There is a Stinker sitting in the middle of the bed. She wears an impish smile while stuffing bread crumbs and strawberry slices into her little cheeks.
Her father is laying behind her. His glasses resting on the unused pillow. His eyes closed. His breathing slow. Lips set in an exhausted, yet somehow happy half-grin.
“What are you two doing?”
“EetEn snacks Mom!” Is the answer given as I stand in the doorway, hands-on-hips, shaking my head.
It’s March 31st, 2020, a Tuesday. We are just about halfway through our 3rd week of social distancing. COVID 19 has disrupted our daily routines. The world is still afraid, and a lot of us are lonely.
We are thankful for spring, and the warming temperatures. Being able to go outside and play in the sun has been our only escape for the last week. But still, we must content ourselves with our small snow-filled back yard. Ice and all. Or short trips to the vacant parking lot down the back ally for a bike ride. The little Stinker’s cheeks are still a bit pink from her last excursion. When I stoop to kiss her head, she smells like spring, puddles, and fresh air. If you know anything about spring, that can be an interesting smell.
“Don’t make a mess in my bed silly goose!” I get no reply but a babyish giggle.
I’m tired. So the time before putting the kid to bed is filled with cartoons and Xbox. Tonight I make it my turn. For a few minutes, I forget the constant ache in my shoulders. I even smile at Erin’s exclamation of “Good job Mom!” The last 3 weeks have not been easy for any of us.
As I find my escape, my other half does what he does best, in his quiet way. Before I know it the two oldest kids are in their pyjamas and heading to bed. The Stinker, Heather? Well, she rarely settles so well. I half-listen as teeth are brushed, the blanket is found, and more snacks are asked for and given. Brant sounds tired too.
“Time for bed Heather.”
“No! Mommy’s bed!” Her shrill little voice sounds like it indeed wandered again on to ‘Mommy’s bed’.
“No Heather. Your bed.”
At that, she screams her defiance. I hear my name being called in between her heartbroken sobs. Inwardly I groan and roll my eyes at the same time. After Brant tucks the still wailing imp into bed, he joins me in the living room.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes.” He says. He is famous for one-word answers.
“It’s not just me, right? She’s more difficult than the other two ever were.”
“Yep.” His exasperated agreement is cut off by wailing from upstairs.
“Mommy! Mommy! I want Mommy!”
“Do you think she’s okay? Should I go lay down with her? It’s my turn anyway.” He just nods as I hand him the controller and head upstairs.
I lay on the floor beside my 2-year-old, rubbing her tummy and doing my best to assure her that Daddy is busy but Mama is here. While I was still only halfway up the stairs she had changed her tune and called for Daddy. I silently pray that this won’t take a few hours like usual. She is overtired. Soon her eyes droop as I sing lullabies handed down to me from my mother, and grandmother.
“Tell me why the stars do shine.
Tell me why the ivy twines.
Tell me why the sky’s so blue,
and I will tell you, just why I love you.”
She has the covers pulled over her head. Does she also want to shut out this crazy world for a while?
“Because God made the stars to shine.
Because God made the ivy twine.
Because God made the sky so blue.
Because God made you, that’s why I love you.”
Her constant movements have stopped. There is no reply when I ask if she is sleeping. No movement when I kiss her cheek.
“I really think that God above.
Created you for me to love.
And picked you out from all the rest,
Because he knew, I’d love you best.”
“Well that wasn’t so bad,” I tell my self. Honestly, I can’t believe it was only 15 minutes and not 3 hours. Down the stairs, I go. Now I have time for that shower I have been needing. The dishes also get put into the dishwasher I thank God every day for.
Brant and I alone in the living room. It’s been a Day. A long, tiring, boring, day. Or at least that’s what my mind is telling me. Brant gets up and stretches. 10 pm. This day is finally over. He makes it to bed first.
I pull back the overs and crawl in.
“Oh gross! Brant!”
“There are crumbs ALL over in my bed!” I give him a heartfelt glare. “What did you give her!”
“It’s everywhere, and it’s your fault you know.” I add, “so gross” under my breath again for good measure.
All he does is smile.
For the next few minutes, I make myself busy brushing crumbs from my side. Brant reads our nightly devotions.
When he is finished I bury my head into my pillows and ask him in a muffled voice. “How much longer do you think this is all going to last?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you think this is why God hasn’t let us move yet?”
“Maybe.” His answers are not very comforting, but his hand rubbing my back helps ease a bit of my tension. It’s been 9 months since the house went up on the market.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
After a few minutes, he is fast asleep. Thoroughly exhausted by a full day of work and his demanding family. It is sleep well earned. But I’m still wide awake.
I pull out my phone, turn the screen light down, and scroll. I know full well it’s the worse thing I could be doing, but I do it anyway. A bare knee finds more crumbs. I put the phone down in exasperation.
Up I get, smooth out the sheets, brush out the crumbs, and lay down again. Still, there are more.
“God, why?” I whisper to the night.
I don’t hear any words come back to me. But my thoughts start to slow down. It’s been a long time since our family has had our own normal. Things keep changing. Plans are made, but fall through. Dreams are made but put on hold. Things we never planned happen, and we must react. Now, this.
More uncertainty, more loneliness.
“God, what are you trying to teach us?”
Then, just before I drift off to sleep, I feel more crumbs under my arm. A final thought slips through my mind. Maybe God just wants me to learn to be more thankful for lullabies, and bed crumbs.
©Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020