The hard work of capturing joy

She calls out to me and I glance up at her breathless giggle, forgetting the weeds momentarily.

Mama, look!

My heart stops in my throat at her girly smile all of eight years old going on nine in a few weeks, marveling at the sensation of mud oozing between her toes and the sticky smear of soft brown clay on her ankles.

Can I? May I?

I muster just enough courage to nod because she’s fast becoming a magnet for two younger sibling boys who suddenly find garden spades and sticks and worms uninteresting and look as if they’re envisioning a thousand and one possibilities presented in one gooey, mucky pit.

In that split second I can almost see mud splats being traipsed into a house I cleaned at 1.20 a.m. and a pail full of laundry I don’t want to deal with.

But in that moment it somehow seems unjust to deny three children the pleasure of just being children.

And in that moment also I see the day when this innocent allure of a mud patch will be replaced perhaps by nervy driving lessons or 17 checks in the mirror daily or hours of cramming for exams.

I bite my tongue and peer at them through glasses that now sit on the tip of my sweaty nose and turn back quickly.

I daren’t look.

Squishy sticky sounds and squeals of laughter emerge from the corner next to the young passion fruit vine and marigolds that reflect the warmth of the evening sun.

I am caught unguarded by their wonder and all of their childhood that’s going by too quickly.

Snarls of weeds, too many and with roots going in a mile long. For now, they can wait.

Their raw undisguised joy reaches out to envelope my aching arms as I sit back and I can feel the chaos of a day with four children trying to talk to me all at once spiraling away, whisked far far away along with the evening breeze.

This living playfulness day in day out has occasionally ended in tears and clocked in a considerable amount of exhausting moments in which I want to retreat to a sound proof room or pack them all up in a suitcase.

And yet it makes me pause, gifts me with what can happen when I remember to live in the extraordinary ordinary present and allow myself to stop long enough to breathe and look with eyes that see and listen with ears that hear and play with a spirit of come what may in between the homework and the cooking and the laundry and the muted phone beeps and the pile of work papers.

There is so much to treasure and gain beyond What Is Convenient To Me.

This grueling glorious work of growing young seedlings, loosening the soil so they can breathe, training them to remain as branches on a Vine, loving with warmth and firmness, this is a vocation threatened to be choked out by the stubborn weeds of personal weakness, the distractions of things that will never last for eternity and the weight of other adult responsibilities.

I heave and dig passionately into the ground again, deeper deeper and deeper until I grasp the weed bulbs and yank them out.

Overhead, the open sky and the billowing clouds sail past and I feel God watching us.

Hard at work, hard at play.




This post was written two weeks ago on my phone in the midst of So Much Happening over the past few months. I’ve been busy with work, homeschooling, Parenting talks and doubling up at home chores while the Man has extra things on his plate. Thank you for stopping by! 


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