Jack comes downstairs first in the morning on a school day. He puts on a pitiful face like it is the middle of the night, flops into the chair next to me and hopes I will take care of all his needs so he can sleep another thirty minutes. He remembers that’s what I did for him before Kira arrived in our family, but now, the boys are all on their own for making breakfast, doing their morning chores, and getting on their way to school. When Jack was a little boy he would kiss me goodnight and ask, “what’s for breakfast?” and I usually had something in mind to cook for everyone. Then happily he would trot off to bed dreaming about French toast, Belgian waffles, or bacon and eggs. Then the baby fell in my lap, and I started working with the nonprofit too, and one of the first things to go was me cooking breakfast. I defaulted to eliminate the activities they could do for themselves. So here I write from the sofa, sitting Indian style with my computer in my lap for two hours inn the morning. I command when I need to, but mostly happily receive good morning kisses from really cute boys, and wish them well into their day. Occasionally one will say, “do I have to go to school?” I don’t even answer them because the alternative is home school with me and they REALLY don’t want that. Mostly they are talking out loud with their wishful thinking.
I enjoy the procession from Jack’s denial of the day, to Kevin’s sweet kiss, and Jordan’s flying out of bed apologizing for sleeping too long to Kira’s bouncing in her bed calling “mama I up”. All this goes on while I write my blog and insert photos. Jack bicycles off to his school and sends me a text, “here” at the same time Jordan scratches himself awake. Kevin is a machine, does everything in routine quietly, and then goes to the casita to lift weights before walking down to catch his bus. Occasionally I have to snap off the tv from someone who thinks I won’t notice it is on. No tv in the morning, or after school, and preferably not at all, unless they are watching a movie WITH Kira, and she will not budge about seeing all the princess movies that they never watched until she arrived.
Dinner time is the best, everyone funnels into the door after their evening activities in time for Dad to arrive home, and I throw together something simple, admittedly something Costco cooked for me, and we catch up on our day and we laugh. We want to be together. We seem to shrink into each other magnetically when we are all around at the end of the day. Kira’s high chair is drawn up to the table and she finishes the prayer with a hearty AMEN! And AMEENA! That is amen in Lugandan. We last at the table long after she’s finished so she gets down and plays around us the whole time. Sometimes offering kisses to eager recipients, other times singing her own song serenading us off key. But she never wanders away, she wants to be close to us all. She doesn’t want to miss out in the joy. Our talk at the table often gives Craig and I the key opportunities to guide the thinking of our children with some wisdom and in other cases our authority. It is never accusatory or judgmental, but a suggestion to give thought in the direction we suggest. They receive it thoughtfully and respectfully. If someone gets defensive an apology is in order. No one should feel attacked in a family, this is the safe place.
After dinner, dad makes coffee and puts Kira to bath and bed, Jack makes lunches for everyone, and Kevin and Jordan clean up the kitchen. Mama? She’s off duty and watches the action around her. Usually, I sit and knit and continue the chit chat. Amazing. I feel like a queen. It is wonderful now that they are grown and well trained. I want all of my boys to be excellent husbands, helpful in the house, and never acting like there’s women’s work and man’s work. All the work belongs to everyone until it’s all done. Craig is an excellent example to them on how to treat a wife, and be engaged in the housework. And if there are enough children in the family Mama goes off duty. I highly recommend my position to all mamas out there.
Last night, Kevin and Jack took Kira into the pool for the first time this season while Jordan dug a hole in my new garden bed. Dad grilled chicken apple sausages. Lucy ran around with the empty pot when Jordan set the honeysuckle vine into place. Coco sipped water from the drippy faucet after playing with the ribbon Jordan snaked in the grass for her entertainment. I took pictures. I didn’t want to forget how everyone, down to the independent cat, drew towards each other without a summons or request. In my heart I was bursting with gratitude to God for our family, and so full of joy. Yes, in the perfect weather, in that moment I was feeling extreme happiness.
I have been a mama for nineteen years and there are five rascally kids who hug me tight. I thought our family time together was fairly normal. But I’m discovering it is not. While we were out to dinner Saturday night after church at Ruby Tuesday we sat at a big round table in the middle of the restaurant. When we all eat out together I find people watch us closely, and often engage with us as well. We get a lot of smiles at least, and I know that’s because of Kira. When they were small boys every time we went to a restaurant someone would stop at our table and tell us, “your children are so well behaved.” We received those compliments as encouragement and pats on the back. Parenting is hard! We’ll take all the encouragement we can get. This visit though there was a family in the booth where the teenage boy had ear plugs in and his head was down, the dad looked off in one direction, and the mom watched us with a straight blank face. The whole time they waited for their food they didn’t say a word to each other. I wanted to weep for their separateness. Here we were laughing, sharing stories, teasing, one-upping, and rolling playdoh snakes and they didn’t have one word for each other.
I don’t believe my family is perfect, and that I have everything figured out. I’m a student, learning as I go. I’m nearing the end of my job with the boys now and I’m reaping the benefits of hard work, and firm bible centered expectations. We have our flaws, and we rely on God to push us towards solving our problems, and we are working on those, but it brings us closer. I feel a strong poke from God to pray for families who are drifting apart. The fall of America is directly correlated with the fizzling out of the family. With my firm stand on building our family according to God’s instructions in the bible, I believe a family without God at the center and the top will drift and find themselves without one word to say to each other. Come on America, don’t let that happen. Let’s all remember to pray for the hurting families to heal towards one another and not away and that they will welcome the touch of the hand of God. Our church in Katy, Kingsland, has a firm focus on loving God, loving people, one home at a time. That’s the way to reach out to those who are hurting.