Fact: I home school them.
Fact: I love them to the point of bursting.
Fact: Most days I have at least one moment of legitimate desire to knock them silly.
Fact: My life is the farthest thing from perfect that it is possible to be.
Fact: I love my life.
This week started out on a really low note. At five a.m. on Sunday morning, one of our boys woke up with the stomach flu. He threw up every hour for six hours straight. Fifteen hours after he started throwing up...I woke up with the stomach flu.
Thankfully we were leaving the next day for a 3 day family getaway, so this stomach bug didn't affect us at all. (Read-dripping sarcasm)
I spent the better part of our first day sitting on a chair, watching my kids play at an indoor water park. Weak legged and weak stomached, I still dutifully rode water slides and ate snack bar food in my swimsuit with my paler-than-death legs and flabby-because-its-winter stomach visible to the world. My husband dutifully took the bigger kids on the most stomach-lurching water rides, and when they were tired of screaming and whooping and climbing stairs to do it again, we met up at the wave pool for a while.
Time moved a bit slower, and while I was relaxing and breathing deeply and enjoying the time away, I was also watching my kids with care. Because that's what parents do when their children are in the water. They pay attention.
And do you know what I saw?
These kids of mine, the wild, crazy, loud, messy, humans that live under my roof and fight with each other so often that it makes me want to hang them by their toe nails from the nearest tree...they love each other.
I watched them splashing around, playing games.
I saw the older two keeping as much of an eye on the younger two as their daddy and I were.
I observed all four of them laying on their stomach in the shallow water, talking and laughing.
I witnessed them taking turns choosing rides, or riding rides they didn't really care to, just because one of their siblings wanted a slide-buddy.
My heart filled to bursting, let me tell you.
They are friends.
Its what I always wanted for them.
Because I cherish my friendships with my own siblings so much.
I looked at my husband, and I smiled through tears, and I said "Look at them. They love each other. How did we get so blessed to have children who are such good friends?"
And my mind remembered so many other moments. Times where I thought they were going to kill each other, or never speak to each other again, or never learn to get along...
And then I remembered still more times, when they laughed together till they cried, when they stood up for each other in front of their friends, when they protected each other and put each other's needs above their own.
I cried a few silent, heart-bursting tears.
Despite the fact that my life is a disaster pretty much all the time, one of the things I want most for my kids is already a reality in their lives. They have unconditional love, and lifelong friends, already built into their lives.
Day three of our getaway, another kid woke up puking, and so did my husband.
And so we packed up and headed home, after stopping by a store to purchase a bucket and a package of trash bag liners for it. (Just in case you were starting to worry that I was trying to paint my life in rosy hues)
Today they have had several fights.
I have bopped them all on the head at one point or another, and reminded them to be kind.
But you know what they are doing right now?
Playing, laughing, and singing, together..
It's a minor miracle, to be sure, and by the time I finish this post they will probably be back to bickering.
But I keep remembering them splashing in the water of the wave pool, grinning and playing.
And so when the next fight breaks out, and I have to remind them, again, to "treat each other with kindness, because these are the only siblings you get and they will always be with you and you will never have better friends than these people in your life," I'm going to remind myself of their faces, filled with joy and love and camaraderie.
The facts can't always be seen or heard above the cacophony of my life, and that's probably true for you too. I hope you'll take a second today and focus on something that you hoped for your children, or your marriage, or your life in general, that is already something you are living.
Aren't you grateful for it? Doesn't it make your heart fill to bursting?
My children...they are each other's best friends.
To quote one of the kids from the movies "Cheaper By the Dozen" : "There are times I want to KILL her. But I would kill FOR her all the time."
And that's a FACT.