The Sabbath. The Lord’s Day. A day of rest.
When I was a child I thought the Puritan stories of the poor little children having to sit on the parlor sofa in their best clothes and not move all day sounded like torture! Now that I’m grown, and have eight hooligans of my own, I think it sounds divine. Impossible. But still divine.
My husband is the worship leader at our church, so he has to get up early Sunday morning and leave for church in order to set up, run a sound check, and play for the first service. I’m still not convinced that people can actually get to an 8:15 service on time, but my husband assures me that they do. I wouldn’t know. At 8:15 I’m just hustling my two oldest boys out of bed, changing the 4 year old (don’t ask, don’t judge) and the 2 year old’s diapers, and making sure my 5 year old has brushed her hair.
Some mornings I even convince that same 5 year old to pick a different dress to wear than the one she’s worn almost every Sunday this year, but other days I just let it ride. Some Sundays I convince my 2 year old to wear the pants I’ve picked out for him. Other Sundays he goes through more outfit possibilities than a teenage girl.
It seems that whatever can go wrong does on a Sunday. If it were a weekday (any day except Monday. Monday’s are the Devil’s days and should just be skipped all together) no one would have trouble picking clothes to wear, or finding their shoes, or eating breakfast. But on Sunday? Sigh.
One Sunday, after carefully putting a bib on the 2 year old (maybe I should rethink getting them dressed for church before breakfast…) my 8 year old spilled his bowl of cheerios and milk in his lap. I didn’t yell. (It was the Sabbath after all. When your pastor talks about people not acting as holy on Monday as they do on Sunday he’s talking about me.) I didn’t fuss, I just calmly told him to go upstairs and change into a different pair of pants. He came back down with dry clothes and breakfast went on.
Later, as he’s clearing the table, I notice a huge wet spot on the seat of his jeans.
“You didn’t clean up the spilled cereal on your chair before you sat back down?” I ask, possibly rhetorically, although I’m not sure if there is any such thing when you are a parent. Although, to be fair, I hadn’t reminded him to either.
“Umm…” he says.
“Go back upstairs and change again,” I sigh.
Now, all I have to do is clean the kitchen, mix the baby’s special formula. Clean out his G-tube bag, prep a meal for the bag, prep another one in a cooler bag for after church. Check to make sure baby’s oxygen tank is full, change three diapers, make sure everyone is wearing shoes (yes, we have been that family), make sure the girls have brushed their hair, make sure the diaper bags are stocked, and then send the potty trained ones to the bathroom before it’s time to go.
There may or may not be yelling involved in all of this. Hard to say. (I could tell you but then I might lose my Sunday holiness points.)
We’re rushing out the door (is there any other way to exit the house?) and I look at my 8 year old. He’s wearing his little brother’s pants that end about mid-shin, with his white socks and shoes prominently on display underneath. When this is pointed out to him, he explains that his drawers are empty and he has nothing to wear. Now, since I do the laundry, I’m positive that he has another clean pair of jeans; I just have to dig them out of his brother’s drawer.
My older sons have a complicated laundry folding ritual that involves dominance games until the loser is convinced that most of the laundry belongs to him and he has to fold it and put it away. The winner gets to go play which seems like a win until it’s Sunday morning and all his clothes are in his brother’s drawer.
So, I find a clean pair of jeans, I fuss loudly at my son, I yell at the other kids who are doing everything but getting into the car, I threaten several times to pull the car over if people in the backseat don’t stop hitting each other, and arrive at church frazzled, out of breath, and exhausted.
And late. Again.
Where is that Day of Rest?
The new puppy has arrived! He is adorable, sweet, cuddly, loveable, and eats everything in sight. We are learning that reading books and watching The Dog Whisperer is not the same as experiencing things for yourself.
Perhaps I should take this to heart. Like all of us, I excel in certain subjects (Language, Music) and--what’s the opposite of excel? You’d think if I was so great at Language that I would be able to come up with the perfect word here. Let’s just say that I’m not so hot in other subjects (Math, Science). After many failed science experiments (there’s a whole slew of blog post ideas right there), I’ve settled on reading through the experiment with my kids and then watching someone else do the experiment on the TV. Hey, presto! Foolproof science experiments with all the boring assembly and waiting for things to happen bits cut out. But is it the same thing?
Puppy life would say no. No matter how much you read about how your 9 week old puppy needs to potty at least once a night, it’s not the same as waking up night after night to walk him. Reading about how puppies like to chew is no preparation for bringing home a tiny shark with fur. And being warned about the ingestion of non-food items is not the same as seeing a Lego block disappear down a Sarlac-like mouth or finding out that the tree you’ve been letting your pup chew on is actually a toxic holly tree.
In my defense, I didn’t want the tree in the first place. The lawn crew that planted our yard had a few extra “free” trees and stuck them in our yard to be nice. I was super grateful about that when I was on the phone with the vet, worried about a vomiting puppy, and mentally calculating how much that “free” tree was going to cost me in an emergency vet visit. Also, in my defense, you can add Botany to my list of subjects that I don’t excel in. I can tell a palm tree from a pine tree, but beyond that I’ve never really had the time to learn, seeing as plants die so quickly under my “care.” I decided long ago that keeping anything but grass was just plant abuse. Said holly tree is now just a trunk with a few scraggly branches on the top since I took out my frustration and worry with a pair of clippers.
My point is, perhaps if I had done more hands-on science with the kids, I would have known that ingested red berries can cause copious vomiting in dogs, and that, as I am not a falconiforme (aha! I did learn something in science!), I will fail at watching my pup like a hawk. However, I was able to teach my kids how to disinfect a tile floor (Thank God for tile!), how to chop down a tree like Paul Bunyan, and how a quick visit to Amazon Prime can have a puppy safe play-yard delivered to your home in 2 days with free shipping.
Thankfully, puppy Po (from Kung Fu Panda “Big and furry, soft and squishy, sort of plush and cuddly”) is alright. His tummy is back to normal and we have, hopefully, learned an important lesson in puppy care!
You know that family that shows up to church in the 15 passenger van? The one that homeschools? Ever wondered how they make it through the day or wished you could be a fly on the wall of their house? Well, I'm inviting you in. I'm 36 and I ride herd on 8 children (oldest is 12), 3 cats, 2 bearded dragons, and one puppy. It's loud, chaotic, and imperfect. Welcome to Life in the Big House!