Last night, I laid on our bed in complete darkness, but for the moonlight drifting in through open curtains. The boys were “in bed,” playing a sleep-walking game that they persisted in even after losing all night-lights. Harper had finally closed her eyes, after her own game of get-out-of-my-new-big-girl-bed-a-million-times — and so, I was spent. I rested, propped up with pillows, sipping my Corona and gazing out our wall-of-windows into the rayless quiet. I had pretended I was camping, swaying in that most comfortable hammock, my babies snoozing in the tent while I met with the stars, like I used to in Nebraska.
Last night reminded me, that even in our most weary moments, there is still something peaceful and beautiful in the world. Earlier in the evening, I had taken a “time out” in the darkness of the shower room, puzzling the kids who came one-by-one to ask why I was sitting, in the shower, without the light on. Why? “Mommy needs a time out.” Did you do something bad, mommy? When will your timer go beep-beep? Can I have a time out with you? Even in escape, I couldn’t escape these precious people who were driving me to the edge with their noise and wild play, that eventually always leads to fighting and crying. I asked Ezzy to give me one of his magic hugs, and whispered to him that his hugs always made mommy feel better, and that’s why they were magic. He pulled away and said, with serious eyes, “Daddy does magic — the one where he puts the red cloth in his fingers and I blow on it, like pfffff, and when he opens his hand…. it’s gone. But my magic is better.” I agreed with him, and left the shower feeling lighter, though I didn’t get the moments solitude I was after.
In this decision to make our home the center of learning for our kiddos, I have experienced more weariness than in previous months. All of them. Here. At the same time. The brothers! They fight! But when I lay in bed after a long day, or do dishes in silence by candlelight, or stare out windows at the dusk, the soundlessness reminds me what a privilege it is to pour myself out for the ones I love. For the months prior to bringing everyone home for our days, I spent the majority of my energy for the purposes of others — attending meetings, reading and rereading soccer and swimming and school emails, disciplining and begging and cajoling my eldest into doing his homework, fighting battles over backpacks and nametags and forgotten things, attempting to squeeze us — this loud, crazy American family — into the pinhole that is the Japanese cultural standard, a place we will just never fit. I still felt exhausted, but in a different way — exhausted by frustration and misunderstanding and confusion and wondering. Don’t misread what I’m typing: I am not at all saying that attending meetings, supporting soccer, and helping kids obey school standards cannot be a work of holy love. For mothering is “a creative art, which must be shaped by each woman” (Jean Fleming). And this woman is molding a new work for herself.
This — what we are doing now — this exhausts me in a happy way. It utilizes my gifts and spends them to the last penny, each day. I am weary, but similar to champion runner Eric Liddell, I feel God’s pleasure in this weariness.