It was actually an accident- I woke up at 4am, my 6 year old curled up at the edge of our queen sized bed like a cat. Ironically, everybody else was soundly sleeping, and I would have liked to be also, but apparently my body was extremely grateful for 6 whole hours of uninterrupted sleep and decided it was high time I get up. I lay back down, hoping to drift back to sleep, but knew all was lost by ten minutes. I decided to make something of it, and head down to the garage for a spin workout.
40 minutes later I decided I was on a roll, so I figured I'd drive to the local coffee shop to grab a couple coffees for my husband and I. Then I made breakfast. All before 7am!
The kids decided they didn't want what I made, but I was feeling too good to let it bother me, so I said...OK, and off they went with empty bellies to play. This was working out really well! I grabbed my daughter's nature study book and found on the first page a tutorial on "how to observe nature". As a lover of nature, studying it is really something that I do without thinking about it. But I really appreciated how the tutorial brought me back to the simplicity of just using our senses and writing down short, descriptive blurbs of what is happening.
So I grabbed a chair, and sat in front of our garden.
I had not been sitting for 30 seconds when I heard a muffled high voice and saw smudgy hands trying to push open the glass door. Okay, I can do this with one child out here...
Sit. Listen. A bird calling. The tall grass bobbing in the morning breeze. The sun peeking out over the neighbor's house. The scraping of manufactured plastic on the bricks, accompanied with bubbly spitting noises. Clammy hands gripping my more squishy than I realized thighs. Play with me! Be this, be this!
I sighed deep, knowing that I would not be able to ease into the sensations of nature. It would have to wait for another time. I felt slightly discouraged since capitalizing on these moments of inspiration didn't come often, but quickly realized the blessing in disguise.
Nature would always be here, but my children would not.
My days are filled with constant interruptions, messes, squabbling, and many other unpleasantries that mothers are all too familiar with. There are days where I wish that my home looked like the Real Simple magazine I scanned through at a midwife appointment one time. But, it will not last forever. In fact, if the old ladies at the grocery store are right, it will go by faster than I realize.
The thought occurred to me- what if I forget what it feels like to have a little baby look into my eyes while I'm feeding her? Will I remember the disgusting feeling of vomit sliding down my shirt or stepping on food that was declared unfit for eating? Will I remember the satisfaction that my husband and I feel after a night of tag teaming and putting our 4 kids to sleep, and hearing no noise from their bedrooms? Will I have answers and funny stories to give to my children, when they are in the throes of child rearing and need encouragement or wisdom? When I am old and wrinkly, and need perspective on my life, will I struggle to draw upon those memories? And if I can muster them up, will I remember them accurately? Will I remember what it was like?
So I put down my notebook and picked up a plastic bear, satisfying the 2 year old beckoning me to play at my thighs, thankful that God had showed me the gems sparkling in the sand.
It took only 2 minutes for her to exhaust the excitement of her game, and then bumbled up the stairs to find her brother and sister. I grabbed my sketch book and sat down at the table and began my observations in my own living room.
What did I see, hear, feel, smell or taste? My living room was a mess; toys scattered on my cabinet, my decorations out of place. I fought the urge to fix it. There was nothing complicated about it, but satisfying knowing that I was beginning a new habit of capturing the fleeting moments of my children's short stay in my home.
I still stop to watch a centipede scurry across the sidewalk, or to listen to a quail in the distance. But I am going to start paying more attention to the wild "animals" in my own home, because they won't be here for long.