One of my favorite comedians has a bit about life with four young children. “Bedtime is a crisis!” he says.
I can relate. In our house breakfast is a crisis (the three-year-old is NOT a morning person), homework after school is a crisis (I’ve forgotten 9 times 7, and I can’t find a calculator), dinner is a crisis (food allergies + general pickiness = misery for mama the cook), and bathtime is always a crisis.
Not long ago, a friend (and father of one small child) stood in my kitchen as I prepared and served a quick lunch for the kids. I take it for granted that feeding so many small children can feel like wrestling a tornado, but my friend had, apparently, never seen anything like it. “Is it always like that? How do you do it?”
Most days I wake up feeling as if waves are crashing just at my heels, and I must rush, rush, rush to keep my head above the water.
Except I know it doesn’t have to be this way. I know this. I’ve felt it.
Sometimes I remember these words of Laura Ingalls Wilder: “She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.”
When the waves threaten to overwhelm me, I stand very still and tell myself, “Now is now.” The beautiful thing about my life in this season is that my now is almost always good. When I let go of the ten next steps, when I give up trying to manage the crisis, I can recognize just how good and just how magical my life is.
When I feed the baby in the rocking chair, I tell myself “This is now.” Suddenly, I notice those big blue eyes, and I give up deciding which job I’ll tackle next.
When the firstborn shrieks about the blood and why oh why did her brother have to lose his tooth while sitting on her white quilt, I hold that baby tooth in my hand and say “This is now.” I remember the moment I first felt its sharpness in his baby gums. Like Laura says, it cannot be forgotten. It can never be a long time ago.
And when the quilt is washed, and the tooth placed beneath his pillow, I go back into their bedrooms. I whisper, “Come and see.”
While we ate dinner, and found lost pajamas, and yelled, and wiped up blood, the world outside was transformed.
We never saw the snow clouds that came and went, but this is now: the whole world washed clean and sparkling. The whole world shining in moonlight.
This is now, and it can never be a long time ago.