Growing a Great People

So the many days rush by blurring into yet another year… “My how they have grown.” “How old are they now?”, “Look he’s taller than you” – yeh… well… almost!

In the trenches we don’t see or measure these things. We just keep the meals coming and washing folded. Yet truth reigns and another year slips under the radar – hard to measure yet easy to view as friendships deepened, clothes seem to have shrunk as legs have sprouted and confidences have grown.

This Mamma heart swelling with pride as our little troop joined in the Christmas service – violin poised and voices raised. Greeting adults with young manly handshakes and choosing to not take the biggest or be brave enough to say they don’t need yet another slice. Why yes I do see they have grown!

Small army of ours gathered outside on a chilly, windy, Christmas eve dressed as shepherds guarding their little toy flock. Bread poised above a shared pootjie pot of soup. Sparkling eyes, brother banter, voices rising to sing into the Silent Night.

I stand in awe as I survey this festivity our love has created. One Mamma’s heart swollen beyond this created realm.

Sleep evading me I crept out to greet a dark, wet Christmas morn. Enveloped in the predawn the presence of God wrapped around a deep worn heart. Candles flicking Hope into this new season as preparations for the day ahead are being born. One man child emerging from his slumber into the candle light to share his mother’s joy. Unrestrained exuberance digging into his stocking treasure. Full of awe I watch this teetering between unrestrained childishness and embracing the uncharted territory of adulthood as he digs in gleefully, then pauses – looks up grinning, “These were such good ideas for our stockings – Thanks Mom.” Slowly more little souls emerge clutching their loot come join us in the candle light.

Mamma’s heart filled with deep warm oozing love for these great beings from which I daily learn so much. Yet as I survey this my heart breaks. It breaks for my humanity that I carry – how I so easily crumple these precious ones with my careless words and harsh tones. If my Heavenly father spoke and instructed me in the ways I often allow to carelessly slip off my tongue would I want to call him Father? Yet these resilient children of mine look up with eyes brimful of love and endearment. Again my heart breaks. “Father fill me with your wisdom as I raise these souls of yours! Fill me with your thoughts and your words! Fill my well and capacity so deep that my patience expounds all reason and logic.”

As I gingerly reach for each of their gifts they have for me –  from bookmarks to flowers to poems and chubby finger scribbling – each one personally thought of and made just for me, as I watch them thank a sibling for the grapes they have given them or share in the joy of another’s gift – my heart strings pull. Heaven is filled with my prayer – “Oh Father God how did you dare entrust me with these precious children of yours?”

So today as I stand and see the morn of yet another year sprinkling the horizon. As the rays peep over the closing of this chapter and the opening of another new year I cling to the request of Solomon,

“But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people…. So give your servant a discerning  heart to govern your people and to distinguish  between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

“A Great People” – Yes who am I to be entrusted with such as these? Each day this week, month, year – till I begin to get it right – I pray Dear Father help me guard my words and give me wisdom to train these Great People in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it but will instead be ready to do the will of their Father.”  So yes this year they have grown greatly, in all aspects – but above all that they are loved more fiercely by this mamma every day.

 

AAAAHHH – My Ears Hurt

A quiet moment snapped between the craziness of life. A moment of pure uninterrupted thought. A moment, a mere spell of seconds or maybe an hour – until Mom is once again on call. Who would have ever thought of the pure blissful joy of meagre silence, of a consecutive string of orderly thought, being a sanctuary of sanity?  Silence – coherent and my mind fully attentive upon the task at hand I can breathe, once again finding a glimpse of myself!

Before becoming Mom, I had known the stress and strain facing a parent. The sleepless nights, homework, paying more to dine out, as well as being responsible for another person. Never however had I realised that my biggest parenting hurdle was going to be the many little voices in my head. The voice needing some milk, the one telling me they need the loo, the voice arguing over a toy, the voice wanting to know where they left their jacket. So often….. aaaahhhhh…. STOP! My ears – they hurt.

Parenting and raising these little people takes us by surprise. The surprise of our greatest difficulties and strains – the least of which we would have considered and the surprise of the joy discovered in learning to tie a shoelace or noticing a flower in the breeze. Or the pure bliss of silence.

A silence that feeds one deep into the spirit, a silence that warms the soul and draws one out, empowers one to look up and see the warm rays once again. The silence that equips one to breath long and deep, long and deep…. raising one back to your former self. Equipping and enabling one to once again rise up and take up the baton of Mom.

The solitude clears the fog, washes clear the perspective. It enables one to once again hear through the clutter of the needs and wants to the pure, undiluted, “I love yous.”

So Mom when all the little voices are briefly silent, for that brief fleeting moment, grasp the silent reprieve – drink deep, breath deep – fill your Being. Then once again the voices bombard but in them you are able to hear. Hear with clarity not only the need and want but the truth. “I need YOU, I want YOU. You are my all. I love you Mom.”

A Moment in Time

There are those moments – you know them – those ones that never seem to fade but are instead defining, enlightening – often annoying yet always life changing. They are not planned and yet they sever through the mist of the mundane bringing a ray of clarity.

One such moment happened about 11 years ago… I was a stay at home mom, living in a small flat, with no car, in the middle of a busy part of town daily trying to entertain a very demanding 1 year old. I had taken time to try set up different areas to keep him busy. A little splash pool on the veranda, a tiny slide in the lounge, books and toys in his room and a small table for art and drawing. In one corner he had a small chalk board. My moment of enlightenment happened after a busy morning of trying to juggle cleaning, entertaining him, preparing meals and so on…

To keep my boy busy I had given him some chalk soaked in water to draw on black paper. Suddenly everything was very quiet and I realised he had taken the wet chalk to his chalk board – now having been a teacher I was very aware of how difficult it can be to clean wet chalk off a board, especially red chalk! It was in this moment that I found myself say, “Don’t you dare use that chalk on that chalk board!” As the words flew out my mouth, he whirled around bewildered at this bizarre comment – I could only begin to smile. What had I just said? Chalk was made for a chalk board and in reality what was a little wet chalk on a chalk board when other families were dealing with drug abuse and chronic illness?

As I let the reality of the situation and my life sink in I realised that it was time to let go! Let go of my expectations for myself, my home and my children, time to let go of meeting others expectations, and instead create our own personal reality. A reality that worked for our family.

Little did we know that this would set the foundation for what the future held. As after not falling pregnant for 3 years after our first son we went from 1 to 5 children in 2 years! Had I not learned to let go those 3 years before I would be a wreck today! So with a houseful of little people we now only have 4 rules:

1. No one gets hurt (this includes emotionally)

2. Nothing gets broken – you look after everyones things

3. You put away what you took out – before taking something else out

4. We work as a team

I have also set certain parameters for myself such as either we have certain tidy up times each day or we only going to tidy at 5pm. This gives me the freedom to give the children freedom to just be. Hubby and I have also realised that the reality of spending every evening together is something that will need to wait for retirement – so we have had to let go of our expectations in this area too. In the mean time we organise date evenings. We were often short on cash and couldn’t leave very little people with a sitter so we simply decided on a R30 budget and each take a turn once a week to organise a date at home once kids are in bed (we aim for 7pm.) This maybe as simple as hiring a movie, having dinner without the kids, buying a special pudding or playing a board game.

After 15 years of marriage and 7 children later I finally have a lady who comes and helps me clean and a dish washer. But up until now we made it through. Yes there were many tears, many months without luxuries such as cheese, many times we couldn’t join in as the time and money didn’t stretch that far and many days we wore creased clothes or stayed up very late washing a whole day’s dishes but as I learned to let go and as time went by I was able train my children to take control of their own personal domains, cook meals, fold washing etc. So today as I sit holding my 6th baby I know my 9 year old son can bath and dress my 2 year old, my 12 year old can hang the washing and do the dishes and my 7yr old twins can make an amazing salad and set the table. Had I panicked all those years ago I would have rushed out  back to work, only to fund creche and hired help and I would never have had time to train these beautiful children to work alongside their mama. And what fun we have working together!

Who would have though a little wet chalk, 11 years ago would have such a profound impact on the direction that one family would take.

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