Invitations

One of my spring (summer?) goals is to start a small garden in our front yard. A neighbor recently told me about a nearby nursery with a great plant selection, so yesterday afternoon I decided to pack up the boys and check it out.

At 3pm the kids were snacked up, changed, and waiting expectantly by the door with their shoes on. I swung the diaper bag onto my shoulder and started opening the door when I realized (or rather, my nose realized) that CJ had pooped. Ok, not a big deal, I told myself. I picked him up and quickly discovered it was one of those rebellious poops—seeping out the side of his diaper and onto his little basketball shorts. Deep breaths, I coached myself. (But not too deep, because, you know.) I changed CJ’s diaper and outfit, then threw the offending shorts into a plastic bag to deal with later. We were ready to go.

On our way out the door I noticed a small clump of brown on the floor. Please let it be chocolate, I inwardly begged, with all the desperation of a woman who knows it is most definitely not chocolate. I leaned down and sniffed, just to be sure. Nope, not chocolate. I grabbed a paper towel and some all-purpose cleaner to scrub down the floor, trying not to imagine where else this renegade poop might be lurking.

I finally got both boys buckled in their carseats, water and snacks in hand. (Parenting Rule #1: Never leave the house without snacks. Even if they just ate ten minutes ago.) I was settling into the driver’s seat when I smelled something again. This time, it was Kyeler. I sighed.

“Kyeler, did you poop?” I asked rhetorically.

“Poop!” He confirmed with a smile.

I got out of the car, unbuckled Kyeler, and ran into the house to change him. Thankfully, this poop at least had the decency to respect the boundaries of the diaper. I washed my hands for what felt like the millionth time that afternoon and got Kyeler back into his carseat. The clock on the dashboard read 3:26pm—just a small setback. Victory!

On our drive to the nursery I suddenly started laughing as I remembered the day’s Notice prompt: an interruption. How fitting.

It can be easy for me to view life with kids as one big interruption. Virtually every basic human need—eating, sleeping, using the bathroom—is interrupted when you have children in the house. But where does that viewpoint get me? Other than irritated, of course.

Something I’m working on is viewing these small, daily interruptions as invitations. They are usually invitations to slow down and remember that, as Ann Voskamp says, “Life isn’t an emergency.” Sometimes they are invitations to connect with my kids, or my husband, or a neighbor. Sometimes (ok, all the time) they are opportunities to practice patience.

I ended up getting lots of beautiful plants from the nursery—emerald green hostas, little pink speckled things, and lilies in vibrant hues of garnet and yellow. After dinner, Josh and I got to work digging and planting while the boys… helped. I am using this term as loosely as possible.

Right when I was about to lose it if my kids threw one more handful of dirt onto our porch, I remembered: the interruption is the invitation. An invitation always offers a choice: How am I going to respond? Am I going to say yes or no to this opportunity presenting itself to me?

“Just let them play,” Josh told me good-naturedly, as if reading my mind.

So we played and planted and I shook dirt out of my hair as the heat of the day faded away. And I was glad I said yes to the invitation.

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