In exchange for that single moment of elation after I put the dinner dishes away and don’t have to immediately yank the lunch fixings out of the fridge to assemble school meals for the next day, comes the starkness of ten weeks with all three girls at home all day, every day. Yes, there are magical moments at the beach, or when we read stories together at bedtime, but there is also a whole lot of FIGHTING and beating each other up and screaming and did I mention the FIGHTING?!
Oh, the fighting.
Summer holidays, you are a complicated mistress. High-maintenance, yet seductively beautiful at times.
Being home with the kids over summer “break” tosses me back into vivid memories of those days when they were all so little and crazy and they still crapped their pants and I hadn’t slept in six years. Good times. The guilt of not enjoying every moment sweeps over me and I fight thoughts like, “We could all be having a lot more fun if they weren’t acting like such TURDS.”
This is summer, man.
Add to the mix an exceptionally busy farmer husband and my unpredictable real estate schedule and the days are a tad harried.
This life: it’s great, it’s hard, it’s exhausting, and it’s ours.
I am thankful.
(But we REALLY would be having a lot more fun if the kids weren’t acting like such TURDS.)
I am not really sure how this happened, but my baby is eight today.
This time, eight years ago, I was propped up in a hospital bed, exhausted from a 40 hour labour, dumbfounded by the love I knew for the tiny girl in my arms, and it also kind of felt like I had been hit by a bus.
Avelyn has transformed into this wondrous child: full of laughter and hilarity, still prone to the same melodramatic tendencies she’s battled since toddlerhood, a tender, kind girl who loves animals and art and being with friends. She is beautiful and smart and we love her more than she’ll ever know.
I grew up attending Sunday School every week, soaking in stories about Adam and Eve, Jonah and the Whale, and David and Goliath. I memorized Bible verses for fun, I went to youth group multiple times a week, and I thought I had it all figured out. My world was black and white, right and wrong, nice and easy.
I always wrestled with doubts about Christianity, though: wondering about the validity of the Bible, questioning how unfair it was that people who never heard about Jesus were just destined for a fiery afterlife, second-guessing my faith. Once I left home, my world-view expanded and I let the doubts swallow me whole. I left the former black and white behind and slid into a murky gray, where I didn’t know anything about anything and I just kind of sat there for a really long time. Through it all, I still went to church every week, still attended Bible study and still felt in my heart that I was chasing the light, even if it was just a tiny pin-prick of it.
I started to see God in new ways: in the astounding beauty of nature, in the eyes of my children, in the power of the wind that He made. I let myself be OK with the mystery of the unknown, certain that He was the creator of this huge, crazy world, but I didn’t feel a deep sense of connection with Him. I longed for it, but mostly I just stayed busy with life and the days rolled into years that passed by so quickly.
Then last summer, I felt a lump on my four year-old daughter’s neck. It was big. And scary. And I was brought to my knees, both literally and figuratively. My first response was a plea for help from God. “Please let her be OK. Don’t let it be cancer. Take it away, take it away, take it away.” I spent sleepless nights, envisioning her in a hospital bed, her head bald from chemo, tubes sticking out of her everywhere and I just couldn’t handle it. I prayed and I prayed but the lump remained, and it had the doctors stumped. Thus began my summer of the biggest crisis of faith I had ever endured.
A wise, dear woman I have come to know in the past few years has played a key role in my (at times, very stunted) spiritual growth and a while back, she shed new light on the age-old story of Adam and Eve and it stuck with me. She said that when they were tempted to eat the fruit, the real questions they were wrestling with were, “Is God really good? And can we trust Him?”
Is God REALLY good? Look at this broken down world! The 30 year-old moms dying of breast cancer, the tsunamis, the depravity. How can He really be good?! And if, through all of that, He somehow proves Himself to be good, can I actually trust Him with my life? The lives of my kids?!
I spent weeks in that space, fighting, holding my breath, unable to imagine that He was actually going to be good for me. I held on tight to the situation in my heart with a closed fist, unable to imagine releasing control. If I gave Him permission to actually do His will, what would that mean? Would my daughter die?
Then, something shifted in me. A peace came. Slowly, it trickled in. And there was a song that helped me get there, one that I listened to on repeat as I drove in my car alone and cried.
A simple song that essentially says “Jesus Loves Me”.
I gradually opened my hands and my heart, surrendered this life to the One who made it, and rested in the fact that He loves us. That His will is best, even when it might be different than mine, even when there’s no way I’ll ever understand it. Through the months of doctor’s appointments, consultations with oncology at Children’s Hospital, ultrasounds and chest x-rays, He was good. And I could trust Him.
A year later, I find myself tucking my daughter in at night, so thankful that she is healthy and that the story had the ending I had hoped for. But also knowing that this life is not our own, that peace is not conditional on a positive outcome.
In the early spring, I decided to train for a 5 km run. I used the Couch To 5K app on my phone to slowly build up my endurance and it was all going really well until I got hit with The Plague and lost about three weeks of my life to the worst virus in the history of mankind. Instead of finishing my training just in time for the race, I was a good three weeks behind and wasn’t where I wanted to be as far as cardio endurance. Owell, what can ya do? I rammed myself into my spandex, laced up my runners and gave it my all.
Pre-race stretching with my friend Erin.
The starting gun fired and the masses began to move. The course was 5.4 km and weaved through town. My dad had come out from Regina to run it too and, of course, got first in his age group and 6th place overall. I always joke that his athletic genes skipped a generation but as I huffed my way through the miles, it felt good to do what I had set out to do.
Steve and the girls ran the race too so after I had crossed the finish line I waited for them and went over again with them.
I am going to keep up with my training and who knows, maybe those athletic genes are ready to come out after all?!