One day when the kids were two, we were having a terrible day. I was cranky, they were cranky. I was feeling trapped and alone, overwhelmed, down. It was snowing and the barometer was dropping. And so was my disposition. I'd had about all I could tolerate. My patience was pushed near the point that I would stop being able to cope. So I did something I rarely did. I called someone to ask them to come and help me so I wouldn't lose it. I dialed up our good friend Linda, who had helped me with the kids since they were babies. I told her things felt bad, desperate, and I asked if she could come and help me. Unfortunately, she had a prior commitment and couldn’t come, but she said she would pray for me. I hung up the phone thinking, Great. That was my only idea. Now what am I going to do?
Leaving the kids in the basement, I went upstairs for a personal timeout and stared out the kitchen window at the falling snow. I debated: If I sent them outside in the snow, I would have to bundle each of them up — four snow suits, four hats, four coats, eight boots, eight mittens; then they would go outside and get sopping wet and freezing cold. Then they would come back inside with four running noses, eighty cold fingers and toes, all the layers wet and frosty and nearly impossible to tug off. I didn’t have the courage to face that monumental task this particular morning.
I turned and they were spilling into the kitchen from the stairwell, as they never could let me out of their sight for more than the few minutes. In shear desperation, I began to pull out the snow gear. I was just going to have to face the overwhelming task of suiting them up and dealing with the work. We were all too antsy and cranky to just stand there and cry at each other.
Then an idea came. It had to have been from heaven. Linda’s prayers were being heard.
I pushed the kitchen table, rumbling it over with the chairs against the wall to the far side of the kitchen and told the kids, “Wait here a minute.”
I threw on my own boots and ran out the back door. I came back carrying a bucket of snow and dumped it in the middle of the kitchen on the tile floor. The kids stared at me with wide eyes and disbelief. They knew for sure Mom had gone off the deep end.
I brought in several more buckets of snow when finally Spencer, the “water baby” of the four — the boy who absolutely loved water any time, any place, any form — shook off the shock of seeing me do something so absurdly wonderful and toddled over toward the growing pile to touch the cold snow. Once he broke the ice, they all jumped in. Soon I was in the middle of it with them, laughing and throwing snow balls around the kitchen.
We built a little snowman, pulling forks out of the silverware drawer and sticking them into the sides of the snowman for his arms. We found a carrot in the refrigerator for his nose, and some other loose vegetables to make his eyes. We topped him off with Spencer’s eyeglasses to give him an academic look. Once he started to melt, a thin film of water under his frozen body made him as slick as a hockey puck and we took turns pushing him to each other around the kitchen, seeing how far he could slide. Eventually, when all the snow was turning to mush, I used the dustpan to scoop up the chunks and a mop to soak up the rest.
What a gift that day turned out to be. We laughed and played together, truly enjoyed some of the fast fleeting days of childhood, and I even got my kitchen floor cleaned in the process (a rarity!). Linda’s prayers brought about so much more than if she’d just come over and watched the kids while I went and hid in the bathroom.
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