Because I have a lot of odds and ends in my head...
The recent wave of tragedies in the online community has left me feeling shaky, with a whole jumble of emotions. I don't feel like I ought to post anything normal when the worlds of so many are anything but. I wonder what there is to say. What do you say to a family that has lost a child? There isn't anything. It's an event that renders us all shocked and mute. I try to turn the shock into me being a better parent. I take that extra deep breath when one of the kids has done something infuriating. I take that extra deep breath when the toys and laundry have piled up, and I pick up the paintbrush to paint with the child who wants to paint instead of picking up the laundry. The laundry will wait for later. But will the painting wait? No. I think it will not.
So on the one hand I am continually turning these events over in my mind, feeling terrible for those who have lost their children, and on the other hand, I dread going online anymore, fearing more bad news. I pray fervrently for an uneventful, unremarkable, unknown life. I feel selfish when I do. I feel as if I am completely focused on myself. In reality, I pray for comfort for those families in mourning -- I pray most fervrently for that, too -- but when I pray for the hum-drum, I am really praying for my children. I am praying for them to grow up and grow old. I am praying for them to outlive me. I used to want to be famous. My dream was to write and publish books, to see my name in print, to be able to go into a bookstore and pick up my own book and smell that book-smell when I rifled the pages. But now I see that I would hand God all the books I could ever write if it meant keeping my family safe.
Which, of course, I can't do. I can't keep them safe. And you know, this gets right at the hardest thing, the biggest obstacle I have in contemplating more children. The worry. The constant anxiety at not being able to keep them from getting sick, or having to wrestle with Tourette Syndrome, or falling on their bicycles and needing to be rushed to the ER, or maybe another child will have a febrile seizure while eating a cookie and nearly choke to death... I can find so many things to worry about. By nature, I am a worrier. I don't watch the news. I don't read the headlines. I can't and function on a daily basis. I know that I am called to have faith, but faith is hard. Faith is not a noun. Faith is a verb. It's a constant process, day after day, like climbing a rock wall and learning not to look down.
So I put aside my stack of books to read, because all of them seem to be... well, depressing. Dystopian. I need something boring and ordinary. Today I read the Dick Blick catalog. The Dick Blick catalog is actually fascinating. I learned a lot about the purpose of mixing media for acrylic paint, and the effects of paper on paint, and that canvas is not that expensive. I learned that you can mix your own oils and acrylics. I learned how pastels are made. I learned about Japanese paper. The Dick Blick catalog turned out to be just what I needed.
We've actually been sick here for the past couple weeks -- nothing serious, just a cold -- and are just starting to feel better. I had to cancel the Little Flowers/Blue Knights meeting we were supposed to have here on Sunday. Wednesday Gareth did actually fall off his bike and need a trip to the ER: 6 staples in a cut on his leg, about which he was remarkably calm. Today is gorgeous -- sunny and 78 degrees -- and so I called off school this afternoon so everyone could get outside. Katydid spent two hours doing watercolor. I sometimes wonder whether all my "plans" don't interfere with the real learning that could go on around here if I would get out of the way.
There was a lot of laundry to do, but I sat down with Katydid and Farmerboy this afternoon to experiment with wet-on-wet painting. My little tree leaves (it wasn't supposed to be a pun, honest) a lot to be desired, but it's a start. I'm thinking maybe that I will call off school on every Friday, so I can enjoy the kids and writing and reading and painting and a sunny day. We do our extra chores in the morning, and then -- it's nice to have a companionable afternoon, so very ordinary.
There are a lot of things to be said for ordinary life. Yesterday morning we walked into the dining room and found that the prisms on the nature table had been placed just right to reflect a vivid rainbow over the crucifix that hangs above the door to the kitchen. We were all amazed. Someone moved the prisms and the rainbow disappeared and we never could get them back to the place where they cast their light on the Cross. I felt that I had been given a gift. I wish I had thought to take a picture right then, but it didn't occur to me that I might be able to take pictures of the rainbows until later, when the kids were playing with them.
Lord, whose ways are beyond understanding,
listen to the prayers of your faithful people:
that those weighed down by grief
at the loss of this [little] child
may we find reassurance in your infinite goodness.