I wish I thought to take a picture of all the rubbish that came home in my children’s bags on the last day of school. It was epic! Think this picture below times at least 100. This is just the remnants; the stuff that was salvageable.
School is finished and I managed to get through the last couple of weeks. I didn’t get through gracefully, but the dreaded weeks are behind me. When there are rough patches in family life, I often feel alone. I wonder if there is something wrong with me. The kids bicker more than usual. My temper is stretched. I’m exhausted. The house becomes a dumping ground as we frantically try to do the everything that needs to be done, and be at all the places we need to be. This means things aren’t organised at home, and I don’t know where I’m at. I can’t find things and the house runs in a hickelty-pickelty fashion. I feel down, and am unable to think clearly. I wrote about this, and was surprised, and so very encouraged by the lovely responses I received. Parenting can be quite a lonely journey at times. And yet we do share so many of the same experiences, so I have discovered once again.
I feel more like myself again.
There is a little story I want to share. It has a little to do with the odious task of unpacking school bags, and a lot to do with listening for the stillness of truth amongst the noise.
The small blessings that speak truth…
I watched my girls walk through the gate, and under the fiery poinsettia tree that provided a carpet of red-orange on the grass. They were walking slow, turning to each other in comfortable conversation. I never fail to feel a sense of pride at the evidence of their relationship and what good friends they are. It was the last day of school and I was glad of it. My two eldest girls were still 20 metres away when I wound down the window of the car.
“You DID IT! You finished school for the year! Congratulations!!” I didn’t care who overheard me.
I watched the smiles creep on their faces. As they came closer, I noticed their swollen backpacks and a sense of dread filled me at inevitable: the job of sorting through the contents. Some of my prior exuberance leaked out of me like an injured balloon fading fast. More stuff to deal with. More rubbish. More things to find a home for. I get so sick of stuff sometimes.
Later at home, I found the usual in the backpacks: broken pencils, rotten fruit, pens without lids, 6 erasers (2 from the start of the year and another 4 so called ‘replacements’ I was commissioned to buy), empty glue sticks, small containers I had been looking for all year, 4 teaspoons, 1 fork, books, paper, paper, and more paper.
As I sorted through the items, I came across a self portrait and profile written by my then 7-year-old daughter.
You know, it’s these little things that are like a burst of light through the storm clouds. It’s the redemption in the chaos, when I feel I’m doing everything wrong. It’s the moment in the big picture.
I looked through another bag and found a Portrait of Dad by my 5-year-old daughter (Prep). It’s encouraging to know the effort to visit my husband with the kids on many a long weekend when he is working, is important, it matters, and it impacts on the children in a positive way.
I love the details in this picture.
The surgeon’s hat. The glasses he wears when he is operating. The two pockets either side of the scrubs.
I love the words.
My favourite thing about Dad is: “Because he takes me to the unit at his work and gives me yummy food, and he makes silly jokes.”
I flicked through some of the intact books to see snippets of our family life filter through. What I saw made me happy.
I was rather astounded by the artwork and felt grateful for the teacher’s efforts and my daughter’s obvious progress.
I watched a DVD filled with images of my 10-year-old. In it I see how much she has achieved and matured over the year.
When I’m in the valley, it feels like I’m stuck; there’s a mountain to climb at every turn. Yet God reminds me of all these little blessings that put everything in perspective. Although the sound echoes loud in the valley as it bounces around and surrounds me, it’s often the quiet, still, and small things that speak truth.
Valleys exist. Waves happen. The rain comes.
The grass is green. The sun is bright. The flowers sing.