There was a morning this week that I came into consciousness during the wee hours when it was still dark. I sighed when I realized that at least the entire right side of my pajamas felt drenched any time I moved in bed. There was a large boy on my right, a middle troll (I mean, boy) on my left, and a wee one bumbling around trying to figure out how to squeeze in somewhere. The “fluid,” I can only surmise, was the result of boy #2 who had decided his jammies were wet, left them and the pull-up in a pile beside the bed and climbed naked into my bed sometime in the very, very wee hours of the morning (apparently I am tired enough not to notice additions to my slumbering anymore). Deep down inside, I groaned, “I am miserable….”
….for a second. Then I said to myself, “I am blessed.” For if you desire peace, you create peace within yourself first. You lay amidst the chaos and say, “I am blessed.” You take ten deep breaths as Super Tall Guy works to escalate a battle and say, “I am jello…your emotions will not stick to me.” You watch a football soar from the arms of Super Tall Guy, sail over the hands of The Flipper and bounce off the head of the Little Guy who is in the midst of tackling The Rascal while Mr. Ornery races around the indoor home loop. And you say, “this is pretty good – all is well. There is peace here.”
The center of peace is in the way that I perceive what is happening and can negotiate the environment and interactions around me. This is a work in progress (every single minute). Super Tall Guy and I had a very miserable year when he was about three. He was struggling with independence issues (very normal) and a quick temper. I was struggling with unhappiness in my adult life at the time, a quick temper as well (that part hasn’t necessarily gone away), and having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that I could not “control” this little human being. We were an explosive combination with intense negativity at times and a general lack of peace. There was very little “tranquility” and not much “harmony” in our relationship. It has taken quite awhile to grow together and get to the point where we are today with random flares disrupting a much calmer sea.
And most of the time now…more honestly…some of the time, I can handle the chaos and the noise of 5 active boys running around, pushing, shoving, sticking their tongues out, biting, kicking….pretty much invading each other’s personal space in order to meet a personal desire for an object or invoke a whine or cry from the other. Sometimes I have had enough sleep. I am feeling “okay” in my professional life. I am not (too) stressed and can tolerate the chaos.
But sometimes I just want quiet. I want peace. I want a moment to myself that is not between the hours of 10:00 pm and 1:00 am. I’m wondering what was that insane moment when I decided to become a parent and why.
Sometimes, the words of an Amy Grant holiday song run through my head:
“Look at us now, rushing around
Trying to buy Christmas peace…
I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night.”
It helps me to know that my crazy days end with a “silent night” even if sometimes that night is really short by the time the last one stops waking up to be re-tucked in and the first one hasn’t yet proclaimed “it’s morning time!” It helps me to try to keep a bigger picture in mind. To understand that the occasional chaos is a temporary and very small aspect of the larger task of raising up three wonderful men and wanting our relationship to continue in peace for years and years to come.
So, this Advent week, I’m going to reflect on peace a bit more, model it more in myself, and encourage it more in the boys. I’m also going to pray that night-time pull-ups will be a bit more super-absorbent, and that we will all work towards peace at home, at work and in the world.