Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

...there lived a mama who had a one-step-forward, two-steps-back kind of life day.

She prayed and purposed every day especially to say many Yeses, fully aware of the messes and wrinkles and hiccups that would ensue, but confident, too, of the smiles and the joy and the peace-planting. She knew it would be worth it.

There is always a price.

The wash bumped in the dryer while she peacefully stirred batter for snacks to take on upcoming trip, adding to the journal-list of things-to-do-before-we-leave and prayed silently for her brother's soon-wedding and lingered in the quiet of children scattered.

So when Daughter wanted to play a game with Little Man, Mama said Yes! And game was played and then scattered and flat pieces slid under refrigerator and the rescue brought dust balls the size of young mice. Mama said No! to her time and Yes! to a lighthearted clean-up with two "helpers", and a game of what-else-can-we-find-under-here and then asked Daughter to stir the batter for a moment.

She trotted downstairs to switch the laundry and returned to the kitchen. She thanked Daughter for helping and stirred the batter once.

And then Little Man fell from the table (yes, table!,) for the pitfalls of being fourth child is having Mama's attention divided by at least four and he has learned how to do many things that big brothers could only have dreamed when they were small.

A bump and frozen ice-pack of green beans and fifteen minutes of kisses and snuggles later and it was lunchtime, and batter still sat half-stirred and preheated oven waited patiently, kindly heating the already-too-warm kitchen, and Mama set water on to boil for hot bowls of noodles.

And Little Man, who wants so badly to master the art of spooning food into his mouth held out his wee hand for the utensil and Mama said Yes!, setting bowl full of noodles in front of him, thinking she would watch carefully while she served the others. (If you're keeping track, attention is now divided by eight- the children, the baking, the serving of lunch, the laundry, and the list-of-things-to-do-before-we-leave.)

Crash! Little Man leaned over the side of his booster as he eyed the lovely pattern of curly noodles and broth that spread over the wood floor. Other children sat wide-eyed, waiting for Mama's reaction.

And again, she said No! to Her Time and Yes! to being a living, breathing example of peace and patience and Smile-Maker and shook her head as she approached with a rag, bending to begin scooping noodles, smiling into Little Man's wide eyes and encouraging him- What a big boy! You are eating with a spoon all by yourself! He chattered and kicked his feet, big boys returned to scooping hot bites into their mouths, and Mama dammed the broth and picked up noodles and scrubbed sticky wood planks. (Just as broth is good for the body when ill, she hoped it would be good for the floor as well, for it was inevitable that she would miss some of the mess in the cracks and crevices of chair and table legs.)

She wrung broth and noodles into the sink and Daughter hopped down and followed Mama and chattered into her other ear when Mama bent to wipe and scoop some more- Maybe you could sew me a dress, Mama, with jewels all over it and puffy sleeves and a train and ooh, a veil, too... Which reminded Mama of the sewing machine that sits idle and the pile of fabric just waiting for imagination and the time to create.

And just when the tension began to build from the incessant chatter in her right ear and the constant interruptions from the messes and the bumps and the oven beeping to remind her it was still waiting for the muffins, she remembered, once again, that when she answered Yes! to the questions, she also said Yes! to the mess. And renewed strength coursed through her veins when she was reminded that

when we open our days in prayer for Help, He answers Yes!, He will be our lifeline, and Yes!, He will carry.

She breathed softly, Give me THIS day, my daily bread...

And she served a fresh bowl of noodles and sat with Little Man, guiding the spoon in his hand from bowl to mouth, and they all rejoiced together at his progress, and Oven's reminder beep was drowned out a little longer.

So the day went quickly by; tasks begun, tasks interrupted, messes cleaned up, new messes appearing, raisins populating the carpet like so many dust mice droppings, and sometimes Mama felt as if she were running from one need to the next and never actually finishing anything.

But when she laughingly apologized to Husband as he walked in the door to books scattered and music playing loudly and game pieces decorating the table, she knew there was no need. For his eyes saw only the smiles and the flush and sparkle of cheeks and eyes and he reminded her that this is what living looks like.

And when she fell into bed that evening, and chuckled quietly at her one-step-forward, two-steps-back day, she realized something.

She really did get somewhere after all.

The muffins were finally baked.

The End.

13 fellow travelers shared:

Christine said...

Oh, how this is my life! Every day, in fact. The Lord is teaching me, as well, about embracing the messes. We are privileged to be Momma's, and he wants us to respond with gratitude for the privilege of having children to clean up after.

Natalie said...

What a wonderful post! I must admit when I started reading I thought you were going to descibe a day that didn't go well in terms of how you handled things. I was so encouraged to read that the steps BACK were the ones worthy of celebration! Thanks for sharing. I know I will remember this tomorrow before I say no!

Linda said...

Muffins baked and so much more Elise. I am so proud of you.

Anonymous said...

so nice to not be alone in these "once upon a time..." stories that God is writing in our hearts. thanks for sharing.

smiles, kelly f

Jenn with Munchkin Land Designs said...

Elise, your posts make me stop, smile, and repromise to start over tomorrow. Thank you!

And dear friend, of course I thought of you and your beautiful sons with those names. =) I would have loved nothing better than to have this one named after such great boys, with a wonderful mother leading them...

Stacy said...


Such an enjoyable slice of your day, friend.

Good job with the saying of YES!

Anonymous said...

i love this! your description, your words ... bring me right there and i feel it and so get those moments. and i LOVE your reminder that He responds; that He does say "yes" to us, in countless, life-giving ways.
thank you!!
have a sweet, full, crazy LIFE day!! =)

Carrie said...

Oh yes, muffins were made and smiles and joy filled your home. Just as you want it.

Love this. Love you.

Abby, Nathan, Chandler, Mercedes, Cooper, and Hannah said...

Oh, how this describes my home! 2 boys and 2 girls full of energy and excitement for life and one mama who is always taking two steps back! Bless you for appreciating and celebrating those backwards steps! Inspires me to say 'Yes' more and enjoy!

Andrea said...

well, you are getting *somewhere* aren't you? ;)
In His time, dear sister.

Dearest Elise, you are a shining example of motherhood--to us who read and your children who are blessed to have you!!!

Michelle DeRusha said...

You are a true inspiration to this mom who often has trouble saying an emphatic YES!

Southern Gal said...

Your words are beautiful.

Carrie said...

I really really love this post. I looked at it last night, and closed it, and this morning I woke up still thinking about it - I need to say no to annoyance and yes to the mess more often, and I love the perspective of your husband, too, that he doesn't mind the mess as long as your children are happy - and you really are living like Christ when you do this - thanks so much for writing this post.

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