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Three snapshots of life in our household:
Yesterday morning, Peter finds Penny and William in the playroom. William in a chair, Penny facing him, sitting on his lap and coloring his face. Yes. His face. She’d already finished his head, neck, and clothing. He’d done a number on her hands, nose, and left cheek. I had just gotten out of the shower, and he brings them into the bathroom to get cleaned up.
“Markers are for paper, Mama,” Penny says.
After changing William’s diaper, I walk into the playroom. Penny is on the couch, her hands folded together, head down. I hear her say, “Pray for Jesus, Amen.” (She gets “for” and “to” confused. I think she meant Pray to Jesus.)
“What were you doing, Pen?”
“Sirens outside,” she says. “Praying for the people.”
I come home from yoga class last night, and William runs to greet me at the front door. He is pointing into the playroom, standing on tiptoe so I know it’s important. “[Word I don’t understand] Iding!”
“[Word I don’t understand that starts with “s”] Iding!”
“Sun hiding. Dark outside.” Of course. Thank you, William, for letting me know.
My old friend Stefan Lanfer has written a book, The Faith of a Child. It’s a dad’s perspective on childrearing, and it comes endorsed by Peter (“I was able to read it and relate to the stories while watching William and watching football. What more could a dad want?”). In the introduction, Stefan writes about the experience of preparing to be a dad, in which countless other men patted him on the back and said something terribly encouraging such as, “See you in ten years!”
And sometimes I have that attitude: put my head down and muscle through the sleepless nights and poop on the floor (that’s story number four, which I’ve spared you), the doctors’ visits and repeated questions. Muscle through because it will all be over eventually.
But then what? The thing is, I’m not going to emerge in ten or twenty or thirty years and be the same person I was before children. Or at least, let’s hope not. Right now, this experience of potty training and sweeping the kitchen floor five times a day and having a tea party with my son (his two favorite activities are tea parties and trucks), this experience is changing me.
So don’t wait to check in with me in ten years, because I hope the person I am now will be a different person than I am now–a little more tolerant of mess. A little more aware of people in need. A little more prayerful. And still delighted by my children sharing their world with me.