Bea’s day

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Sweet Bea turned 4 this week.  I wanted to make her favorite meal for supper, but thinking about it I realized that I don’t even know what her favorite meal might be.  She doesn’t ever want anything except dessert.  She hardly ever eats at mealtimes.  The only meal she ever requests is macaroni and cheese.  So that’s what we made for her.  But she was so preoccupied by the prospect of cake that she only ate a few bites of it.

Bea is the epitome of middle child.  I think she was even before she actually became the middle child.  She is amazing in so many ways and I love her to bits, but she can also be contrary and defiant and often we focus on trying to correct these things rather than praising the good in her.  Every morning I wake up and think, today I am going to be patient with her, today I will only show her love, today I will shower her with a little extra attention.  And I always fail.  I’m not sure why I thought it would be any different on her birthday.  I wanted to make this day really special and all about her.  Of course, then in her characteristic Bea way she made carrying out that plan very difficult.  She kept walking around declaring, “It’s my birthday, I can do whatever I want!” and proceeding to quite literally do whatever she wanted — to the frustration of her parents.  This was compounded by a needy baby who apparently didn’t know that he was supposed to let his sister have some of mom and dad’s attention on her special day.

But she did enjoy her presents — particularly the make-up kit she got from her grandma and a My Little Pony comic book.  And Jake made his signature mint chocolate cake.  We had a little party with the neighbors, and I know she enjoyed playing pin the tail on the pony with her friends.  (It was such a hot and humid evening, when I got out my camera to take a picture of her blowing out candles the lens fogged up and I only got one hazy picture.)  I think (I hope) in her mind it was a really great day, and that she didn’t sense my own sense of failure.  She’s one amazingly awesome girl, and I’m proud to be her mama.

amidst the clutter

I like to have the house all clean and tidy before we decorate for the holidays.  Of course it doesn’t stay that way for long.  The regular toy-book-paper-musical instrument clutter accumulates again.  Decorations get arranged and rearranged and played with and misplaced.  I try fairly hard for a few days to keep things organized and looking the way I would like it to look.

And then quickly I am reminded that the living we do in this house — the learning, playing, creating, and mess making that goes on here on a daily basis — isn’t going to cease just because I’ve put up some lights and garlands.  The house isn’t going to stay any tidier during the Christmas season than it is during the rest of the year.  And that’s fine.  The nativity sets, the Jesse tree, the lights, they’re still there amidst the clutter of our everyday life.  They still stand out as reminders of what’s most important.  They’re no less meaningful for the mess all around them; in fact, I think perhaps there’s a metaphor in there somewhere, in the way my kids incorporate the symbols and reminders of this sacred story into our own messy, common, everyday lives.  Perhaps it’s a lesson that’s worth remembering long after the decorations are packed away for the year.

And anyway, once darkness falls and the lights are sparkling, it’s much harder to see the rest of the mess.