I was late. Again.
I finished having worship in English with my American boys, kissed them before they went to play with their legos, and then flew out the door. I even grabbed the motorbike to speed up the process of crossing to the other side of the pond before I missed the whole thing. I rarely drive the motorbikes but I really wanted to hurry and join the evening group worship over there.
Desperate times make me brave.
I arrived just after the Scripture reading was finished and as the singing was about to begin. I walked in and sat down and baby Gauv threw his hands in the air and ran to me, calling my name. Several of the kids around me leaned in for hugs and I was reminded that while sometimes it feels impossible to be mom to all of them, it's what they all need. It's what they crave.
To protect our three American boys from too much exposure to things and language and ideas that will only work their ruin, I live what sometimes seems like a double life. The result of that is I never feel like I'm being very efficient anywhere. When I'm on one side, I'm neglecting the other. My husband and girls work overtime to fill in all the gaps I leave in places and that fact is the only way the whole thing works. The kids are deeply bonded to each of us and so I'm not the key or critical player here. I'm just one piece of a set. But mom-guilt is real and I have it times 33.
That's a lot of guilt.
After worship was over, I took the baby to the house to put him to bed. The youngest six little girls were squirreling around the house doing everything possible to avoid brushing their teeth and Gauv was in rare form and extremely hyper. When I laid him in his crib he immediately popped back up, laughing like we were playing a game of jack-in-the-box. I immediately knew it was going to be a long evening.
Fifteen year old Yim poked her head into my room to ask if she could make the red raspberry tea we've been having her drink each day and she had a good laugh over how not tired Gauv was because she knew how much I wanted him to sleep. Then she bounded back out of the room to make and drink her tea.
Three small, pale-skinned boys tiptoed in to visit which is exactly what you don't want when you're trying to put a baby to sleep. I whispered that I'd be out shortly, but leaving Gauv in a room alone still scares him witless. The kids all have their own kind of trauma and there's no rhyme or reason sometimes. It looks different for each one and the best we can do is try to work them through it slowly, even when our patience feels maxed beyond the limit. And so I stay close by as much as I can when I put him to bed.
I saw my imperfect life as I sat in that dark room. I saw how strange it all is and how unlike anything I was prepared for. I'm having to learn new ways and embrace different approaches than the ones I'd used in all my previous years of mothering. Old habits die hard but it's also hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Not that I'm calling myself an old dog, but you get my point.
Progress is happening, but it's slow and I'm tired. Which is surely why God was so intentional to show me how blessed I am.
These kids flow around us, eager to interact. Wanting our attention, approval, and affection. We have a seemingly endless supply of hugs and I love you-s and while it can all make your head spin, it's the most humbling thing to know these kids find us lovable. I see my yuck but they look and see the love God plants inside me from His very own heart, and that's why they clamor for it. It's Him they're after, though they don't know it, and God has been kind enough to use us to act as a bridge.
It's the most exhausting honor of a lifetime.
I couldn't possibly count the number of arms that wrapped around me today or the number of times a chubby faced child smacked a kiss onto my cheek. I couldn't count the number of times we laughed at the baby because he's hilarious or watched one of our American boys help a little one. We saw messes made and then cleaned up; we saw our guests love on our children and pour money and sweat into building a new room for them. We watched the sun rise and then set on a day filled to overflowing with purpose and as I wind down for the night and reflect, I feel a little of what I'm after ...
Because there really can be peace in the chaos if you keep your heart quiet and your surrender complete.