"I believe that motherhood is sacred ground where the Holy Spirit does some of his best work."
-Lisa Jo Baker
The other night we spent about an hour at Southdale's playground, a night where the weather felt more like fall than spring. It was cool and crisp, the perfect night for sweatshirts and shorts. My phone was left in the car, my camera left at home, and the four of us played hard until we realized it was a half hour past bedtime. We played hide-and-seek, practiced pumping on the swings, and ended the night in the huge green field behind the playground, kicking the soccer ball and chasing a squealing Mila in the damp, fragrant grass. After awhile, I sat on the edge of the black top and watched the three of them together, taking advantage of one of those rare five minute opportunities to just watch them, soak them up, and reflect on what it means to be their mom.
Lately, it seems we've been caught in the trap of thinking ahead. Our current right now feels busy and messy. I'm not sure if we are still attempting to find a routine after months of upheaval, or if our current season raising two active, sticky, and headstrong little people has left us overwhelmed and tired. Dinnertime is where it all seems to peak, as Mila starts whining the minute she sees food being prepared, and we rush to fill little plates, pour glasses of milk, and attempt to all land at the table around the same time, preferably before our food gets cold and before Mila starts throwing hers on the floor. We butt heads about how much Cruz should eat before he's excused, I get up a hundred times to grab a fork, the salt, or the ketchup, to which I sacrifice another white onesie and let Mila go to town because it's the only thing that will allow me five minutes of silence to eat. I want to throw in the towel the minute she begins to use the ketchup on her plate as shampoo, but we all laugh instead, because sometimes, that's just all you can do. And then I think to myself that someday, it's going to get easier. Mila will no longer want to lick ketchup from her fingers and Cruz will maybe eat better. They will both be old enough to entertain themselves while I find joy in preparing dinner again, setting the table, and lighting a candle. We'll sit down at the same time, talk about our days, and all contribute with clean up, clean up that will no longer involve taco meat smeared on the floor and raspberries stuck to the back of little legs.
But then, as I watch them on that big field of grass, at the school where Cruz will start Kindergarten in just over a year, I get short of breath knowing that someday, they'll be too big to take to the park after dinner. That someday, when they hurry through their meal and can't wait to be with friends or do something without us, that I will think back to those messy, hurried, ketchup in the hair dinners and long for one more night with those wild little ones around my table. Parenthood is like that, filled with raw emotions that consume every piece of your heart, that make you long for tomorrow but cling to your present, all at the very same time.
It was graduation weekend here this past weekend and my social media accounts were flooded with pictures of high school grads. Babies dressed in shiny caps and gowns, their arms wrapped around their parents'. And instead of paying attention to their faces this year, I looked at their moms and dads. I stared into their eyes, and saw everything that it means to be a parent. I saw pride and overwhelming love, all enveloped with an ache and longing for all that went so very fast. The days feel long at times, but the years go by in a blink of an eye.
I long to live these days well. The good, the bad, and the ketchup-in-the-hair days in between.