was in trouble. I was banished to the living room, and she proceeded to order the younger two about like a chef on fire. "Bring me honey-brownsugar-marshmallows-raisins-
crispricecereal-water-and so it went until 20 minutes later, they'd single-handedly created a a bowlful of Love For Mother and a gooey mess in the kitchen I'd just finished cleaning.
Millie named her creation aptly. "It's called Sugar Delight, Mama," she said with sticky lips, and we scooped out some for all of us. Buster ate a double portion.
Overheard in the frenzy of culinary creation:
"My recipe needs a tad of salt," Millie muttered as she retrieved the GIANT CARTON of salt from the cupboard and began to tip it toward the bowl. I did briefly step in at this point to hand her a small salt shaker, but only for the sake of the dish's integrity.
"Since I'm the cook, I'm giving them special treats." (This gleefully said as she stuffed the faces of her loyal--no wonder!-- minions with marshmallows and chocolate chips.)
What I'm ashamed of is that after thanking, hugging, and kissing their beaming faces...AND eating a small bowl of Sugar Delight, I had to go outside for some quiet in which to adjust my rotten perspective before I came in to clean the kitchen again. Motherhood allows such joy in the form of children, and I was short-sighted and shallow enough to wish that it had also come in the form of a sparkling kitchen and a lazy mama. When I see, really see, what this calling of motherhood is-- what lies beneath, beside, between, all around, and stuffed in the ordinary cracks of each day-- I am utterly smitten by the glorious truth. It's all too easy to see the common tasks that each day resurrects from the day before, but these are nothing. They're only the minor trappings of a worthy and beautiful life, one with a value that endures, with God's preservation, to and through the end of our lives and the lives of our children and their children's children.
Look at the pride on this girl's face. It's a look worth more than ten million Hallmark Mother's Days, and God has heaped John and I with blessings. May He give us the grace to raise them rightly so that they go forth in joy to live His truth.
I've posted the recipe for this gooey goodness on buildabelly.
Have at it!
Three orphan snapshots from Sunday, after tumbling out of the van but before walking into the house:
Annika watches a plane and the ghost of a daytime moon. ("The plane! It almost ran right into the moon!")
Susannah scans her stockpile for the finest offering.
And she brings me only the best.
It's a walk of only a few minutes.
This time, though, I drove there and reclined in the van while the girls ran around. Here Millie urgently seeks permission to climb the apple tree.
And Annika faithfully waits to catch Susannah at the bottom of the slide.
Don't blame me. The weather's sublime, and there's no other place to go.
Though I call it sublime, threatening clouds did hang in the distance, so they begged to take their 'brellas.
The rain didn't arrive until after we came home, but umbrellas are useful for so much more. They used them for wind-sailing and sun-shading and other activities of which I was not sure.
From these next few snapshots, one could surmise that Susannah always plays alone. This is simply not true. (But she looks cute alone, hm?)
I think these two are pretty cute, too. (You all miss out, but Millie was preparing to launch herself over the pole to swing by her knees until her face flamed red.)
And here's the outcast again, so very alone.
She was actually watching these two. Millie was shouting, "SUMAC! SUMAC!" over and over again as she ran toward the trees, so I honored her excitement with a snack of sumac berries when we reached them.
I observed Susannah and her shadow playing together by the fence one evening. First, they whispered together about the best sort of silent mischief.
Susannah discreetly handed her shadow something, which the shadow (butterfingers!) promptly dropped.
So Susannah took charge, skillfully plunking gravel stone by stone through a chink in the neighbor's fence, while the shadow watched in round-eyed admiration.
Before anyone congratulates me on thoughtful mothering for taking the girls parkward for a picnic, I should mention that it was Mildred's idea upon seeing their "picnic-y" outfits. This idea germinated during a morning filled with two weepy littles and my stir-crazy grumps, so when she sprang the idea, I knew it would be good to get out of the house. It was fun, too. Thanks, Millie, sweet!
The highlight of the picnic fare (which consisted of nothing more than what we eat at home) was the punch! We don't drink bright red elixir often, so understandably, it took center stage.
There were also bananas for gorillas who tote elephant backpacks,
rides on a tire,
and bugs and butterflies in abundance.
And all this while I sat on a quilt in the shade. I think we should go again today...
On an unsuccessful trip to Dollar General to buy Millie her own watch ("a wristwatch, please"), the girls shared a stationary mount for many minutes. I'm always glad that they find so much fun on these unmoving beasties while the coins in my pocket jingle. Yes, Mr. Tate, there's also a twinkle in my eye.
At last count, I believe modified bed rest (such as it is when I practice it properly) had a grand total of 2 points, and that thanks to two delicious meals provided by thoughtful friends. Well, since that time, the score has increased yet more. My friend Rebecca and her children hopped up (a few hours' worth of hopping) from Pennsylvania to stay at her parents' house and descend on us for three days of conversation, cleaning, and meal-making. She's crazy-- you should know this-- and has strong Martha tendencies, talents, and abilities, so having her step into our house three days in a row meant only good things for our household. She livened our days with conversation, she took four heaping baskets of laundry to the laundromat and folded them before she came back (I don't even do that!) and then she sent the children and I outdoors while she mopped and vacuumed and scrubbed the bathtub (and I don't even do that! ....or haven't in a good, long time). She slipped two yummy meals she'd prepared ahead of time into our fridge and then sailed away on Friday, leaving a clean house and food in the oven. It was like having Mary Poppins over, only loads better, because Mary Poppins doesn't clean or make food or let me sit on the couch and blab at her for hours on end.
Here are the three pictures I have from those three days. I took them while she stood in my bathtub scrubbing off a month or two of grime. How's that for friendship?!
Millie and Corynn as industrious elves.
And Corynn by herself, looking like a buttercup.
*** BREAKING NEWS: I recently received a package from a Rose of Sharon that made me so happy that modified bed rest's score immediately crashed through the roof. Sugar, books, words, pretties, and the coolest maternity shirt, to be seen swaddling a belly in a shot I'll snap whenever the sun shines again. Tomorrow, Sun?