Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Wishing Game

Dennis and I have found that as each child ages, the challenges don’t disappear, but they change a bit.  With Asher and Eowyn now 19 months old and weaned, certain aspects of daily life are easier and some are more challenging, like saving them both from cracking their skulls open because they like to climb on the tables in every room. 

What I’ve noticed about both of us in the last couple of months is that we play the wishing game a bit too much.  It’s the game where you imagine a scenario that can only be obtained when your youngest child(ren) are older.  For instance, when we were at the library with Sam and Wren, who were contentedly building blocks and reading books while me and D ran two separate directions trying to catch rogue toddlers, we talked about how we can’t wait for the days when the twins are old enough to sit and relax at the library.  We constantly wish for uninterrupted sleep.  When we had to leave a playdate after two very fulfilling hours last week, I actually wished for the day Ash and Eowyn are finished with naps so we can stay somewhere as long as we want, unencumbered by the sleep needs of others. 

Here are the issues with the wishing game:  we’re a middle class suburban family with healthy kids living the life full of only 1st world problems, so complaining about our current situation shouldn’t be a hobby.  And, worst of all, the wishing game steals gratitude and joy.

Plus, it kind of doesn’t make sense because we love where we are right now.  The girls give me kisses when I ask, they hum the tune to “Arky Arky”, they chat with each other and crack themselves up daily.  That’s why the little wishes, the not-so-very-important wants, are so devastating: we’re happy here, in the now.  So why don’t we just talk about all we’re thankful for and not what we would change?

As I asked this question, God provided the answer with a new game.  When I started doing the math in my head of how old Eowyn and Asher would have to be before we could have a homeschool day at the park, supervised only by me, stay for many hours with the chance of someone darting for traffic being slim to none, God put another questions inside my head: How old will the older kids be? 

See, it’s different imaging Wren as a nine-year-old or Sammy as a seven-year-old.  I don’t know why.  Imagining the twins turning two in June can cause me to break out in hives, but thinking about wishing Wren and Sam into pre-teen years and out of the house sooner, well, I had to catch my breath.  Because I’m wishing them all away sooner with this little game, for the sake of some kind of imaginary convenience that I’m seasoned enough to know doesn’t really exist.  By thinking when this phase is over or when the kids have just reached this mark, or so on and so forth, I am essentially wishing away a time in my life that I love more than any I’ve known.  I feel at home, though a little clumsy, in my mommy-of-little-people role.  Embracing it with gratitude would be the appropriate response. 

That’s why I’m working on re-memorizing Philippians 4:8.  I may have it tattooed on my body somewhere because it’s easy to complain about being awake at two am comforting wee ones, but why not mention the way they curl under my arms and snuggle up against my neck, their breath warm and even just because I’m there?  And I could go on and on about the phantom leak soaking our living room carpet, possibly leading to issues with mold, but why not be happy for warranty companies and roofs over heads?  And clothes that didn’t quite make the hamper, art supplies constantly decorating the house, 10 minutes just to load and unload little people from the van?  I wouldn’t give it up for anything.  I need to praise God for where I am now, because I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

The climbers.  Asher on the left doing the head tilt.