Jude woke up yesterday with a tummy ache that very quickly turned into a rather spectacular barf explosion. Happy Valentine's Day! At least he got to the toilet on time--a feat my twins haven't yet mastered. And it's why when I'm loading my dirty clothes into the washer I find splatters of poop, snot and blood all shot across my shirts and jeans. This is my life: elbow-deep in the grit and dirt of daily life with five children.
I have this tendency to view the spills, accidents and illnesses of daily life as frustrating interruptions to my "Real Life." I much prefer living a well-ordered life; a life whose To-Do List is tidily checked off by day's end. But when I view my life through that lens, I become easily disgruntled because life in a big family rarely goes according to plan.
I find that it's better to accept everything with gratitude, as priceless components of my "Real Life." Instead of always looking for an 'exit strategy,' my love is deepened when I accept the trials and triumphs of each day just as they are--barf and all.
There are no "ruined" plans because those plans were never really under my control in the first place. Instead of fixating on my plans, having a bunch of children is teaching me to surrender to the chaos. It forces me to look for love even in the middle of barfing kids, late homework, dirty laundry and burnt dinners. I have to do this because otherwise I'd be a yelling, sweaty, screaming mess of an overwhelmed mother.
And isn't true love measured by the ability to live out the daily hassles and grit of life without succumbing to the temptation of running away or losing my temper?
Yes, I think so.
Love, it seems, is not in the grand gestures or "mountain-top experiences" of life. It's in the daily pouring out, the daily sacrifice of service, the folding of laundry without complaining, the swabbing up of barf without shooting off hysterical text messages to my husband. (Confession: I seriously need to chill on the hysterical THE WORLD IS ENDING text messages).
True love--love that lasts a lifetime--isn't quenched by adversity, but grows and deepens because of it.
The true test of love is not in how it withstands lollipops and roses, but in how it withstands (and triumphs!) through barfy tots and runny noses.