Why Dishes Are Still In My Sink

I didn’t finish my dishes tonight. I love when they are finished. Because I can come down to clean kitchen the next morning, brew my coffee and start the day fresh.

But I didn’t finish them tonight. Half are still soaking in the sink. With food stuck to the plates. And BBQ sauce sticking to my crockpot.

Tomorrow I will go downstairs to a messy kitchen. I will have to stick my hand in the cold water and unplug the drain. (Something I hate doing.) And I will have to start my day doing the dishes I didn’t do tonight.

But do you know what I DID do tonight?

I popped popcorn on the stove with my daughter Selah, who is 4-years-old. Because she wanted to have a “fun” night. All week she kept saying she wanted to have a “fun” night where we popped popcorn and watched a movie and danced to music.

So I decided tonight was going to be the “fun” night.

And it really was.

She stood on the counter as the popcorn popped on the stove. And she laughed hysterically, the whole time, at every single kernel as it popped. It wasn’t really that funny, but it was “fun” night, so I joined her in forced laughter for five straight minutes.

We started the movie, “Because Of Win-Dixie,” and sat together on the floor holding our big bowl of popcorn.

And she fed me.

Every couple handfuls of popcorn that went into her mouth, she would pick up a piece and put it carefully to my mouth. But there was so much love in her eyes.

I obliged.

After all, it was the “fun” night.

So, we took turns feeding each other. The movie played on and there we were looking like two newlyweds at their wedding reception, but instead of feeding each other cake, it was popcorn. And we couldn’t stop laughing.

And she put her arm around me. And I didn’t want to leave her side.

The dishes were calling me.

But tonight, I just stayed. I just sat by her side, and watched the movie all the way through.

She put princess stickers on my shirt. Carefully, one by one.

And…

She told me she loved me.

And it felt good. To just fully give myself to her.

For once.

To breathe in her sweet scent. .

I remember the first time I smelled her. The snowy night she was born, when they laid her slippery little body on my chest. And I wrapped my frail, shaky arms around her. And all at once, I loved her. All of me, loved all of her.

And an avalanche happened in my heart.

Of love.

Baby girl. 

Come back. 

She’s not a baby anymore. She’s four.

But on nights like this. When we’re wrapped in eachother’s arms. She is mine, and I am hers.

And there’s nothing more sacred, more holy, then these moments with her. Getting low and laying on the carpet.

Feeding each other popcorn.

And laughing at all the funny parts.

Because it’s “fun” night.

And I love her.

And by some miracle, she loves me.

With a love more tender, and kind, and gentle, than I am worthy of.

With stickers.

And popcorn.

And her tiny arm tightly around me.

Because tonight, there was this moment when I looked over at her laughing, and I was laughing, and just for a moment she felt more like sister, than my daughter. Like my friend.

And I’m going to remember this, tomorrow morning. When I wake up and go downstairs. And stick my hand in the cold water and unplug the kitchen sink. Because I’ll be wondering why I didn’t choose the dishes.

 

And I know, moms, we can’t spend ALL our days playing with our kids. Our houses would eventually collapse in a pile of rubble.

But let’s be honest, how much time do we actually spend playing with our kids?

(Without our phone handy, so we can space out on Facebook…which is what I usually do.)

I don’t play with my daughter enough.

Tonight, though, for a change, I just needed to “clock-out” from being Susie Homemaker. Because there are always dishes in the sink. There’s always one more thing to do.

And it’s always something important.

(To me.)

 

But she’s important, too. And it’s more important to her, that I lay on the floor, and let her feed me popcorn, and cover my shirt with stickers.

Tomorrow, I’m going to trip over the pillows on the living room floor.

And I’ll be sure to find some stray popcorn kernals on the stove.

And yes, I’ll reach into that nasty cold sink water.

But she’s the reason my dishes are still in the sink. 

My daughter.

My sister. 

My friend. 

The Beauty Of Right Now

One day there won’t be anymore smudges on my windows. I won’t trip over toys in the hallway. Or in the shower. Everything will be in perfect order.

I know this because when I go visit my parents house, it’s clean. Freshly vacuumed, and furniture polished. Everything is as it should be.

And I think, “Someday, my house will be clean.”

But you know what? In that day, I’m going to miss this. I’m going to miss them. Being little.

I will look out my unsmudged windows and cry for the fingerprints that once marked them. For the little girl who once stared out of them and dreamed.

For the baby boy who held me hostage to the couch, because he wanted to nurse 23 hours out of the day, and whose big blue eyes would lock with mine while he did, and nearly take my breath away.

And I will ache for a day…exactly like today. All messy and undone.

Someday I won’t wake to crying in the night. I will have eight hours of glorious, undisturbed sleep, every night. (If I want it.)

But, I won’t want it then. I’ll somehow want this.

I’ll want the nights back when the baby woke me up with his cries, and my daughter crawled in between the safety of our warm bodies to forget her nightmares. And remember her dreams.

Someday I will have time. Time to write. Time to shop. Time to do whatever I want. Too much time. I won’t have a baby boy nursing at my breast, or a toddler trying to hug (and kiss) that baby boy while he is nursing at my breast, because, “He’s so cute, Mom,” she says over and over again. And we won’t be piled on top of each other, into that one spot on the couch. (Because everyone knows when you love someone, you should sit on top of them.)

Someday I will cook dinner in peace. I won’t be tripping over my 4-year-old who steps exactly where I step, right before I step there. And I won’t have a baby boy strapped to my chest while I try to do the dishes and bounce him to sleep at the same time.

Someday…they won’t be strapped to my chest. They’ll just be strapped to my heart. I will wash the dishes and stare out the window, hating how quiet it is. Hating how easy it is. Hating how clean it is.

And all I will have are these memories.

Of us all piled together. Of me not having an inch of personal space. Of not getting a chance to shower, and instead getting showered in spit-up, and high-arcing pee during diaper changes.

And I will miss it. I will miss them–just like this.

I will miss them being little. 

And I don’t know why my daughter pretends she’s a mermaid named Elsa in the bathtub, or why she drenches the floor with her splash-kicks–except that, she’s little. And this is her world right now.

And I don’t know why my baby boy wants me all the time, or why he screams when I put him in his car seat, or why he wakes up the moment anything remotely romantic happens between me and his dad. But he does. And he’s little. And this is our world right now.

And I’m going to miss it.

The other day my husband popped in for lunch. I was not expecting him, and the house was a disaster. Clothes were in heaps in the living room, the kitchen wasn’t tidied. My hair was in a giant messy bun, and I had no make-up on. My son was asleep in my arms (in our usual spot on the couch), and my daughter was laying on the floor looking at her books.

“Hi,” I said, with a smile.

I knew what it probably looked like. I knew it looked like I accomplished nothing. I knew it looked like I didn’t care. And…I was about to apologize to him. I was about to say, “I’m sorry…” For the house. For my hair.

But before the words came out, I noticed something.

Smudges on the windows.

Smudges because she had been standing there hoping he would come. Watching for his car. And it hit me like a ton of bricks: someday we won’t have smudges on the windows.

And in that moment, there was just something about the way her blonde hair fell into her face as she lay on the floor and looked at her books. And there was something about the way my son was laying, so comfortably in my arms, like he had melted into me–and suddenly the words, “I’m sorry,” didn’t seem to make sense any more.

And instead I said, “I have a beautiful, beautiful life.”

And I meant it.

Tears formed in my eyes. Because just for a second, I saw it. It was just a glimpse, but I saw it. The beauty of right now.

Right now.

I have a beautiful, beautiful life. 

And I’m writing this, so I remember.

And I’m writing this, so you remember. And so you don’t forget. Wherever you’re at today. Whatever you accomplished. Or didn’t accomplish. However clean or messy your house is, don’t let Satan steal this one glorious truth from you:

I have a beautiful, beautiful life. 

Right now. 

Today. 

And these days often feel long.

But someday, they will feel short.

So very short, the time that our kids were little.

And we will all long for it back. This time. With them.

It’s like a breeze. Like the wind.

You can’t take a picture of the wind. You can’t keep it. You can’t capture it. And you can’t take it with you.

You can only feel it while it is blowing.

And it’s blowing now. 

So turn towards it, and let it blow. Turn towards it and just…feel it. Let your hair fly and get tangled in it. Because someday, there won’t be any more smudges on the windows. And you’ll long just to feel it again, this wind,

their breath on your skin.

It’s blowing now. 

 


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“Am I Enough?”

Why God Took So Long To Give Me A Baby

God gave me you

I was painting in the garage, and she was drawing a rainbow on the cement floor with chalk when she said, “I’m glad God gave you to me as my Mommy.”

I wasn’t ready for it. “What?” I asked, making sure I heard her right. She tried to say it again, but her words came out a little more awkward this time, and she said something like, “I’m happy your’e my mommy from God.”

Tears filled my eyes.

Then she prayed, “God, thank you for giving my mommy to me. And thank you (I couldn’t understand this part.) And thank you, she makes me breakfast. And thank you we’re going to make pumpkin spagotti (biscotti). I hope it tastes good. Do you think it will taste good, God?”

Then she opened her eyes, and went back to drawing her chalk mural–while my eyes blurred with tears, and a huge lump came to my throat. Where did that come from?

She’s three…and I didn’t know her little heart could hold such gratitude. Or that it would just burst out of her, during this subtle moment in the garage. Or that she would thank God, outloud, for me, right then.

Usually, she doesn’t even want to pray out loud–even with me encouraging her.  But today she felt something inside her.

Something beautiful.

Her little heart can hold more love than I often know.

Her little mind…is not so little as I think it is. She thinks far beyond what I would expect.

“Thank you, Selah,” I said, smiling. “I’m so glad God gave me you as my daughter.”

I would have hugged her right then, if my hands didn’t have white paint on them, and if there wasn’t so much junk between us on the floor. The drawers I was painting, and an old wooden chair.

“Did you have to wait a long time for me Mom?” she asked. (I have told her the story many times, but she wanted to hear it again.)

I stepped across the junk on the floor and came a little closer to her. “Yes,” I said. “I asked God for a baby over and over again. But He didn’t give me one for a long time.”

“And when me and Daddy found out you were in my tummy, we were so happy!” I told her.

“Do you know why God took so long to give you a baby?” she said.

“No, honey,” I said. “I don’t know.”

“I know why,” she said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because…He was making me,” she said.

He was making me.

I looked into her deep blue eyes, that seemed to know something from another world, and her blonde tossled hair russled in the breeze. And in that moment, she seemed a thousand years old.

He was making me. 

And that answer was enough. And my heart resounded with the truth of it, “Of course He was. Of course, that’s exactly what He was doing, Dear One.”

Because now that I know her, and know how special she is–it only makes sense, that it took so long. I don’t know what God was doing with her up there. There is just something about her, that seems as if she spent a long time on God’s chest before coming to mine. Almost as if heaven didn’t want to give her up.

Selah. 

And I say this with tears, to you, barren ones…

Who are waiting for your baby prayers to be answered.

Who are praying every day for God to give you a baby. To give you life.

I don’t know why it’s taking so long. 

I don’t know if He will give you a child through your womb, or through foster care, or adoption.

But either way…if you are waiting right now, and you don’t know why it’s taking so long.

Maybe it’s because God, the Maker and Giver of Life and every living thing…is still in the process of making your baby.

We can’t even begin to comprehend what is happening in the heavenlies, in the unseen, and what, or who He is forming. 

His ways are not like ours. His timing is not like ours.

And perhaps if He’s moving so slowly, and He’s taking so long… It’s because He’s forming something so breathtaking and beautiful…it cannot be rushed.

He is in the process of forming a masterpiece. 

And maybe one day, a little masterpiece will stand before you and say, “I know why God took so long to give you a baby.”

And you will say, “Why?”

And they will say,

“Because…

He was making me.” 

Why Our Kids Need Us To Make More Messes 

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It was just the two of us last weekend. While “Daddy” was seven hours away, camping and climbing in the mountains, my two-year-old daughter and I stayed home with the mountains of laundry in the living room. On Saturday night, we were having a rather lame evening and were both feeling a little restless and bored and irritated with one another,  when suddenly: I had an idea. (It was what I like to call a “Fun Mommy” idea. You know, one of those ideas that matches the impulsiveness of a 13-year-old boy.) The moment I thought of it, I blurted it right out, “Hey! I know! Let’s set up the tent, and have a camp-out in your bedroom!”  

Yay!! Yay!!! Yay!!” My daughter Selah cheered and jumped up and down. And then…I immediately regretted that decision. 

I suddenly envisioned the huge mess it was going to make. The pain of setting it up, and tearing it down. Not to mention the stiff back I’d have in the morning. 

“Wait,” I kept asking her, trying to undo what I’d just done,  “Are you SURE you want to sleep in the tent tonight?” (I don’t know why I thought she might change her mind, because the more I asked her if she was “sure,” the more excited she got, and the higher she jumped up and down.)

We were definitely setting up the tent. 

After I set it up, (and almost took out her eye with one of the tent poles, and nearly smashed the light on her ceiling while dodging her eye), I spread a few blankets and pillows in the tent and went to the kitchen to finish the dishes. And when I came back…every single stuffed animal and toy my daughter owns was in the tent. I mean we were at “FULL OCCUPANCY.” Her toy box was totally bare.  


“Come in Mama! Come in Mama!” she screamed. My jaw dropped. My eyebrows raised. “Wow,” I kept repeating, “Wow.” I didn’t know how to react. But then I saw her face…smiling with such intensity over what she had done. Convinced I would join in her pleasure.

And something just came over me. Maybe I do have the impulsiveness of a teenage boy, but I jumped in like it was the ball-pit at Chuck E. Cheese’s. And as I lay there, looking quite like Gulliver surrounded by the little village people, she squealed with delight. And then I did something I don’t often do: I actually played with her. I gave her stuffed animals names and characters and voices. I don’t often take the time to think up dialogue between a Cabbage Patch doll and a plush fox—but that night I did. And I think if she smiled any wider, her face would have cracked open.

And that’s when I realized: she loves this. 

She would not rather be doing anything in the world right now, than playing with me. Than burying me in toys. Than listening to me make stuffed animals talk. Because this is her world.

And she wants me to enter it.

She wants me on her level. To see the world the way she does. With excitement, and wonder, and possibility. But I’m 28 and she’s 2. And we don’t enjoy the same things. We don’t see the world the same way.

And she can’t understand why I like to sit still and read a book. Or type on the computer. Or clean the house. We enjoy totally different things. It’s like, my language is different than hers right now. And she can’t learn mine. I have to learn hers. I have to know how to speak to her. Because that’s the only way she will hear me. 

And right now, as much as I want to believe it, she doesn’t actually feel loved by a clean house. (I do.) She doesn’t feel happier when I’m tossing all her toys in the correct bins. (I do.) She wants the dogpile. And she wants the mess—if it means that I come with it.

I’m sure there are plenty of mom’s out there that can manage it differently, but for me and my house, I cannot show my daughter love right now unless a huge mess is involved. 

When My Biggest Messes Become Her Best Memories

My daughter loves tea-parties, and painting, and “helping” me cook. (Yikes!) She likes giant forts, and tents in her room, and going to the beach so that she’s covered from head to toe in sand by the time we leave. (Including every crack and crevice.) But these are moments we will look back and remember.

So, sometimes, what will mean a big mess for me to clean up, will mean a big memory for her someday.

When I was growing up, I’m sure my mother did a great job with our house…but quite frankly, I don’t remember. And when I think back to my happiest memories with my mom, or during my childhood, none of them involve anything “clean” or “tidy.” In fact, quite the opposite.

So maybe I need to stop. I need to stop trying to make it look a two-year old DOESN’T live in my house. Because she most certainly DOES. And so do all her toys.

And I need to stop avoiding fun activities, just because they are going to be messy. I need to embrace the messy activities, because those are the ones she’s going to remember and enjoy.

I’m not saying we don’t ever need to clean our houses…because we do. But, I know for me, it just somehow takes over. The desire for cleanliness, and order. I only have one child, but sometimes I feel like I have two. And my house is like this spoiled “firstborn.” I spoil her and fuss over her, and drop everything to make sure she’s “happy” (or organized.)

Meanwhile, my daughter begs for my attention. And I keep sending her away, because I feel I need to tend to my “firstborn.” I say, “Go play with your toys.” “Go to your room.” “Go read your books.”

Meanwhile, she waits.

And sometimes I forget that: I didn’t quit my job so I could stay home and take care of my precious house. 

I quit my job so I could stay home and take care of my precious child. 

She matters. What I do with her here every day–it matters. What I whisper in her ears as she falls asleep, the songs I sing to soothe her cries, all my made up lullabies. They matter. What she remembers about me, the way I made her feel—all matter so very much. Because my house could be bulldozed next week. But my daughter, will live for eternity. And the imprints I leave on her soul matter forever.

There are moments no one sees when I’m alone with her—but God sees them. And she sees them, and feels them all. And they all shape her and who she is becoming. I want to be a good “steward” of my house, but I want to be a better “steward” of this little girl. Who will grow up to be a woman, who will have her own thoughts and questions about God, who will have to choose between wanting a treasure that can be seen and praised by men, or hidden away in heaven with God. Who will have to choose someday between her house and her child. She will live in a world who cares only about outward appearances, and cares nothing for inward ones.

My daughter needs me. She needs to me to look her in the face, she needs my arms around her, and sometimes she just needs me to lay with her and be totally enefficent. And sometimes, she needs me to make a big mess with her—just to feel my love.

That night I slept in the tent on her bedroom floor, we did make a huge mess. And my back was sore the next day. But as we lay in the dark with the glow of Pillow Pets and flashlights and giggled and kissed and held each other close–a memory was made.

Someday she won’t be two anymore. She will be seventeen. And I will need to learn her language all over again. And when that day comes, she will need to know: I’m not afraid of her messes. And showing her my love might look different then. I doubt she’ll want a camp-out on her bedroom floor. I might even have to sleep outside her bedroom door, until she’s willing to open it. I might have to lay on her bed and listen to her music, long enough to learn all the lyrics. I might need to sit with her in her messy room, and listen to her cry. I might need to pull her close and tell her I made a lot of messes growing up, too.

But she was never one of them.

And I don’t see her just as this “mess-maker.” But as this beautiful “memory.” I will need to show her, whether she’s two or a teenager, that Love makes messes. And Love stays to clean up messes.

Some will spend their whole lives trying to avoid messes. But as for me and my house…we’re choosing to make messes. To love making messes. Messes so big, you can’t help but remember them.

Braver Than Me

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She charges into the roaring surf at the ocean. And wants to be pushed higher, and higher on the swings. She pets barking dogs. And scales the walls of her crib. She stands on the very edge of the kitchen chairs, like she’s ready to spring off a diving board. And during her bath, she dumps bucket after bucket of water on her head, drenching her face.

How did she come from me?

This dauntless creature?

Who screams louder than I did. Moves faster. Laughs harder. And jumps higher. (In her crib.)

Last week, I set her down in the store, and at once she ran to a giant “Back to School” display, grabbed a lunch box for each hand and charged down the aisle just like someone about to miss a flight (except, she was laughing hysterically.)

“Stop!” I’m yelling, “Come back!”

I snatch her up like a squealing pig, and whisper, “Shhh!” in her ear, trying hard not to laugh. But as I’m prying the Hello Kitty lunch boxes, like suitcases, from each of her hands, a wave of loss washes over my heart.

Don’t grow up, Baby Girl.

She’s only one and a half, but is already racing out of my arms the moment they swing open, like a derby horse out of the gate. And I know the day will come when she’s not just heading down an aisle at the store, but another aisle. Where she is dressed in a white flowing gown, and I stand by with streaming tears, and…a thousand tiny memories of her,
are suddenly awakened,
like a thousand butterflies put to flight.

Please, could I catch just one, to keep?

I want to pin her down forever. Right here. Like this. Where I can stroke her soft white-blonde hair, that curls when she wakes-up warm from a nap. And stare deep into her blue eyes, like two worlds. And to grab her skinny, squirming frame, and pull her close against me, if even for a moment. Could we just stay frozen like this forever?

But I can’t pin her down like a butterfly in a collection. And fragile as she seems, she was made to be free.

Free to fly.

My Darling Girl,
Sometimes, I fear what you will be. Where you will go. The adventures you will take. And the risk.

But if God has given you wings, I will teach you to fly.

To reach higher than me. Love deeper than me. Run harder than me. Stretch further. And be braver.

For when the world goes dark, your hands may need to strike the match and carry the torch. And when the Dragon invades, your bow may need to shoot the arrows into his heart. But don’t be afraid.

For your Rescuer, Jesus,

is coming back,

and coming soon,

for brave hearts longing for Him.

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[I recently had the honor of being a guest blogger and submitting this piece for a wonderful blog called MomLife Now, which is written by an incredibly gifted writer and mother named Sasha, whom I believe you will love as much as I do.]