Occasionally when our family is out in public and the kids are displaying a rare well-behaved, quiet side of their usually rambunctious temperaments, some kind person remarks to Will and me, “You have such a beautiful family!”
Will and I smile and thank the compliment-giver politely. But inside we sort of snicker that we could possibly be called a “beautiful family”. In fact, when family life is particularly crazy, such as driving home from church when all the kids are hungry and either fighting or crying and the noise level is enough to make one wish for earplugs, Will and I give each other a shark grin and say, “we have such a beautiful family.” Hahaha!
The “beautiful family” people obviously never saw the arguing about insanely unimportant things, the little ones eating with their mouths open and tipping their chairs and scribbling on the walls. They never saw the clothes flung on the floor of the closet to avoid that terrible task of Hanging Things Up. They never saw the apple cores rolling under the couch, the bikes strewn over the driveway (until the disastrous day that Mama backed over a bike), the shoes littered over the grass by the trampoline. They didn’t see the butter sneaked into a closet to be enjoyed by…we don’t know who. The children all vigorously denied that they would do such a thing. Noooo! But there it is: The Butter in the Closet.
After the children in turn pled innocent, one of them turned to Daddy and said, “Did YOU do it, Daddy?” To which he replied, “If I wanted to eat butter, I wouldn’t hide in the closet to do it!”
Being a family is hard. The temper flare-ups, the unkind words, the hurt feelings, the apologizing. The exhaustion of parenting; the challenges of siblings learning to love each other well. The endless meltdowns and counseling sessions.
The bedlam never ceases, it seems. Messy rooms and little people in the strangest of places, even drawers.
Those people who talked about our beautiful family obviously never stepped into puddles while in their socks. Puddles in the house, and specifically in the bathroom. The bad thing about puddles in the bathroom is that you’re never sure which kind of puddle it is.
This time, it was the water kind.
But you have to admit, he is awfully cute…
And…there are the times we laugh so hard we can’t breathe over playing a silly game. I think I look like a horse in the picture, but don’t we all look funny when we are laughing uncontrollably? (Keane looks disturbed by his mother’s indecent demeanor.)
We even have times that we love to work together as a family. Tuesday evening we peeled potatoes for the community Thanksgiving dinner. Twenty pounds of potatoes were peeled and mashed as Will and the children sang round songs. They sang the proper versions, then made up alternatives as they went along. In this picture they look so serious and industrious, except Desiree has a fetching grin.
Maybe we are kind of a beautiful family after all. There are moments that take my breath away…
My children teach me about faith.
You know what? Our family isn’t even close to perfect, but I think I like us.
I hope we keep learning how to love Jesus and each other. I hope we can always be welcoming to those who do not have a family, to let them join our mess and tears and side-splitting laughter and Sunday evening ice cream. I hope the loyalty and kindness in our family runs deep enough to extend to others who need grace.
I’m thankful for my beautiful family.