There’s something magical about a summer day when the sky is blue and the sun is shining. Giggles fill the air while my girls play in the water; through the sprinkler, down the slide, and into the kiddie pool. The fun of it entertains them for hours. I watch and smile, loving the way the water drips off their wet curls. The birds serenade us and the stillness of everything but my children at play captivates me. After a few moments of soaking it all in, I sip my ice cold Good Girl Moonshine and turn back to my book, a content smile on my lips.
Days like this are perfect. And they never happen. Here is how it actually went down one day just a few weeks ago:
It was a nice day out, the kind of day that you expect kids to run around in the water for hours. So I got out the hose, filled their kiddie pool, and hooked up the sprinkler. I helped all the kids into their suits and smothered them in sunscreen. Then I sat on the deck, prepared to do some reading while the kids played.
About two words into my book one of the girls crawls into my lap and put her hands on my face, forcing me to look at her instead of my book. She doesn’t really want anything so I tell her to go play. I pick my book back up and one of the other girls comes up to me. Again, she doesn’t really need anything so I send her back to play. This happens several times, where in the span of about 15 minutes I maybe read 15 words. At this point, I’m getting a bit irritated. Why can’t my kids just be happy to play?
I let one of the kids settle into my lap where she can sit while I read. A happy compromise. Except that once one child is on my lap the other two think they need to compete for that exact same spot. So now the girls start fighting and my chances of reading anything are gone.
To help smooth out the situation, I tell the twins to get their own chairs from the playhouse and bring them to the deck. That way we all can sit, together, on the deck, in a chair. Separate chairs. They run off to the playhouse to get their chairs but can’t get them out because the door keeps closing on them. I walk over to hold the door open and notice that the hose was left on.
Eve and Vera have learned how to operate the hose, which can be a good thing since they independently re-fill the pool after some water has been splashed out. But this time it definitely was not a good thing. As I walk over to turn off the hose, I see the water that has run off the patio and pooled in the grass. Now I’m really not happy. Because where does that water pool? In the small area of grass that we’ve designated as our flower garden.
If people are born with the gift to grow things then I was born with the opposite. I have an uncanny ability to kill any plant under my care. This year, the girls asked me to plant a flower garden with them. For their sake, I said yes and enlisted the help of our neighbor who grows wonderful things. I dug out a small patch of grass and raked the dirt for about a week to make sure it was loose and ready to receive seeds. I bought the flower seeds, let the girls plant them, and stood guard over them, pulling weeds and making sure they got some water when they needed it. In fact, I was quite proud of my efforts. Me and my brown thumb were actually growing something!
Now those flowers that meant so much to my girls, the ones I worked so hard to give them, were underwater. There was a solid one-to-two inches of water above each plant. And I was downright mad.
I turn off the hose, grab a teacup from the girls toy kitchen on the porch, and start hauling one tiny cup full of water out of that little garden at a time. As I do this, I lecture the girls on not playing with the hose and making sure it is always turned off. I tell them if these flowers die then I am not going to replant them. They need to learn.
At this point, Eve, the one who left the hose on, starts to crumble. I crushed her spirit and that knowledge broke me. In that moment, I realize that I am essentially having an adult temper tantrum because I didn’t get what I wanted – 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to read my book. I give Eve a hug, tell her I am sorry that I acted so angry and that I am not mad at her, but that she does have to be more careful with how she plays with things.
And that book I was so intent on reading? It was my Bible. 2 Corinthians 2:15, in fact, where it talks about how we are the fragrance of Christ. When I realized I was not being the fragrance of Christ to my kids, I was ashamed. I let reading the Bible take precedence over living out what the Bible teaches, and that is not right. There is a time for both.
We all went back to the porch and cuddled into my chair. From that point on, our afternoon was great. We did have fun. We did laugh. We did have the kind of day I wanted to have. And we did it together instead of me pushing my kids aside so I could do my own thing.
Later, as I sat back down to continue reading that day’s chapters, I wrote this note in the margin of my Bible: “Leave the sweet aroma of Christ in your wake. Love.” That day, I was the one who learned a lesson.
And my flowers? They’re fine.