Mornings around here are usually a flurry of emptying the dishwasher, gathering laundry, making beds, changing diapers, taking out the garbage, and feeding and dressing a whole bunch of little people. I’m usually up well before dawn, and on the rare morning that I try to sleep in, my two-year-old, Rosie, my little alarm clock, comes barging in at six.
But this morning, the first thing I noticed was that the room was light. And the house was quiet. But when I listened more closely, I could hear giggling. I looked all around the house, expecting the worst (a giggle often means pen on a leather chair, toddlers who have found the bucket of lollipops, or something more dire), but the whole house was quiet. I followed the sound to the back yard, where my husband, Ed, sat in the pool with our two younger daughters, steam rising all around them as the wind whipped through their hair.
This last year has been both the best and hardest of my life. Last March, we brought Rose, then eleven months, home from China, and this March, we returned for Eli, who is now 22 months. Our family grew from four kids to six, I went back to parenting toddlers, and everyone has had to adjust to the busy, beautiful, sometimes harrowing new reality.
So I turned back to the house, thankful that Ed could have this quiet moment swimming with his two little girls.
I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s Some Assembly Required, which is a memoir of her first grandson. I’m not that far into the book yet, and it’s my first experience reading Lamott. I knew that she was a religious person before I started reading Some Assembly Required, but the thing that has surprised me the most in reading the first quarter of the book is how crotchety and grumpy and anxious she can be. She’s constantly doing things that would drive me crazy if she were in my life– hovering over her grandchild, getting angry over petty slights, snapping at people, obsessing over the baby like she’s his mother instead of his grandmother. All the while she’s going to church (somewhat reluctantly sometimes) and analyzing her actions so she can try to have some kind of mastery over them.
I find Lamott’s writing so refreshing. She’s not sugar-coating. She’s not pretending. She’s showing that the people who need God in their lives are not the perfect people, but the imperfect people (which is all of us). She’s showing us that God is there for all of us, showing us moments of grace, like this morning’s moment in the pool.
Ten minutes later, Ed and the girls came rushing up to the house. He had Rosie under one arm and he held his other hand out in front of him like it held something toxic. Maren, naked and shivering, said, “Rose pooped in the pool,” as Ed plopped the (wet, poopy) baby in my arms and took off down the hall to deposit the load.
I’m learning that the challenge for me is not to remember today just as the moment Rose ruined everything by pooping in the pool. Woe unto us, aren’t toddlers hard? But it also shouldn’t be whitewashing the morning, forgetting about the poop, and remembering just the giggles and the smiles and the steam rising. The look of disgust and resignation on Ed’s face was priceless, and pretty funny, and sometimes what I need more than anything these days is a laugh. And I believe that even when we’re blinded by frustration or hopelessly mired in our small, human ways, God sends us something to laugh about.