14 hours ago I sat on a darkened porch lit by white lights and lamps............there was praise music playing and the atmosphere was one of peace and joy and God present.
14 hours ago I scrawled colorful words on a canvas that spoke of a good and gracious and loving God. Words that pointed me to Him and reminded me that He is FOR me and WITH me.
14 hours ago I was with God and with others as we sang and prayed and laughed and talked on a rainy night while our children slept.
14 hours ago I was restored and ready and knew that compassion and love and mercy and forgiveness and grace was mine.
That was 14 hours ago.
Then I came home.
And I remembered that the next day was picture day.
But, listen, I was RESTORED, people. I was filled and I felt at peace.
Yes, I came home and there were no lunches packed and clothes weren't laid out and folders not gathered and, yes, the eldest needed to take a shower in the morning but NO MATTER. It could be done tomorrow. For God is good and gracious and compassionate and loving and I can reflect that in my life especially to my darling children.
It's like I completely forgot every other picture day EVER. It's as if I forgot who I was.
Fast forward to this morning.
7:30am: I arise refreshed and looking beautiful (It's my story, it can go however I want it to.) I float out to the living room as if walking on clouds and carrying sunshine with me. Nico is perched on the couch covered in a blanket and playing on the Kindle. Girls are still asleep.
7:40am: My coffee is made and pancakes are cooking. I begin to make lunches and gather folders - still in the fog of goodness from last night, confident that this day will be a beautiful one. Francesca comes out, mumbling and whining, as she grabs me around the waist.
7:50am: Fia comes out and we sit down to eat breakfast. The pancakes are hot and fluffy and delicious. The day is still on track. We talk about the day ahead, everyone is pleasant.
7:55am: The first crack appears. I look over at my eldest. The need for a shower is real. I say you have to get a shower as soon as you are done eating. "WHY?!?" This is always the most ridiculous question to me. Why? Why do you have to clean your body? Why? It's PICTURE DAY. "So?" she says. Your hair is greasy I reply. Nico agrees and to prove his point reaches out and touches it. The compassion is waning all around the table......................
7:56am: Fia begins to chew her pancakes VERY SLOWLY. She knows all the passive-aggressive moves. I tell her she better get chewing and get in that shower NOW.
7:59am: Fia is in the shower and now it's time to tackle the outfits. I start out confident. we have eaten, folders are ready, lunches halfway packed and we still have about 55 minutes til we have to leave. WE GOT THIS.
8:04am: WHY DO NONE OF THESE CLOTHES MATCH?!?! WHERE ARE ALL THE CUTE OUTFITS THEY WORE THE FIRST 3 WEEKS OF SCHOOL?!?! Clothes are all over the floor. Nico is sitting on his bed REFUSING to wear the one pair of non-athletic shorts he has and now it is a thing and this is a thing that I WILL WIN. "I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL." Ok, I say. Fine with me. "I AM NOT LEAVING THIS BED. I AM GOING TO SIT HERE." Ok. Fine with me.
8:10am: I find a dress for Francesca. It looks adorable. She hates it. I give in on this one because it's pretty fluffy and fancy and I get it. I pick out another one that's sparkly and pink and has comfy material and looks awesome. Plus she can wear her new dark pink sweater with it. She looks beautiful. EXCEPT FOR ALL THE TEARS AND SNOT STREAMING DOWN HER FACE. "WHY DO I HAVE TO WEAR THIS? It's TOO fancy! I DON'T WANT TO WEAR THIS. MOM. MOM." Then from Nico in the other room "Just sit on your bed and refuse to go to school, Francesca."
8:11am: Francesca is still crying and screaming. Nico is sitting on his bed. Fia gets out of the shower and is standing there dripping wet. There is still no outfit picked out for her.
8:12am: You are both going to wear those clothes. If you choose to stay home THAT IS FINE BY ME. ONE DAY A YEAR I ASK YOU TO WEAR SOMETHING NICE. The compassion is gone.
8:13am: FRANCESCA YOU NEED TO STOP CRYING. YOU CAN, TOO, RUN IN THAT. NO IT IS NOT TOO SMALL OR TIGHT. YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL. The calm and patient voice is gone.
8:14am: WELL, FRANCESCA IF YOU KEEP CRYING THEN YOU CAN JUST VOMIT ALL OVER YOUR DRESS AND THEN YOU WON'T HAVE TO WEAR IT.
8:15am: Nico decides to just wear the shorts and an Ohio State jersey. He decides it's not too bad. The kid is smart. He knows when the ship is going down.
8:20am: Francesca is more resilient and keeps up the crying and snot. I ask her ever so politely to leave the room because I CANNOT TAKE ONE MORE MINUTE. I offer her the space of my room and ask her to SHUT THE DOOR. She leaves.
8:23am: We have 20 minutes til we have to leave. Lunches aren't all the way packed. Fia is still not dressed with hair wet and Francesca is a screaming basket case.
8:26am: We pick out an outfit for Fia. It's wrinkled beyond belief. Out comes the iron. I realize Francesca's sweater is a bit wrinkled and so I enter into the room of sadness and despair to get the sweater.
8:29am: She is still crying. To which I responded with compassion and goodness and mercy and kindness and said FINE. FINE. YOU WANT TO WEAR SOME WRINKLED, STAINED, NOT MATCHING OUTFIT. FINE. LET'S GO. She nods her head. I go to her room and throw out two random pieces of clothing and say HERE. HERE. WEAR THIS. YOU CAN SHOW ALL YOUR PICTURES TO EVERYONE WITH THIS OUTFIT. At this point Francesca's eyes are opened to the fact that mama HAS LOST IT. She thinks that she will just wear the outfit she has on and take clothes to change into.
8:35am: Ironing a sweater, dress and jean shirt. Nico tells everyone to get in the car, he's ready. How quickly he moved from the bed to getting into the car. If you have ever met his teacher Miss D you might understand the motivation. I don't think she has ever spoken above a whisper yet maintains complete authority. I imagine she is looking pretty good to Nico at this point.
8:40am: The girls are almost all dressed...........and now shoes. OH MY WORD. SHOES. It's tennis shoes every day for my girls. PLEASE LORD IN HEAVEN LET THIS NOT BE A BATTLE, TOO.
8:43am: Apparently the crazy had hit a level that they were not willing to push. Out came wedding shoes with tennis shoes and socks packed for later.
8:45am: Fia's hair is still wet and lunches need to be finished. We have to leave in 10 minutes. WE CAN DO IT.
8:53am: WE ARE OUT THE DOOR. Everyone looks amazing. Hair is shining, clothes unwrinkled, THE CLOTHES MATCH, Francesca's eyes have died down to a slight pink rather than angry red, we survived.
8:54am: Everyone is buckled. The radio is turned on and "Because I"m happy, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof, Because I'm happy, clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, Because I'm happy clap along if you know what happiness is to you.............." And we clap and sing and dance and smile and jam.
14 hours later I sit in a van..............with praise music playing and the atmosphere one of having survived and joy and God present.
14 hours later we sing loud and sigh with relief over getting through the morning and I apologize and we laugh. And I am reminded that we are FAMILY - FOR each other and WITH each other.
14 hours later the van is filled with screaming as we pull in and Fia says SEE MOM not everyone is dressed and I scream and make exaggerated sounds of horror as I imagine a whole slew of kids showing up not dressed and everyone dissolves into giggles and shouts.
14 hours later I am restored and ready and KNOW compassion and love and mercy and forgiveness and grace is mine.