Yet, how I’m glad it’s not Sunday.
On Saturday night poor Liam could not sleep, so we were up for most of the night. My parents helped me out with the kids on Sunday morning so I could get a nap in, but Liam had a hard time napping well all day and his fever spiked to 102, so we headed to the doctor this morning. Just another ear infection, which is status quo for summer days in a pool, so no big deal. But it was really wonderful to be able to make a morning appointment and take off without having to co-ordinate schedules with the Ogre. My mom had the day off, so she kept the girls, and Liam and I headed to the doctor. Easy as pie.
However, the doctor took forever, and the pharmacy took even longer, so we ended up being gone for over two hours. When we got back my mom, who had been waiting to run errands all morning, helped me pin down Liam while we force-fed him ibuprofen and amoxicillin, then held him while I put Charlotte down, then took Sienna with her so I could write.
I didn’t really blink twice at this. I mean, it’s what the Ogre would have done if he hadn’t had too much work to do. After all, she only had to watch two kids for two hours, and then she took the older, most pleasant and easiest to deal with child with her. I have all three kids almost all the time! I have it hard.
But when I sat down to start writing, I wasn’t sure what to write about. So I let my thoughts wander. I started thinking about the difference between my life three months ago and my life now, and how much harder things are without the Ogre, without our own space, without my lovely kitchen and my gleaming cast-iron, without my own computer and a totally child-proofed home. Before I really got started on a pity party, though, I stopped myself. I didn’t want to feel sorry for myself. I wanted to focus on all the things I do have now.
So instead I started thinking about my mom, and how nice it is to wake up in the morning and have coffee with her. How nice it is to have someone make coffee for me instead of making it myself, groggy and with a baby on my hip. How wonderful it is to be able to shower alone, to walk out the door and run to the store without strapping three wiggling kids into three complex car seats, how much of a relief it is to have someone to help when Sienna gets a wooden letter stuck around her finger and I can’t get it off, despite my best efforts.
It suddenly occurred to me that I had never really thought about how all of this has effected her life and my dad’s life. We’re only here on a temporary basis, until we move in with my grandfather, but they’ve still done major re-arranging. They’ve let us have their room and their bathroom, they’ve tried to rearrange their schedules to give me time to write, they’ve gotten used to a house littered with toys instead of the clean, pretty house my mom usually keeps.
They’ve made huge sacrifices for us. Huge ones. After all, their time with young children is over. They had four of us, and not a one among us was what you might call an easy child to raise. But they did it, and that time in their lives is over. And yet they’ve willingly gone back there, back to life with three children five and under, back to rocking babies to sleep and soothing fevered brows, making barricades around staircases and potty training, cleaning up spilled milk and cereal and answering five thousand questions a day without losing their cool.
My life has changed in one fundamental way: I don’t have the Ogre around right now. It’s painful and difficult, but other than that, things are pretty much the same. There are diapers to change, laundry to do or neglect, dishes to wash, accidents to clean. Life goes on, for me, much the same as it’s gone on all these years. It’s just happening in a different place.
For my parents, life has changed fundamentally and dramatically. There are no more long, quiet evenings together. Their evenings are once again, after all these years, a chaotic scramble to feed, bathe, and put children to bed, and then to turn out lights and speak in whispers until the baby is rocked to sleep. Their mornings don’t start peacefully anymore; they usually start with a child shrieking or a toy banging loudly against the staircase. My mom doesn’t spend her days off relaxing; she watches the kids for me so I can write, she takes Sienna and Charlotte out to swim, she rocks the baby.
Everything about their life has changed, and they’ve been happy to change it for us. But I don’t think I realized until now just how much they’ve done for me, for the Ogre, and for the kids. After all, they’ve never mentioned it. They’ve been happy to help. But I’ve been so focused on myself, on how hard the move was, on how hard it is being without the Ogre, on how stressed out I am, that I haven’t even noticed that my burden is much, much lighter than it seems.
Sometimes I think that I’m self-aware, that I see myself and my relationship with others clearly. Then I have moments like this, and I realize that the depth of my self-centerdness is terrifying. I keep wondering how much more there is to find out, how many other sacrifices I’m failing to see, how many other people I owe thanks to that never get it.
I’m profoundly grateful that virtue grows by inches. If I were to see, suddenly and clearly, the depth and breadth of all the sin and selfishness in me, I wouldn’t be able to bear it. Certainly I wouldn’t be able to find the will to change, not in the face of all that. It would seem a hopeless cause. But God’s mercy is abundant, and He reveals our faults slowly.
For that, I am profoundly grateful. I can’t change the past, nor can I change everything about me all at once, but I can be more grateful, more helpful, and more aware of sacrifices that are made for me. And maybe, instead of thinking about what I need, I can think about what my parents might need or want and try to give that to them instead of asking so much of them.