I’m currently reading, Anthony Doeer’s, Four Seasons in Rome. It’s put me back on vacation in Rome, only this time with twins. But it’s astonishingly relaxing, because my twins aren’t babies anymore, and I’m past that stage of joy and struggle. Hence, I’m enjoying this book, plus the guy appreciates nature and life’s beauty. If you’ve been to Rome, wanted to visit Rome or had children, you’d probably enjoy it.
Anyway, I also was not surprised when my husband and I were praying for our children and the Lord gave me a word regarding our youngest, who is around 18 months old and it had something to do with Italy, which is where I still was a bit in my mind 😉
Let me preface my heart of prayer with this:
When the twins were the age of my youngest, people would say things to me like, “better put on your running shoes!” or “Oh, you’re going to be a busy mama” (as though I hadn’t already been busy shlepping babies around and being pregs with our youngest;-) They were well intended, but it was like getting stabbed with a sharp thistle in the bottom of my shoe, an uncomfortable reminder of truth.
This is the age that for six consecutive weeks, I told my husband every night before bed that I might retire my mama running shoes and call the whole thing off in the morning (as if I could – the idea was at least helpful, pretending to have control over a situation I had no control over). I was EXHAUSTED. We did the whole, train your child young thing – so no locks on any of the non-poison cupboards, we’d say, “uh oh” and then redirect. One thousand times a day, times two.
So as our youngest is approaching this special age. I am hesitant. I am fearful. I am a little panicked, because I remember. I remember what it was like with two. And even one hardly sounds easy at this point. Besides, she has two siblings to chase.
So as we approach the Lord in prayer for our youngest the Lord starts to form a word picture in my anxious mind while my husband prays:
There is a little Italian restaurant, squished between buildings in a busy city, cars sloshing by in the rain. The door of the restaurant opens and I’m greeted with the smell of dough, mixed with a slight must. In this word picture, I was expecting a fine dining experience, so I’m a little off put by the decor and less then fancy atmosphere. I think, “Why did my husband bring me here?” It’s dated, it’s classic American Italian, red checked tablecloths, old oil candle lamps, fake foliage, Christmas lights, a small plastered bust of a Roman. The married couple behind the open kitchen window have owned the place for years, and it shows. The tables are a little crooked and they’ve used to-go pizza folds of cardboard to prop them up from wobbling. We sit down at a booth, vinyl cracked and splitting in formidable sections. It’s cozy. It is not a Michelin Star restaurant, and it doesn’t pretend to be either. I am overdressed. These were not my expectations. We sit down and flip though the sticky menu. I can’t take my eyes off the peeling paint, off the crumbs on the ground. As I pull back a strand of hair from my face, my bracelets tinkle together and I wonder, “How did this place get such raving reviews? How?”
The word picture jumps to the end of our meal. When I discover why I am here.
It’s the food. The food is amazing. Everything about every bite I eat is AH-Maze-ING. Every single bite. The bread. The antipasti (appetizers), the insalate (salads), the farinacei (pasta), even the formaggi. It’s all delicious.
And, once I took my eyes off the peeling paint and crumbs on the floor, once I got over myself and my Michelin Star appearance expectations, I actually began to enjoy myself. A lot. I laughed, I felt emotionally connected to my family, it suddenly became one of those nights that you look back on and wonder what exactly made it so perfect, but you can’t put your finger on it (aside from the food perhaps, I’m sure that added to the wonderfulness), because nothing about it was perfect in the neat and tidy sense of it. It was messy, it was human, there were even mistakes. And yet, it was marvelous and made an evening full of wonderful memories.
So there’s THAT beautiful word picture – and here’s what it means for me, and perhaps you, if you and I have something in common with me like being a parent, or liking fancy restaurants in your life, so to speak;-)
Parenting my youngest is like going to this restaurant. There literally ARE crumbs on my kitchen floor, and I stare at them, and occasionally scowl at them, and sometimes sweep them. However, this girl is one of the greatest delights of my life. She IS the delicious food in this word picture, she is the doughy bread I bite into and savor. I think of her chubby little legs when I think of the delicious perfect dough. This restaurant isn’t perfect, it is messy and it’s not a pretentious fancy-pantsy place that makes me feel fancy-pantsy. Nothing about parenting ever makes me feel fancy-pantsy. There are cracks in the vinyl, she cries when she’s tired (like every child). She yells a lot because we don’t always understand her heartfelt attempts at English – so she yells, and when we don’t get it, she looks at us and yells louder (and it’s kinda cute). She wants to snuggle when I’m trying to wipe down the counters. When I finally stop focusing on the my own negatives, when I get over my expectations of perfection and clean and just let it be what it is, I enjoy myself and most importantly I enjoy HER, so VERY, VERY much. And in those moments, I think to myself, “Ohhhh, this is the blessing that God intended when he invented parenting! I wish I could feel like this all the time!”
And I think, as parents for the most part, we are meant to.
Apparently the Lord is very patient. He has given me this reminder before, but in a different way. It was when my youngest was learning to crawl – everywhere. I had three days of stress mom times, trying to baby-proof the house and still make it accessible to twin toddlers learning to use the potty. I came to the Lord in a tangled yarn ball of stress and he gave me the quickest, shortest, most genius word picture ever.
It was when I was vegan, like super vegan, as in 100% nothing in my mouth that is not vegan.
The Lord showed me a glazed Krispy Kream doughnut. Those are not vegan, not in the least. It looked delicious.
I asked the Lord why He was showing me a delicious doughnut that I could not have but wanted so very badly. (It’s slowly becoming clear how much I love food)
He said, “Your youngest is a glazed, Krispy Kream doughnut. Enjoy her like you would a glazed Krispy Kream doughnut. Savor every bite.”
At that time, only God knew in my heart how much I still loved those non-vegan doughnuts. He and I have jokes sometimes, where He makes fun of me trying to be in control of anything, by giving me an extreme abundance of grace and love when I least deserve it, and showing me doughnuts.
I’ve shared that word before with other’s in hopes that it can be a good reminder in our heads that our kids are meant to be enjoyed and savored, delighted in and treated as a special treat. Because they are a special treat.
Here’s to savoring every bite!
Thanks for reading.