All four kids piled onto the red metal handcart, two in
front and two in the back balanced on top of two bags of mulch.  I pulled them carefully, slowly, through the
lawn and garden section of Lowes, like one of those grand Belgian draft horses
you sometimes see in parades.  We marched
down the rows of overpriced annuals and trees, past the perky daisies and
black-eyed susans.  Strangers waved,
calling out questions about the twins and I called back that I’d found them all
in the clearance section where children were on “special” two for one. 

For years now I’ve scanned the clearance section at Lowes, bringing home sad and droopy perennials to fill the beds that surround our small house.  But this year I passed them buy, it just doesn’t seem worth it to plant flowers when you won’t be around to see them grow.  Instead, we were buying mulch to fill in the two muddy moats my
children dug out beneath the swingset in our yard – I couldn’t stand the mud any longer. 

When we got home, I rushed inside to make
lunch while the kids swarmed the yard, drawn like Dirt Addicts to the messiest,
muddiest patches available.  I served up a lunch al fresco and felt like the Good Mother for
once as I stepped out into the sunshine carrying a Real Meal  – mini-pizzas (not burnt!) accompanied by
cucumbers, celery and black olives.  The
sun beat down, fierce, on our old gray picnic table and the kids lined up on
the benches like turtles on a log, squinting into the sun with upturned and
expectant faces. 

I sat with Isaiah while the other three fought over the
smallest spot of shade on the opposite bench.  As I rubbed his back, he
looked up at me with a grin and patted his chubby hand on my chest
affectionately before wiping his other hand, the one coated with pizza sauce, on my
(thankfully) brown skirt. 

We ate there on the paint-chipped picnic table, with the
kids sitting on rotting boards and a huge pile of dirt lay just inches from my
plate.  Looking a little to the right, I
could see the glass jar that held the now-dead American Toads the kids gave me
as a get-well present the other day.  They
seem to be mummified and I was relieved I’d remembered to tell the kids to take
them outside before the bank appraiser arrived. 

We’d made it through the appraisal that morning, “tucking up
our bottoms” one last time and we were all letting down now; down into the dirty,
sandy, gritty life of a family of six.  Sitting
there eating, I thought of all the work we’ve done on this house and the
flowers we’ve planted, the vegetable garden, all of these things we’ll leave
behind we we move in a few short weeks. 

Looking at my children sitting like so many flowers in the sun, I felt so blessed, so grateful for
the suprises that come, unbidden, grateful for  these flowers I’ll be taking with me, mud and
mess and all.    



This post is linked with Playdates with God.

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