parenting is so much fun. i mean, just look at these pictures taken the other morning on our bed. their faces are so innocent; so pure. their eyes are so full of promise, so wet with what else there is to see. their skin is so young, so barely touched. they stand up for life in the face of death and age and all that is hard and their tiny little bodies seem to shout: there is a purity that you cannot steal! they are beautiful. they are hope-giving. they are defiant without even knowing it.
but they are also just defiant. not just against all the hopelessness of the world, but against all the authority i can muster. take naptime, for example. this week, jack decided that 'time for a nap' was code for 'time to create a miniature model of dante's inferno in my bedroom.'
not that i would know, exactly. i was at my office. the dominant noise was whatever itunes was shuffling on my computer. then the phone rang. it was shannon. i don't remember her exact words. i remember what it felt like she said (i think i am an impressionist writer). it felt like something like this:
s: i've been to hell and am only barely living to tell about it.
g: what happened?
s: jack won't take a nap. he was yelling and screaming and i could hear all these noises so i went into his room to see what had happened. he tore his curtains down off the window. greg, are you listening? he tore the freaking curtains down! he had bent the curtain rod in half and was standing on his bed blowing into it. he said it was his trumpet!
g: did you smack his butt?
s: yes. and then he just kept yelling and singing his abc's at inhuman decibel levels, so i said he had to be quiet during nap time, but he could sit quietly in his bed and look at books.
g: good. well, we'll have to fix the curtain rod.
s: that's not it, greg. i'm telling you: hades. he was STILL yelling so i went back in and found that he had destroyed the book. i don't mean he just ripped a few pages, i mean it is now confetti.
s: i don't know what to do.
g: i'll be right home.
parenting is so much fun. i mean, just look at these pictures. on the surface they seem to say, "look at us. we're so cute. we are cuddly and soft and have sweet angel breath. we love you indiscriminately." but that is not all they say. under the surface they say, "we will tear you to shreds like every last page of whatever pathetic book you place in our path. we will repeat everything you say, especially that which you least want to remember. we will destroy the furniture, crap in our pants, and vomit on you. we will rob you of sleep. we will exhaust you. we will nearly expire you. look, i'm playing the trumpet!"
but that's not all they say. they also say, "look at us. we need you. we won't always be easy. but we need you to be the best mommy and daddy you can be. you won't be perfect. we know that. we don't need you to be. we just need you to love us with every fiber of your body, every single ounce of energy you've got. sometimes it might feel like flames. but other times it might feel like the perfect breeze. sometimes it might be hell. but, and we promise this, sometimes it will be heaven. and somewhere in the middle, during the naptimes and mealtimes, during the sitting-on-your-bed-in-the-morning-while-we-all-wake-up-times, we'll find life. and just like God, we'll look around at the mess we've made and we'll make eye contact with each other, looking into eyes so full of promise, so wet with tears of sorrow and grief and joy and laughter, and we'll say, 'it is good.'