It’s 5:45 a.m. I am desperately reaching to find my phone. Its alarm is set on the lowest volume possible so I can shut it off before it is heard by Hayden, who sleeps across the hall. He is 8 years old, a lover of life, and doesn’t mind in the least starting each day at 5:45 a.m. My simple strategy is to creep past that lively nature for a few moments. If I am stealthy, I can get down the stairs, fix a cup of coffee, and have at least half of it enjoyed before he comes bounding down the stairs, dressed and ready to start the day. If I am unsuccessful, which happens more times than not, he will intercept me in the hallway with a hug and an “I love you, Meme” and we go down together.
At 6:20 I call up to Hunter, who sleeps upstairs on the other side of the house. Hunter is 10 going on 20 and absolutely loathes getting up in the morning. No matter how hard he tries as he comes into the kitchen, it takes all of 10 seconds for him to become irritated with his little brother and the growling morning cage-match is on.
Breakfast is eaten while watching a yellow talking sponge. Lunches are made and ready by 7:00, which prompts a “time for the TV to go off” from me so that hair and teeth can be dealt with in time for Michael’s 7:15 entrance into the kitchen for his coffee and announcement that “the polar express will be leaving in 2 minutes.” This is the sanitized, best-case-scenario version of how every day starts.
Of course the end of each day is at least as taxing. Afternoons start at 2:40 with pick up from school, snacks, homework…oh the weeping and gnashing of teeth over homework for two little boys who only want to hit the door and play, play, play till last light fades. It feels as if World War III is fought in some weird Groundhog Day repetition every single day around the kitchen table. Once homework is over, they run for the door. On nice evenings we have to call them in from the lamp post where they are talking with the little girl next door. Baths, family time, snack, and either a brief or dramatic bedtime occurs. By 8:30 everyone is down for the count. Did I mention that my 90-year-old mother-in-law also lives with us?
Lay that thought aside for a moment and picture this. Quiet lunch dates with my husband, impromptu movies after work, late night ice-cream runs, leisurely Saturday mornings, long walks holding hands, sleeping late because you can. This picture is the one in my head for this stage of my life.
If you think I’m complaining, I’m not. Well, maybe a little. But mostly I’m just reporting. This is our life. Hunter and Hayden have been with us for five years. The last two we have had total responsibility for their care. We are full-time “parenting.” When we were raising our children, some 40+ years ago, we had a heck of a lot more energy and, probably, patience. Now our energy and patience is still needed, but less available. Every day, as I pile various objects at the bottom of the stairs, determined not to make one more trip up than absolutely necessary, I am reminded that God has a great sense of humor.
I use those little piles of “stuff” on the stairs to remind myself also that God is all-the-time good. Our grandchildren needed a loving, nurturing home at this stage in their lives, so we committed ourselves to that task. God has blessed us with the means to give these children what they need. More importantly, God has blessed each of us with the love, patience, and kindness to make a family with young ones again at this stage of our life. Thankfully, we have been able to take trips, some short and some lengthy, to re-energize. We are especially grateful for the friends and family who have been able to help us have these times.
Sacrifices are made, cheerfully and willingly, so that two little lives might be directed toward a positive future. Our reward comes when we know we have made an impression, when we see the light come on, when they wrap their arms around us and shout, “I love you” or screech your name in joy when you enter the house. Those days give us the strength and hope to meet the next new day with a smile. We thank God every day for the joy they bring and ask for the endurance we need and eyes of faith to see the blessing in everything. Now if I can just get to the coffee pot without waking Hayden…Shhhh!