There was a moment yesterday where I wondered if they had broken me.
There was a paint fiasco. No, fiasco is too light of a word. It was a paint disaster, a debacle, a nightmare, a horror show, a massacre. There was paint, everywhere.
So. Much. Paint.
And in the moment, walking out from my bedroom (where I had been with my eldest son, administering his end of the school year testing, away from the distractions of his siblings), when I saw it all, Asher’s blue hands, his multicolored pants, the footprints leading in and out of my kitchen, I felt something other than anger. I didn’t yell. I picked up my camera. I sighed. I sent them outside to rinse off in the rain while my head spun around the question of where to even have them begin to clean.
I was something other than mad, something worse. I was exhausted, slightly amused, but also slightly defeated.
Later that afternoon, two hours of watching the kids scrub floors and walls and doorknobs, and two stores of errands and milk and bread purchases later, they were arguing in the backseat over something, I don’t even know what. Evaline shrieked at Lila. Lila told her calmly, that’s not how we talk to each other (Pot, meet Kettle, Kettle, meet Pot), and that made Evie scream even louder.
I came to a stop sign and realized that I was starting to cry.
Vinnie texted.: You need anything on my way home?
My reply: A vacation?
Vinnie: How about you go take a break when I get home.
He came home to a (relatively) clean house. The paint was cleaned, I was working on dinner and dishes. He swept up the girls in his arms and hugged them one at a time. He laughed with all of the kids, ate dinner with them, talked with them about their excitement for the coming weekend of birthday parties and church. He sat with children on his lap and watched Little House on the Prairie with them while I retreated to my bedroom for as much quiet as I could get.
When the kids went to bed, I heard them saying, what a fun day!
Yesterday, as far as I can remember, was exhausting and messy and not anything fun. Except for him, and the calm happiness that he brought just by walking through the door.
But, then, how wonderful that what could have been a terrible, awful, no good, very bad, memory for them – with a mom who was just about to lose her last thread of sanity – was rescued by a dad, who came home and made things better. For them. For me.
When the day is too hard, he is the soft.
When I’m stressed, he’s calm. When I need to work, he is willing to play. When I’m frustrated with the kids, he’s their buffer.
He doesn’t stress over the unfolded laundry. He doesn’t seem to care about the dirt smudges on our walls or the fact that we only vacuum when company is coming over. He is perfectly happy with a dinner of bacon and fish sticks and an hour of playing Phase 10 before bed. He doesn’t mind the knock knock jokes or talking like a Crush (from Finding Nemo, lots of “dude”) to illicit giggles. He can play outside, chasing a kite for hours, until the kids practically drag him in.
He’s able to let himself be a big kid.
Where I see mess and danger, he sees fun life experiences. When I want to just sit back and watch, he lets me. He takes their hands and runs.
Our children are pretty lucky to have him, someone who will meet them eye-to-eye to talk, someone who will chuckle with them over the jokes that their mom won’t, someone who encourages them to take risks, while I’m hemming and hawing and wondering if they ought to be more careful. Someone who will read the words big girl panties, over and over and over again, with enthusiasm.
And I’m pretty lucky to have him too.
Happy Father’s Day.