Zach has been gone a lot more than usual lately (sidebar: never before have I felt such admiration for single moms/military wives) which culminated in this past weekend him being gone all weekend. Overall the weekend was good/fine but I could sense those little moments of stress building into a bigger moment of total Tesi breakdown. I tried everything to get rid of it-meditating, praying, drinking-so that when Zach got home he wouldn’t be met with a total bust of a wife. I think I did a decent job but still felt an underlying tension.
Tuesday night Zach works late and it happens to coincide with the night that Dailah has dance and Tomas has piano. My in-laws are so very generous and typically take the kids and me to dinner following the activities. Last night the plan was to meet at a restaurant that is a little further from home because they are giving some of their proceeds to the Y and who’s going to argue with that? When the kids and I arrived they told us it would be a 15 minute wait, which is not so bad considering we were going to be having 8 people and a high chair.
30 minutes later and we were still waiting. Little A, who is generally a very good almost 2-year-old, was being completely crazy. I knew she was hungry and tired but there was just nothing I could do in the small and crowded restaurant (and look it was beginning to snow again!). When we were finally seated-close to 45 minutes later-she had hit her wits end. The other 5 were as good as possible for also being overly hungry and tired but there were little spurts of mothering that had to be done with them as well. Little A decided she’d like to have a few very loud, very public tantrums. During one super special time I had to take her outside I was holding her little head in both my hands trying to get her to breathe and look at me. I noticed a couple come in with their teenage son and I remember thinking to myself, “I hope this looks nurturing and not threatening.” As soon as I could get her to look at me she calmed down and we were able to go back inside. I saw that couple immediately-the woman gave me one of those, “You got this, honey, it’s ok” looks and I almost started to cry.
Towards the end of the meal my father-in-law asked for the check and the waiter told me that nice couple had bought the whole meal.
It’s hard to put into words what that felt like. Because I’ve always had a genuine knack for exaggeration I will tell you it felt a little like I was drowning and that couple submerged their arms to recover me. Obviously my father-in-law was going to be equally generous and pay for it so it wasn’t about the money-it was about the act. When I sent the kids over to shake their hands and introduce themselves the man kept saying, “I’m not sure what you’re talking about but boy aren’t these kids lovely!”
I got in my car and just cried. It felt like grace, if grace were to put on a few pairs of skin and walk around.
The last few weeks with Little A have been eye opening. The kids we thought were on solid footing within the family have found themselves feeling completely unearthed. Zach and I feel a little like two ships passing in the night. Though we still have a knack for communicating openly and honestly it feels like this beautiful, sweet 22 month-er has wedged herself in between us as well (sometimes physically as she sleeps in our room) and that’s probably been the hardest of all for me, honestly.
Today a friend was at the house showing me pictures from her trip to Antarctica (beautiful!) and she asked if it was a bad time-as the kids were louder and crazier than normal. I found myself saying, “No, seriously, please don’t go.” I don’t remember the last time I felt so overwhelmed. Clearly neither did she, as soon as she left she sent me a text, “You and Zach need to go out. You want me Thursday or Friday?”
This Sunday our pastor talked about the possibility that sometimes people are prone to not being able to accept grace fully. That even though they might know they are deeply loved by God they might not know it enough and so, consciously or subconsciously, they find themselves still trying to earn that grace.
Well shit I think he’s talking about me.
I know I’m beloved by God (I have the tattoo to prove it!) but I do think deep down I don’t totally understand how the whole grace thing works.
Until it shows up in the form of a paid-for meal or an unsolicited offer to babysit 6 children.
Super thankful I don’t have to have it all right or all figured out to have grace that defies understanding. More thankful I don’t have to do anything to deserve it, because right now I feel like total garbage with regards to deserving grace.
And yet there it was and is. Phew.