There's such a fine, fine line between a groove and a rut, isn't there? I think we're doing okay, although there are a few weird moments in each day that cause me to question our decision not to pursue development of a child-safe tranquilizer gun. Small doses at supper would make the meal infinitely less stressful. Larger doses around, oh, say one or two in the afternoon would create a lovely naptime reprieve. And if we could add an infant/puppy dose, oh, the things we could accomplish after supper!
Alas, that's not how God intended life to go. And it's good. Even when your children try to make their siblings laugh with milk in their mouths (and succeed...) Even when, among the four children, someone is awake 24 hours a day (two someones, since that necessitates a partially responsible adult to monitor the activity and/or gas level of alert child...) Even when the toddler is sporting a goose-egg atop a goose-egg and if you lay him down, his profile is beginning to resemble the Grand Tetons.
Yes, even with all of that, and the countless other, "OK, who thought that was a good idea?" moments, it's still not a rut. It's a groove. It's the choppy flow of life's rapids and the winding curves that bring new adventure around each corner. It's what makes you turn to your spouse with a big, maniac grin and shout over the din, "Hold on! This one's gonna be fun!"
And thankfully, those are just moments in the day. They don't comprise the entire day (well, not every day, anyway). Interspersed among the chaotic, hair-pulling, milk sopping, diaper blowing moments are the other ones, the pay off. That's where you discover that your eldest child has a phenomenal grasp of the absurd, and a great sense of humor that you really, truly enjoy. It's in those spaces between the grooves (ruts?) that you see your second child cuddling and singing to one of his siblings, rocking her to sleep, gently kissing her brow, and you realize his dragon-slaying nature is also very deeply rooted in the home. If you look at your toddler between the "no's" and the fits, you see a happy, silly little guy who loves to dance nekkid in the living room, thinks the greatest thrill in life is to make his brothers smile, and gives tremendous spontaneous hugs for no apparent reason other than that he loves you more than anything. And at the end of the day, when everyone is tucked in, read to, kissed and hugged, and you curl up with the baby, you realize the potential yet to be released in this little life, too.
I can't say if we're accomplishing much, or not. It doesn't matter. We're enjoying the trip, riding the rapids, laughing at the spray, and teaching our little ones to navigate the waters themselves. Sometimes they throw an oar overboard and we look at each other in total astonishment, wondering what we're doing wrong. Then we realize, we aren't doing anything wrong. They're little. They do that. That is why we're here. With spare oars, big hugs, and the ability to show them how to use the oar and why it shouldn't be tossed overboard. When the river widens, we enjoy a break on the beach, pick flowers, tell stories, enjoy the view.
And just think, when it's all said and done, in the end, we get to kick back in the fully customized houseboat and watch them wonder why their little one just tossed an oar at his brother's head! We'll know, and we'll know it'll be okay, too, because we recognize a good groove when we see it.
Oh, yes, kiss those babies!