Since we last lived here, my body has aged lifetimes. Miscarriages and cancer, eighty-seven children, and living in hospitals for two years all ravaged my health in ways I never knew were possible. Recovery is exhausting.
But now, when my children are old enough to sleep past 5am and functioning enough to start their days without me when they do wake, these days when finally we could rest… my body is too achey and sore and stiff to stay in bed for long.
We do stretches, all of us, to unfold in the mornings. In a mix of yoga and physical therapy exercises, we move slowly as stretch our bodies as they wake. From the simplest things to keep my remaining lymph nodes working to untangling Kyrie from oxygen tubing to strengthening Kirk’s muscles so he can even get out of bed, it’s all a bit of a process to get us moving in the mornings.
With it, though, comes so much joy. There is a happiness settled that many families take for granted because they grow up together instead of piecing their family like a patchwork quilt. We have gathered our children in, who must learn to trust us the way we must learn to love them, and they must learn to care for each other. We’ve come a long way, and there are more and more moments that feel as if we have always been.
In a way, we have.
Our faith tradition holds the understanding of existing as children of God before ever being born on Earth, where our spirits have come to get our physical bodies.
Somehow, in some way we can’t quite remember, we all together decided back then we would be a family here, in mortality.
They were such great spirits, these brave little ones, who somehow made covenants and commitments to other families, who would bring them into the world, and to endure all the challenges they have faced because of that, all for opportunity to bring the gospel to those families through sharing, and example, and temple ordinances. That’s so powerful! They are such big spirits in such little bodies!
Mortality isn’t always so noble, though, as this conversation revealed today:
Alex (age 8): I need to confess I was running around the church building last night, and even got in the primary cubbies, and that was not a God choice.
Me: Thank you for telling me. What do you think that was about?
Alex: I think I was just very excited to be there for Scouts, and everyone was playing instead of having a little place to be, so I got overstimulated. Maybe since I didn’t have a place to be, I was every place.
Kirk (age 8): Your place to be was in the gym!
Alex, hanging his head in shame, a movement I know his biological father does: I guess my natural consequence is that I don’t get to go next week.
Me: That’s all pretty insightful, Alex
Anber (age 4): Know what else is insightful, Alex? You smell like a chicken. So maybe you need a shower.
Anber is in a new phase of trying to fix her own hair, if you couldn’t tell.
It’s just that hers is especially pronounced in process!
We are a mess, all of us, and struggling, but we are happy and well and covered in blessings.
When finally all of us are awake, and showered, and dressed, we aren’t ready for our day until everyone has also read scriptures and said their individual morning prayers. That’s another piece of our faith practice. It makes our days better, it seems.
Then our school day begin, with Kyrie counting ponies while I get the other children started:
And that is my day by 7am everyday.
Once everyone is set up for the day, we do a rotation of stations so that by lunch time everyone is finished with their school work, and everyone has practiced piano and typing, and everyone has had an art project, and everyone has had reading with Mama, and everyone has had silent reading time, and Mary and Alex and Anber and Barrett have practiced violin, and everyone has had some alone time at “recess” (indoors today). Using our color chart instead of a time schedule gives us the flexibility to work around therapy appointments and play dates.
They take turns by days helping me make lunch, and the others do their chores while they wait. This way, by lunch time, everyone is ready for special group projects, activities, and free time or naps.
Nathan works while I do all that, and then takes over in the afternoon when I go to work, giving lessons on language and culture and entrepreneurship and working on their special projects. I leave dinner in the crockpot or on the stove, or he makes it, and I call to say good night for bedtime prayers. Nathan tucks them in early, since they are still little (though less so every day), and goes back to work on his computer until I get home.
That’s how we do our days, starting with mornings, six days a week.
And that’s what makes the Sabbath so glorious, Kirk says.