It’s 7h15. Murray has left with Cam who has left his rice crispies on the dining room table. Scott is home with tonsillitis and me. He’s tender and compliant today because the memory is fresh of yesterday and the wooden spoon and my tears. (We went to the doctor and then the pharmacy where he was wild and I reached the zenith of my most-embarrassing-mom-moments. Despite my reproaches hissed low through gritted teeth and a surreptitious smack near the immune booster aisle he ran and skidded and played horsey-horsey on Cam and took several things off several shelves. He also knocked over a life-size cardboard cut-out of Victor Matfield selling vitamins. Mad as hell I righted Victor and of course he was still smiling which kind of made me want to punch in his cardboard face. Then Scott lay on the floor and made imaginary snow angels on the pharmacy tiles and I went red and asked the (thorough.) (slow.) pharmacist please to hurry and avoided all eye contact with onlookers. At home there was the spoon of reckoning and hugs and sobs and profuse murmurings of I sorry Mom I sorry Mom I sorry Mom.)
The heater’s burning in the playroom and I’m trying to write a post for the WordSpace but Scott is in my lap then on my laptop and he’s pushing Ctrl-Z on my thoughts. I give up and hug him and sift emails while he zooms trucks on the couch.
8h45. Scott violently refuses shoes and a jersey but I pick this battle and redouble my incursion and conquer. Warm, we head to the mall to swap the shoes I bought Murray and speak to the home loan guy at the bank and buy mushrooms for tonight’s chicken. Scott behaves beautifully.
Back home he asks for Marmite toast and his blanky and his tummy is ‘too sore’. I microwave a bean bag and drape it warm and cover him and rub his back and sing Jesus loves me and the sun floods in drowsy and he sleeps.
There are emails to answer and texts to send and faraway people to facebook. There are play dates to plan and appointments to make and money to transfer and itineraries to organise. I scan the latest posts of my favourite bloggers and feel inferior.
I leave Scott sleeping while Maria irons and sings and I drive to fetch Cam. He shares fragments of his day but he’s tired and quiet. (Yesterday when I fetched him he mistook another mom for me in front of all his friends and more moms and he was embarrassed so he lashed out. Then he walked into a pole and everything I did for the rest of the day was wrong. So today I’m careful and prayerful.) Cam is supposed to rest when we get home but Scott wakes up so there’s pretend-pretend snoozing for like, five minutes.
Then they play move-to-the-new-house-move-to-the-new-house – but for some reason the new house is in Europe and they’re hiking there in snow jackets. Europe is upstairs and I let it go – the mess they’re making on the spare bed and the cupboards they’re unpacking because I want them to enjoy this magical loft while they have it – to live to the edge of their boundaries in this season, of this home. They want me to play with and I don’t want the chicken to burn so I do intermittent stair climbing and nose wiping and distance cooking all the while wishing I could just switch off the stove and my task-orientation and give myself over to the moment and the make-believe continent on the bed upstairs.
For accountability I’ve put Specials of the week on a chalkboard hanging on the wine rack listing three yum-fancy meals that take time and effort. Because I’m in a cook-what’s-cheap-and-easy rut and I don’t feel like fighting and forcing the boys to try exotic things, like peas. But slow-roasted lamb and masala rotis don’t come naturally to me. Fish fingers and chips. Now that comes naturally. But I’m determined to try harder because there are men in my house, grown and growing, and all the time we’ll spend around food in the decades coming will shape them more than I understand.
I take the boys’ teatime up to Europe in plastic bowls – bananas and Tennis biscuits. Then it’s time for homework. We write Cameron Benjamin Reyburn 0 1 2 3 4 5 a few times over slow and deliberate and oversized and wobbly and I’m convinced he’s the cleverest 5-year old in the known universe. Scott pretends to write his name with earnest, intentional strokes of coloured koki and he’s so kind and exuberant – clapping and exclaiming – ‘Well done, Cam!’ Cam’s memory verse this week is one of the first I ever memorised and I still say it at the dentist: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. I’m newly amazed at the preservation of this ancient text – words to Joshua on the brink of battles – now from the mouth of my son, so little and keen as mustard.
They ride bikes on the stoep and fight and pinch and there are more tears and more smacks and sulking. Some days it feels like all we do is yell and scold and I fail fail fail at keeping my cool. We’re desperate for wisdom to juggle obedience and holiness and grace because how we parent them is shaping their view of God and we can’t afford to drop one of these balls.
Yesterday, the boys were ‘hiking through snow’ (big theme at the moment) on top of a pile of bricks at a friend’s house. Scott fell and scraped his face. Today his lip is looking nasty so we go back to the pharmacy (a different one) for cream and peace of mind.
Coral invites us for tea and the late afternoon is cold with glorious sun and Cam is wearing his gown over his jeans and a cowboy hat. Scott doesn’t make it to the loo so we clean him up and he charges about in a pair of Craig’s Lightning McQueen undies.
How would I describe motherhood today? The exhaustion of savouring furious blessings. And in the savouring and the sacrifice, there’s peace – a ‘universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight – a rich state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Saviour opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights.’ (Cornelius Platinga)