The first gift was that we made it to church on Sunday, Mothers' Day 2013. This is not something I take for granted! Three of our kids recently had colds that lingered for almost two weeks and kept us away from church the previous week, and I debated about whether or not to come this Sunday as well. But we got up that morning and found everyone's nose clean, so we dressed up, loaded up and showed up. And anyone who has ever done the solo-parenting-on-Sundays routine knows what a triumph that can be in and of itself!
Secondly, Graham gave me a wonderful Mothers' Day present when we got home from church that afternoon. That is, he took a nap that was long enough to allow me to get a nap as well! This is quite unusual, and I didn't expect it. But I sure did enjoy it.
Thirdly, Dave got home from church around 3:15 pm. That is reeeeally good, as lately it's been more like 6:00 pm. He comes home pretty trashed after working the long weekend, and he really needs a chance to rest before dinner. This way has still some life in him after the kids go to bed, and I get to hang out with him a little. So he made it home nice and early, took a nap with me, and, we were both awake and reenergized before dinnertime rolled around.
(Now, backing up, the thing is that Dave threw his back out on the Tuesday before Mothers' Day. He's had minor back discomfort for years, but this was the first crisis. He bent over to pick up a bath toy after his shower that morning, and--there it went. He could barely move for the rest of the day; he spent the whole day in bed under the tender ministrations of yours truly, and some of the next day too. Those two funky days threw our whole week slightly off-kilter. Dave didn't have the chance to do any Mothers' Day prep with the kids at all, so when he arrived home on Sunday, there were no cards or gifts or anything in store. [Which was no big deal.])
Since it was a perfectly gorgeous afternoon, and since we had no urgent celebratory plans, I asked if we could take a Mothers' Day family walk. Everyone enthusiastically agreed. As always, it took entirely too long to get out the door. Graham chose that moment to present me with a disgusting diaper that somehow filled up his overalls more than the diaper itself. Once I got that cleaned up we were at least 20 minutes later than we had planned to be, and we knew everyone would be hungry soon. But we bravely set out toward our neighborhood trail, enjoying the breeze and the flickering leaves and the golden late-day sun.
We had covered less than two blocks when Esme wiped out. I had noticed, just after I closed our front door, that she was wearing her Crocs, which are slightly too big for her and not supposed to be worn for outdoor play. But we were already running so much behind, I didn't want to stop and have her change. Needless to say, she tripped on the shoes and hit the side walk flat out. Dave and I were several yards behind her, but I thought I saw her head snap back as if her chin had hit the concrete. I ran up, cradled her in my arms, and sure enough--blood was filling her mouth. She sobbed, gasping and sputtering, and sprayed blood all over both of us. I got to my feet. Dave tried to take her from me, but I knew he was still trying to take it easy on his back, so I shrugged him off. I carried my wailing girl home as Dave followed with the stroller and the other kids, one of whom was also wailing for fear that Esme was seriously injured.
By God's grace, the cut in Esme's upper lip wasn't too deep, and the bleeding stopped fairly quickly. Of course, our walk was over, and I was disappointed about that. But then Dave took the two big kids to pick up Chipotle take-out (for my Moms' Day treat) and some ice cream (for our puffy-lipped child), and I put on some Pocoyo for Esme to watch while she sucked her ice pack. When Dave came back, we ate yummy burritos and tacos, then put the kids to bed. My final gift of the day was watching Lincoln with my honey, who picked it up when he was out getting food. We missed it when it was in theaters and have been waiting for our chance to rent it. It was well worth the wait. (And I finally stooped begrudging the Best Actor Oscar to Daniel Day Lewis, having wanted Hugh Jackman of Les Miserables to win it originally.)
On Monday, Dave took the kids out so they could choose gifts and make cards, and we had our little gift-opening party that afternoon. I received a beautiful blue summer scarf (Meg), a super nifty rotary cheese-grater for parmesan and such (Matthew), a lovely scented candle (Esme), and a new salad spinner (Graham/Daddy). (I specifically requested that last item. Our old one fell off the top of the refrigerator one or two times too many and was scarcely functional.)
Most of the week since then has been taken up with nursing Graham through a "mystery virus," as our pediatrician called it. His only serious symptoms were a fever that lasted the better part of four days, and an extremely lousy attitude. Of course, that's been enough to require that we lay low and cancel or postpone all daytime plans.
My kids have had plenty of fevers before, and at higher temperatures than Graham's highest of the week. But for some reason (could be that this week was also my monthly, hormonally-dictated emotional low), I was much more tempted to anxiety and fearful imaginings over this fever than I can ever remember being before. Last night at bedtime, Graham was finally fever-free, and he slept all the way through the night last night, unmedicated and untroubled. And yet I find that my anxiety lingers today; is he still more cranky than usual, or is it me? Is it teeth, or something else? Why has he been falling asleep in his high chair all of the sudden? He never used to do that.
When at last I settled down to seek refuge from my own thoughts in God's Word last night, I opened to Psalm 11 and read this:
In the Lord I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
"Flee like a bird to your mountain,
for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"
The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord's throne is in heaven;
his eyelids eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
The Lord tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
Let him rain coals on the wicked;
fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.
"The Lord is in his holy temple." Come what may, God still reigns over the world in holiness, in majesty, in power, in justice. When I can stay there--right there--then my heart is at peace. And at the end of a long and tiring week, knowing where to find peace is the gift I need most of all.