Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Clotheslines and Children

One of the joys of my new home is that I have a clothesline in my yard. In Scotland, I had no clothesline and no dryer. I dried our clothes on a rack that hung close to my kitchen ceiling. I would lower it with a pulley system, hang our clothes up, and then pull it back up to the ceiling. The problem was (besides crowding my tiny kitchen when I had to wash sheets), it would often take 24 hours to dry clothes this way, at least during winter and spring.

Thankfully during the summer months in Scotland, I was living in friends' houses, and they had clotheslines. I remember the joy of hanging up my clothes outside in their gardens (yards), and being amazed at how quickly the clothes dried. My friend Kate's garden was particularly pleasant and beautiful, edged with flowering bushes and trees, hanging plants and potted flowers. I loved the moments I spent watering her flowers, playing with the kids, eating lunch or hanging my clothes up to dry there.

My yard now is nothing like Kate's. I'm on a farm, not in a posh Edinburgh home. But hanging my clothes to dry still brings me such peace and joy. I hear cows mooing, bees buzzing, and the creek gurgling. I look up and watch the clouds in a bright blue sky, or notice birds circling above the grassy hills. I feel the comfort of a tall tree's shade and listen to birdsong.

This afternoon Naomi and Josiah helped me hang up the clothes. They handed me clothes-pins and wet articles of clothing, one by one. After I hung up the sheets, though, all help ended. There was a strong wind and the sheets blew like large flags. Naomi and Josiah thought this was hilarious and terrific fun. They laughed and laughed, running back and forth under the blowing sheets. They compared them to tents. They discovered that they could put their stuffed animals in the corners of the fitted sheet and watch them swing in the wind.

Meanwhile I was still enjoying my work, and marveling at the delights of childhood. How much longer will my children find happiness in such small things? For now, I'm grateful for their childhood because in many ways, it makes me more like a child myself. Like when I make wet footprints on our front porch with them, or find myself picking wildflowers (weeds) to give Naomi, or exclaiming with excitement over the recent growth of our avocado seedling.

There are many, many times when I feel I can't handle this parenting business anymore. When Naomi is increasingly disrespectful. When Josiah is rough with Ethan for the millionth time, despite our modeling gentle behavior. When Naomi cuts her own hair, or Josiah draws on the walls and furniture after just being spanked for that a few days earlier. When "yuck" is the only reaction I get to my homemade dinners. When I lose my temper again and again, and treat my kids in ungodly ways.

But I thank the Lord for joys like playing in the sheets outside, so that I don't give up entirely. They refresh me momentarily and remind me that parenting does have its blessings, despite the struggles. Thank you, God, for clotheslines and children...


ErinOrtlund said...

Beautiful, Lisa. I love your honesty.

Ali said...

Hi Lisa! So enjoying this blog of yours! FYI, my husband Adam grew up with Steve. This post really hit home with me today - I know just how you feel. It's so overwhelming some days, isn't it? The love, yes, but I was really talking about the patience - or lack thereof! And we only have two, how are you handling three??

Charity said...

I use Love and Logic Parenting. You might want to look it up. Lately my kids have been testing my patience in new and unusual ways. My daughter drew on the bathroom door in red crayon, and then hit me. My son is busy playing with the bubble bath when he's supposed to be cleaning the bathroom. But I know what I'm going to do about it.

My daughter has gone to school in her pj's about 5 times. My son has missed breakfast once. Over time they have learned to do what needs to be done. It's really rough and crazy though.

But enjoy their glee while you can. Treasure these moments, and build up the pleasure with them. For the most part they are sweet and innocent right now.