Jason and I have been doing this parenting gig for just shy of 18 entire years. That is 6,566 days (and counting) that we have been caring and tending to the needs of at least one McFarland son.
6,566 days of almost always putting someone else’s needs before my own. (There were a couple of really bad migraine days and a few times someone shared the flu with me when I absolutely could NOT get out of bed . . . but otherwise always putting someone else at the front of the line.)
6,566 days filled to the brim with things I feel just sort of neutral about. Laundry. I don’t particularly mind doing laundry – but doing the laundry certainly doesn’t fill my heart with joy either. I do laundry because clean clothing is nice.
Dishes. I am the same way about dishes that I am with laundry. I don’t mind loading the dishwasher – but again I never – ever find myself thinking – “Wow – I really would love to wash some dishes right this very minute!?!” Nope – I do the dishes because I prefer using clean dishes.
6,566 days of preparing breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. I cook to feed my family nutritious – healthy food. I do not cook for joy. Cooking is neither my hobby nor my happy place. Food is fuel – plain and simple. I cook “real” food (most of the time) because the processed stuff that pretends to be food gives me the creeps! But I only cook 3 or so times a week. The rest of the time we eat leftovers and fresh fruits and veggies. (If anyone gets bored or wants something different – everyone but the youngest McFarland knows how to cook too!)
6,566 days of finding stuff that isn’t mine. This is this an odd part of motherhood. No one warns you about this bit. Folks tell you about the teething and temper tantrums and teenage angst – but nothing about the need to keep track of every single item anyone in your care and charge might need or want. Seriously – children should come with warning stickers that read – “Warning: Has a tendency to misplace – mislay – and generally lose everything!” I find it truly amusing the way our sons always think I know where everything in our family’s orbit is located and honestly I almost always do. The duct tape – the para-cord – the kitty litter scoop (only I know where this is and how to use it . . . ) – the extra applesauce – the umbrellas – their shoes – their DAD!!!, etc. If it belongs to a McFarland – I likely know where to find it – freaky . . .
The errands – the cooking – the laundry – these are the things that make up much of our lives (parent or not). I don’t mind them. I want our children to eat healthy food and to find their long lost shoes and their misplaced dad.
But what really fills my heart with joy are moments like I shared with Will on Friday. These are the moments I sense I will remember when I reflect back over my life in the years to come. These are the moments that fill me with joy and contentment and peace. These are the moments that make me smile when I am living them and when remember them. These are the moments I long to have more and more and more of. These are the moments that add richness and depth to life.
Will and I went exploring all by ourselves on Friday afternoon. The big McFarland men both had to work – but we were both foot loose and fancy free. So we decided to make the most of it. After lunch we packed our bags – gathered the nets – and set forth for the great outdoors. The sun was shining. The sky was blue. It was summer in Kentucky and the river was calling our names LOUDLY! We just couldn’t stay home on a day like Friday. Friday was designed by the good Lord above to get out there and delight in his glorious creation. And we DID!
I also delighted in this one on one time with my little guy who isn’t staying little!
Will played with his planes in the river. There were all sorts of flights that landed safely and some flights that landed not so safely on the shores of Floyds Fork River. He really – really wants to be an airline pilot when he grows up. I seriously hope his fascination with crashing planes lessens with time!?! There is NO way anyone is going to let him near a cockpit as long as he keeps reenacting historic plane crashes with his toys with such terrifying accuracy.
I listened to his chatter and knit.
I walked slowly up and down the shore looking and listening and delighting in being someplace without all of the noise and bustle of “modern” life. I truly am a tree hugger all the way down to my very soul.
I noticed beauty all around us.
There were tiny – tiny flowers growing along the shore.
There were leaves that were delicate and skeletal.
There were bright splashes of unexpected color.
There were intriguing pieces of bark that had me lingering to take in their swirls and sploshes and layers of color.
William also spent time seeking and seeing and exploring. He found fish!
He found crawdads!
He found toads! AND he found snakes.
In fact – Will McFarland caught his very first water snake ALL by HIMSELF on Friday. Always before the snake catching and handling had been a two-man task that required our Jack. But on Friday – William caught his first snake!!! And she was beautiful and feisty!
I was so proud (and so were Jason and Jack). This was a big day in our family (and yes – I know how odd that likely sounds to many – many – many of you)! We are all nutty about nature. This cannot be denied.
Will and I savored life on Friday afternoon by the river.
Savoring life can be hard. There is so much pressure to always be on the move. To do more and more and more. To never – ever slow down. To always be on-line and to always be hooked up to a screen. To always be friending and liking and in the loop.
I understand. I do.
But – I also know when I reflect back over the last month – when I remember this summer during the long winter months that are coming – I will remember these trips to the river. I will remember Will’s first snake. I will remember the feel of the hot summer sun on my shoulders and the sight of a tiny pink flower growing along the shore of the river.
I will remember and I will give thanks that I took the time to savor a summer afternoon. I will remember and be so very thankful I didn’t decide that we were simply too busy. I will remember and feel gratitude for a simple – quiet afternoon with my littlest guy exploring and delighting and listening and chatting and chattering and snacking and watching and just being for 4 hours along a small stretch of the river in our hometown.
I will and I do give thanks for God’s blessings and for this life (I am far from perfect at this – but I try). I hope you too take some time this week to savor life and God’s blessings. Slow down for a moment. Look – listen – just breathe – reflect. Give thanks.
You are all in my heart – thoughts – and prayers.
In Christ and with Love –