As the first real snow of the year has hit, I am noticing how different it is from the last snow of last year. This year all of my children can find (to some degree) their own gloves, snow pants, hats and boots and can, then, attire their bodies in this gear. They can also take off all of this gear know to place it carefully by the fire place. They finally realize that whining while walking home, through deep snow, does not make the walk any faster or the work any easier. They seem to understand that sharing a sled is more fun than hording one to themselves.
Now, I want to clarify that my children have not been anywhere near 100% on these subjects, as many of you knowledgeable Mom's must have guessed. But, as silver linings go, this snow cloud has had more silver than grey and I'm going to enjoy it! Apparently having 4 children over the age of 4 = More fun for Momma!!
Another noticeable difference is our relationship with our neighbors. During the snow last year, I was trying to not go crazy keeping my two 3 yr olds from getting too cold, too wet or too tired and Corbin and Sienna were feeling the crunch. After playing outside for a bit, the new neighbor kids joined us and they even brought a few extra sleds to share. When it was time for the twins to go indoors, they asked if Corbin and Sienna could stay outside and play with them, I was relieved, Corbin and Sienna were stoked!
Since then our relationship has grown and the daughter often visits and even starting attending Awanas with us. She is 10 and I have often wondered why she enjoys visiting, since she often gets bombarded by the twin's questions or drug around by Sienna. But for some reason she does and I'm not complaining. She helps them do their chores, engages them in new games (is currently playing Hide & Seek with them), and in general helps them out. She is like a big sister that they weren't born with.
Today she helped us build our snowman, went sledding, and after watching Despicalable Me, she helped Liam with his snow pants and found Barrett's hat so they could all go outside to play again. And as I was watching them all go outside, it occurred to me that things could be very different than they are today. That my actions, on one day in July could have changed everything.
During the 4th of July, we had a few friends over and had bought a few boxes of fireworks. Our neighbors had an entire truck load of fireworks and enough people to light them. Since this was our first July as neighbors, I was wondering what their party would end like, but it ended up just being a pretty mellow night with a firework show that we didn't have to pay for. Not so shabby.
Then the 5th happened. Consider the mess a few boxes of fireworks can make, now imagine a truck load worth all sitting in the street. It was everywhere. As I drove through it, I remember thinking, a bit self righteously, "I hope they plan on cleaning that up." Know this, I had not picked up our yard yet either. After swimming with the kids, we returned tired, grumpy and hungry, and not knowing that a large breeze had whipped up during our absence.
That wind was now blowing all of the fourth of July shrapnel into my yard. My yard was covered. I was not happy. I ran inside and grabbed a few empty grocery bags and told each child I would feed them when the yards was clean. And we started cleaning. I thought, proudly, the awesome lesson I was teaching my children about "loving thy neighbor" as I asked them to clean up the yard to our left where an older Lady lives. I thought of how humbling it would be for the "mess makes" to get home from work and find the street all swept. I hoped they would pull in while I was sweeping. I thought of all the sweet things I could say when they thanked me, how to sound humble, yet irritated and wounded. How I was such a good example to my children while plotting the burning coals that would fall upon my neighbor's heads as they saw my good deeds.
Then, my greatest hope happened and the Mom did get home right as I was about 3/4 of the way done. She got out of her car, looked at me and said humbly, "thanks, we were going to clean that up tonight." Then, it hit me, she had been at work all day, I hadn't. She was exhausted, I was a brat. I looked at her and said simply, "Well, we got to enjoy all your fireworks, so it's the least I could do." She went indoors and soon her kids came out, brooms in hand. We finished up together, I thanked them and went inside to feed my children. I felt as though someone whispered to me, "this lesson was not for them, it was for you."
That neighborly lesson I thought I was teaching, was not for my kids, it was for me. All those righteous thoughts were just pride and anger. Had that day gone any differently, or even that one conversation, my children may not have a friend that lives just next door, a friend that can just come over and hang out any ol' time. A friend that seems to enjoy my smallest children as much as my older ones, and a friend that can actually makes my job a little bit easier because she is a little bit taller. And we have neighbors we can feel comfortable around.
I'm so glad, now, that that day didn't go the way I had originally hoped it would. Oh, so very thankful!