There they were--my oldest four children sitting at the table. The table was covered with a plastic table cloth, and each of them had an art project in front of them. Jamie was 9 years old. His cheeks were chubbed out, and he had a paintbrush in hand. He was no doubt making a tank or an "F-22 Raptor", which was his favorite that year. Joanna was seven, already a big girl and in charge of the world. She had her art apron on, she was painting a ballerina or a pot of flowers. Nathanael was grinning ear to ear, as he always did at age four. He had a little paint brush in hand, and was being his very precise little self. And Hudson, age 5, had both hands immersed into the finger paint with a devilish grin on his face.
I just stared at the photo and cried. I probably never was able to stop long enough during those days to even contemplate what was going on. No blog, no journal, nothing really. Just a few photos. I no sooner finished cooking a meal and the dishes needed to be done. I did all the laundry in those days. and the cleaning. and the teaching.
And yet I was happy. extremely happy.
Not that I'm not happy now, but it is a different happy. Back then, it was a "isn't this nice that all of my chicks are in the nest, and I can manage them so well" kind of happy. It was a "the last child is weaned, and we can do fun stuff with ALL the kids now" kind of happy.
And we did a lot of stuff, and school, and fun. We did crafts, built gingerbread houses, sewed, made costumes, made fun foods, went places, and laughed. I distinctly remember not letting school get in the way of my fun. And now, nine years later, I have no regrets about the way we spent our time.
Yes, we DID school. But school was FUN. I LOVED teaching my kids school in those days. We wrote stories, and did nature hikes, and captured images in our memories.
Oh, just for a minute.. just for a day.. can I say: I miss it?
My nine year old is going to college in a month, except he is 18.
My four year old is earning money and studying for his ham radio license, except he is almost 13.
My seven year old just finished driver's ed, and has a professional camera, except she is 16.
And my six year old finger painter is 6 feet tall and painting his own room all by himself, except he is 14.
And I am still 32 and a mother of "little ones"? except my little ones are all taller than 5'4" ?
And we have Emily.. She is my little one now, and she is smaller than 5'4''.
And I need to make memories with her before she grows up too fast. Thank you Lord for giving me another little one to make gingerbread houses with and nature hikes to go on. Thank you for the fun and joy of discovering and early learning. Soon enough, you too will have to go on and be a big kid and do hard school.
But we have today.. Let's go make a fort today, OK? Yes, let's continue the happiest days of my life..