Hey, hi, how are you doing? Do we have time for a nice newsy old-fashioned update?
I think it’s official: I should probably stop referring to my children as “the tinies.” They aren’t all tiny anymore. Of course, we still have one tiny (more on her in a minute) but my first three, my three-in-four-years tinies, are growing up. Anne is turning 10 this week and she’s almost 5’3″. Joseph will be 8 in a matter of weeks and he’s 4’9″. Evelynn is headed off to kindergarten this week.
They aren’t so tiny anymore. They are growing up.
I like these ages so much.
Sometimes I remember those days when they were all home all day. At the time, it felt like those days would last forever (some days more than others….) and now they are “those days” instead of my “right now.” When I was a stay-at-home mum with three babies who napped! (Oh, I miss napping tinies.) I remember shopping for groceries with one in the cart seat, one in the cart, and one strapped to my chest, I remember going for late afternoon walks in the wintertime before the sun set just so we could get out of the house, I remember reading books out loud for the first time and being so excited to introduce them to Stuart Little. Those were the days of the tinies, I think these are the days of the “big kids” as we refer to them at home now.
I was a different mum then, I think. I miss her sometimes.
It felt like time was a bit slower or I made more of it or our lives were smaller or simpler. I know that sounds odd to say: we’re supposed to love when our lives get bigger and wider. And I do, I’m grateful for the complexities that come with work and school and friends and church. It’s just…small and simple was good, too. Those small days, those days of cleaning routines and daily bedtime baths and nursing, those close-to-home, close-together days were good, too, and they were big and important in their own way. Life feels faster now that the tinies are no longer the tinies. Now that they are in school it’s all clicking by too fast and we’re talking about middle school and sleepovers, Star Wars movies and Percy Jackson books, baseball and Minecraft.
We’re about three weeks from the start of school for the big kids.
And our last little baby-of-the-heart is staunchly into toddler territory now. #JesusTakeTheWheel I keep thinking someday I’ll manage to give birth to a child who is a little more – well, sedentary. A child like me! Someone who likes to sit (I love to sit: all my favourite activities involve sitting – knitting, reading, writing…). But instead we’re four-for-four on busy, active, never-sit-still kids. I think the last time Maggie sat still in my lap was the last time she nursed which was about 6 months ago. She is either busy or she is sleeping.
(Praise of all praises, knock on wood, she is an excellent sleeper at last. It took a looooooong time with this girl as you all know but we’re here in the Promised Land at last.)
You know, here’s the thing: you do forget. You do. You swear you’re never going to forget what it’s like “in the trenches” with small children when you’re in the midst of it but then you get just a few years out of that intense season of life and then a toddler shows up and you’re all, “Oh, good gracious, I forgot how busy this season is!” They are mobile enough to get into everything but still learning their boundaries and the rules so it’s a stage of constant high alert, vigilance, and teaching. I don’t know quite how I did three of these in succession: one feels plenty at the moment.
Maggie knows exactly what she wants at all times and she is deeply determined to achieve her goals: I keep telling the other kids that this will be a great character trait later on her life. They think I’m trying to stay positive.
Let’s just say I’ve always been a fan of early bedtime and I’m great at enforcing naps.
Toddlers are an absolute delight to my soul and toddlers are absolutely exhausting to my body, amen.
There has been a lot happening in our extended family life this summer. It’s not really my story to tell but it’s dominated our lives and our hearts in many ways. I don’t mean to be cryptic but I can’t really talk about the last few months without acknowledging that it’s also been a hard season right now. I can’t say “It’s been such a great summer here!” because it kind of hasn’t been.
In some ways it’s been wonderful and healing and clarifying but this big thing has also been happening and so this summer has had pain and fear, worry and anxiety, too. This is reality for most of us most of the time: we’re always holding grief and hope together, joy and sorrow, delight and exhaustion.
I think I’ll try to write about it a bit (other than in my journal) in a few months, when I’ve had more time to process, once I feel released to do so.
I think sometimes we rush the narrative construction of our seasons. I know I am guilty of this in my life and yet I still do it. We are eager to wring the lesson and the hope and the story out of our lives in order to make sense of them, we are ready to move on! but sometimes the story isn’t clear until you’ve lived further into a few more chapters. Time reveals what was really going on and there is no shortcut for an unfolding life. Sometimes the full story won’t be clear to us until years have passed and then we see the hand of God or we see old things with new eyes; this is grace.
So we’ve been close to home most of the summer. We’ve cocooned in many ways, I think. It’s been a good way to spend the summer together. I did travel a few times to preach or speak which was lovely and I have another few dates coming up in the fall but I am home for the next few weeks for the back-to-school preparations and transitions. It is time for some serious list making.
I’ve been reading a lot. Summer is always my time for big binges on novels and comfort reading. I’ll probably try to do a “What I’m Into” post in the next bit of time to share some thoughts on books – you know how I love to talk about books.
I’ve been working on my own new book but the writing has been slow going with the tinies all home all day so I’ve been outlining and researching and planning in hopes that when the tinies – I mean, The Kids! – start back to school that I’ll be ready to hit the ground running with energy to create. I’ll probably share more about that in the fall, too. Right now I’m at the stage of writing where I’m wrestling the idea down and if I talk about it, I might lose my grip on it. But I am excited to share it with you soon hopefully.
We’ve been watching the Olympics but not too much. I’m more of a winter Olympics kind of gal. But we’ve enjoyed the break of the games from all the bad news in the world most days. It’s been a relief, hasn’t it?
I have also been knitting more this summer. I finished a new sweater for Evelynn and just cast on a simple cardi for Maggie to have for the fall. The pattern I knit for Evelynn is one that I have done probably five times for the girls at various ages and stages: it’s called Tiny Tea Leaves and it’s a simple but pretty pattern, I love it. (And speaking of how the kids have grown up, I just clicked on that link for the pattern and boo-hoo-ed over baby Evelynn and toddler Joe and kindergarten Anne.)
Brian has been having a lot of success with his garden this year so I’ve been by-passing the produce section for months. We’re giving away lettuce and beans and kale. The tinies ate all of our carrots straight out of the ground with a wash from the hose like the good Lord intended. We’ll need to plant less lettuce and more carrots next year, for sure. There is something amazing about eating the food you grew yourself, isn’t there? and let’s be honest, there is no tomato like a homegrown tomato.
Here is a thing I do when life feels confusing or hard: I curl up in simple practices and I tend to go small. I don’t know if this is the best way to handle things but it helps me feel better. I read to my children, I watch them in the slip n’ slide, I spend time with people whom I feel genuinely know and love us, I get to essentials at work and re-learn saying no, I read books, I get pretty inward and quiet, I go for walks, I sing, I knit, I do ordinary work like clean the house and plan meals and cook. These things help me and often this is how I pray, too, and that brings light and relief to me.
Tonight we’re making ribs on the barbeque with corn on the cob. Later we’ll go over to my sister’s house and have a glass of wine on her deck while all of our kids play together. We’ll cackle like a couple of old crones over inappropriate things leaving our husbands despairing. Everyone needs one friend who knows them like my sister knows me.
I better wrap the birthday present for our nearly double-digit girl! How has it been ten years since Anne came into the world?
So hey, hi, summer is almost over but not yet. I’ll have stories to tell someday. Right now I’m living this one and it’s mostly good. I am grateful.
Babies in bathing suits and bunches of kale,