Numbering my Days

quinn

The week after the melodrama, we nearly always get sick. Because of this, depending on our level of misery, we may take a day or we might take three, to sufferandcomplain rest and commiserate, and then, when the sinuses clear and the headaches ease up a bit, I start making elaborate to-do lists–again–in the attempt to catch up, already!

Running a small farm like ours takes daily maintenance, as well as lists of weekend chores–never mindΒ factoring in kitchen remodels, melodrama, homeschooling, and the like–so if you indulge in taking a few weeks off to produce a melodrama πŸ™‚ (it’s quite a fun indulgence) with a noisy pack of enthusiastic and talented home school kids, you’d better believe that you’re going to have to put in the work and catch up eventually, when it’s all over.

By. The. Way. For those of you who wonder (and will even ask) about how I get so much done, this post ought to give you hope. Because, many days, I don’t.

annea

Read on.

Yesterday was lovely–when you get sunshine and upper-forties in January, why, you make hay while that sun shines! In my case, I decided that it was a good day to clean out the chicken coop (a time-consuming chore that I get at twice a year, usually), AND haul a load of grain from the elevator to feed my chooks for the rest of the winter; AND spread compost in the hoop house and run the sprinkler in there for a bit. Those three chores were at the top of my list–heck, they were my list–and I got out and at it relatively early. Well, before I could get to them, I hung out two loads of laundry, made the wood fires, and made sure that everybody–and everything–was fed. You know.

I had my MP3 player on me (I’m listening to The Outsiders right now, by Malcolm Gladwell), figuring I’d be alone outside most of the morning–well, except for the dogs and the chickens.

But I figured wrong. Mack followed me outside, asking me—-please, Mom?—if I would come look at something with him. “Look at what?” I asked, chomping at the proverbial bit to get started on those chores. Glancing toward the chicken coop. Feeling the itch to just get at it, already. I could already feel the sense of accomplishment that would soon be mine, to get so much done in one day.

“Just come. Come and see. It’s difficult to describe.”

I already had my work gloves on. I looked hard at my son, his face full of longing. “Tell ya what . . . ” I began, intending to make one of those bargains that parents like to make, such as “I’ll work for an hour, then I’ll take a break and come see—”

“Noooooo!” he moaned. His face crumpled. “Just come now. Please. Mom.” Just a couple of hours ago, I had put down my requests before my Father, who is intent, I’m sure, on answering prayers but also on growing my heart the way it ought to be growing. I had asked for a productive day. I had asked that I would choose the most important things to accomplish. I had asked for wisdom in making these choices.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Ps 90:12

By the time little Mack zips down our driveway, off to college or whatever, with very little need of me (he’ll think, anyway), after all, I will have been a full-time mama for nearly forty years. I think I’m probably breaking a record, in modern days anyways, or at least I’m in the top echelon of this category of mamas who have a very long full-time child-rearing “season.” My days now look very different from my days when I had six children at home. But they are no less full. Those of you with a houseful of young’uns right now probably can’t imagine this.

The days are changing–always changing. I can run errands now without a car full of kiddos, so I can move faster, but I have fewer hands to help at home, so I do more work. I have fewer worries with fewer kids at home, and more worries with kids that are living away. Everything changes.

GIRLSS

There are days, Gentle Reader, when I would have had no choice but to gently tell my little Mack “no, I can’t do that right now,” in fact we’ve had a lot of those days lately. BUT this was not one of those days. The chicken coop, and my hoop house, and all the outside tidying that I was intending to do, could wait a few hours or even a day or two, I knew. The weather was supposed to hold all weekend, and in fact those chores, I knew, could wait another month or two if necessary.

So I said yes to my little boy. We went on a long walk, first. I wish I would have had my camera at that time. He took me to all his favorite spots on our place, from one corner to the next. Then he plucked a handful of fraying cattails for me, a sure sign of love and affection from a 9-year-old boy.

He took me to his “private thinking spot.” He showed me the little shelter he was building, and we discussed what his next step in construction might be. He showed me two bunny burrows that he had discovered (he dearly wants to trap a rabbit, so I can make him rabbit pot pie). πŸ™‚ We checked out the pond for ice skating (a no, it’s full of puddles now). We checked out the thistle situation in the woodlot (don’t ask). We mushed through the drifts in the windbreak (where the trees are at last canopying and meshing and doing what they are supposed to do).

We watched the chickens for as long as we wanted.

I spread out some spent radishes from my hoop house. The chickens were cautious at first, since we were standing there.

I spread out some spent radishes from my hoop house. The chickens were cautious at first, since we were standing there.

chks2

Our pretty Icelandic rooster, Thor, came to check out the situation. I pointed out to Mack what a gentleman he was.

Our pretty Icelandic rooster, Thor, came to check out the situation. I pointed out to Mack what a gentleman he was. A bossy gentleman, but a gentleman, nonetheless.

Thor pulled out a spray or two of green, dropped it, and called the hens.

Thor pulled out a spray or two of green, dropped it, and called the hens.

They came. He fussed. They ate. He bossed them around.

They came. He fussed. They ate. He bossed them around. He watched over them.

More came. He kept insisting that they eat: "Eat, eat, they won't stay green forever . . . "

More hens came. He kept insisting that they eat: “Eat, eat, they won’t stay green forever . . . See?”

When he was satisfied that they were doing what he wanted them to do, he preened and posed, all while keeping a gimlet eye on US.

When he was satisfied that they were doing what he wanted them to do, he preened and posed, all while keeping a gimlet eye on US.

We went to the hoop house, to put some water on the greens in the cold frames. After all, we could hook up the hose on such a pleasant day.

baby kale--it still lives, happily!

baby kale–it still lives, happily!

This purple mustard is my FAVORITE THING EVER.

This purple mustard is my FAVORITE THING EVER.

 

It was WARM in here, and smelled so sweet.

It was WARM in here, and smelled so sweet. Like dirt. And the promise of spring. That was the smell.

And then. Mack, who had run on ahead of me, let out a shrill scream. “Mom! Mom! Moooooommmm!” He was looking down at something in the brown grass at his feet. I hurried to him, wondering–what on earth–??

Three years ago we gave Mack a very special present: something he had been pining for since infancy (practically): a bonafide Swiss Army Knife. It was a big one, with lots of handy tools on it. He had been ecstatic. So grateful. It was the perfect present. Until he lost it. Almost immediately.

The loss of that knife has been a canker in his side (and mine!) ever since. He has actually received two or three other Swiss army knives since, but none of them were his Birthday Swiss. Ergo. None of them were as good. Of course.

So look at what he found.

yes

It wasn’t his Birthday Swiss.

knife

But it was one of the others, that he didn’t even realize he had lost! (And yes, that’s my jacket that he is wearing.)

By the end of the afternoon, we were both refreshed by the sunshine and the time together, that I didn’t even care that I didn’t get much work done.

And if Mack’s big smile was any indication, I do think I chose the correct course for the day.

*hugs*

 

11 thoughts on “Numbering my Days

  1. Diane Young Decker

    My dear cousin, you did get your day’s work done. You were meant to spend that time nurturing that last child of yours, spending time enjoying each other and your wonderful home. Too often, the last child gets the short end of his parents’ time, as they are so involved in the activities of the older children, or, like me, just plain too tired. Your Mack will remember that day always. What better work could there ever be than to help grow a little boy into a fine young man.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Diane, you do have a way with words. I agree with you that the temptation is to be so busy with so many things that the last child gets left behind in the hubbub. I love this: “What better work could there ever be than to help grow a little boy into a fine young man.” Thank you, as always, for your encouragement. <3

  2. Nathana Clay

    I am trying to remind myself of this too. I’ve been reading One Thousand Gifts and I am trying to learn to capture each moment with thanksgiving. I have long known that thanksgiving is what keeps us connected to joy in many ways. But it was good for me to read this when I woke up because (though she’s been doing great lately) Rebekah had a rough night last night, we’d had a busy weekend, and I sometimes get discouraged thinking of all I didn’t get done and all I need to get to still . . . But I know that many years from now I will not regret putting off laundry or even blogging because I was spending time with Rebekah. But I would regret missing out on time with her. And she has a way of commanding my full attention. If I get on my phone while nursing her, she swats it away. If I try to work on the computer while she plays, she decides my computer looks like a fun toy. So, I am learning that fully engaging with her, even when other things seem so important, is the choice that brings true joy.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Nathana,
      I think with the explosion of the internet, it’s so much harder for young mamas to focus on their littles (when the littles really need it) than it was when I was a young mom. I had chores and the daily newspaper that I hankered to spend time reading, but not hundreds–thousands!–of websites, business opportunities, visual images, etc., to distract me. My (unsolicited) advice? Do whatever work you may have to do on the computer—blogging or whatever—after you’ve invested in time with Rebekah—play with her, read to her, look her deep into the eyes. In my experience, if you meet their needs first, they’ll be more content to keep themselves entertained. And if not–who cares? Nothing you do (no offense) is as important as raising a healthy, content, stable little person who knows without a shadow of a doubt that she is loved body and soul by her mama. For my part–with older kids–I try to do my blogging work very early in the morning, then I click my laptop closed and don’t open it again until late afternoon, when the kids are doing their reading and math hours. Works for me!

  3. Sharon H

    Oh, what a joy to read this first thing in my morning mail! I just “found” your blog yesterday, loved it so much I immediately searched for the “sign me up for emails” button.
    I’m happy you chose Mack over mucking…..and so is our Father, but He knew you would πŸ˜‰
    My days are numbered….and I tell my grandkids that all the time…the older I get, the fewer days I have, so they need to come for a visit! They just laugh, because they think I will live forever! And I will, just not here among them….
    I look forward to reading more about your interesting life. Blessings to you and your family.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Sharon, my world is so full (as I’m sure yours is!) that some days it’s just hard to distinguish what’s most important. And then others (like the day I wrote about) it’s patently obvious. Thanks for your kind words. πŸ™‚

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