They say the silliest, randomest, and sometimes awkwardest-and-I-can't-help-but-laugh things. They make funny faces, do strange things, and ask odd questions. They laugh one minute over a joke they've heard a hundred times and then wail the next minute because of something trivial that will soon be forgotten in the next minute.
Because by the time 5:30 pm rolls around, I'm usually ready to surrender my Mom Hat and put on my Call For Dad If You Need Something Hat. Which is good timing, because when Dad walks through the door at 6:00, he drops to the floor and wrestles with the boys (and, you may as well know, his daughter, too) and I have a few minutes to hide from the noise and catch my breath. Even if it means three and a half minutes alone sitting in the dark laundry room on top of the washing machine. It's quiet. I'm alone. And I'm not working or helping or serving or wiping or cleaning or teaching or correcting or medicating or folding.
Dinner is an adventure. And a constant work in progress about using manners, making good conversation, and asking appropriate questions. One boy is impatient, one boy is loud, and one girl is picky. And two parents are doing their best to manage these tendencies with firm and gentle consistency.
Nope - devotions aren't always quiet. Everyone isn't always interested. Everyone isn't always attentive. And, um, everyone isn't even always all present because very likely someone has been excused from the table and asked to wait patiently on their bed until Dad is ready to talk about whatever issue merited being excused from the table.
Then begins the assembly line of showers - as one is exiting the other is entering. Teeth are brushed, jammies are one, and now it's time for something quiet. Rarely a movie, sometimes a game, and usually books. And then it's 7:30 pm and all three kids are in bed and in only a handful of minutes they are all sound asleep. Playing hard all day means sleeping hard all night.
So then the house is finally quiet. But never boring. For every moment of laughter or wail of frustration or argument I've navigated during that day, it's now quiet and I enjoy the time alone to put my house to bed and prepare for a new day.
And while I'm folding laundry or making a list or responding to emails or talking with my husband or arranging school materials for the next day, I stop. Dead in my tracks.
Yeah, maybe I am tired, frustrated, discouraged. I might have needs, desires, and hopes. And, likely I have dirty sinks, soaking pans, and a pile of laundry. But I realize none of that matters.
Have I let the productivity of the day, the memory of laughing moments, the tenderness of cuddling while reading, or the impromptu "I love you Mom's" get lost in the frenzy of bringing the day to a close? Was I so bent on drill and order for the blessed chime of 7:30 pm that I overlooked opportunities to love my kids, disciple their hearts, and encourage their spirits?
In our home, dinner isn't through until Dad has read and explained a piece of God's Word. I appreciate that my kids know the routine, and I treasure that it's become an anticipated and expected part of dinner. Even when there are attitudes or wiggles or interruptions. But did I intercede on their behalf while my husband read them Truth? Did I plead that God would open their ears and hearts to what they heard?
Why, I wonder, do I sometimes just "exist" during the last two hours of the day instead of "thriving" during the time when I have my partner and friend to tag-team with me?
It's no secret: the evening hours aren't typically my favorite. I've ran hard all done and given much of myself to my little ones. But, instead of bemoaning my fatigue or irritation about their constant needs and all that I had to put up with and handle that day, I need an attitude adjustment that proclaims, "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength - because the joy of the Lord is my strength!"