Over the next month, I’m going to feature photos my mother-in-law took this past week; the week our youngest three children stayed with their paternal grandparents in their Minnesota lake town. These are just too great to keep hidden in my computer. I feel deeply grateful for their generous hands and hearts. The daily reports were so heartening, and I have never had such a peaceful transition into summer vacation. Our oldest two were so busy hanging out with friends that I found myself IN MY HOME ALONE on more than one occasion. This is a rare occurrence for me. I had a heightened awareness that not everyone lives in this super-intense mode that generally comprises my daily life. I also got a taste of what life will be like someday, when the little voices and high demands have dissipated for good.
It was nice. It was a gift. I could breathe. But I knew it was temporary, and that’s part of the reason I enjoyed it so much. The other part was because I knew the kids were having a ball, doing things I would not have been able to do with them, getting a chance to know their grandparents better without the influence of their parents to muddle things. It seemed to have been a win-win for everyone. But even as I embraced that wonderful gift, I did not, for a moment, wish that things could be different, not anytime soon. The life we live here in the Salonen household can be stressful; it is not a life for wimps. There are many complex dynamics at work, lots of needs. We’ve got everything from pre-K meltdowns to teenage flare-ups going on. But I never thought that life with a larger family would be easy. I expected it would take everything I have and then some, and that has turned out to be true. But this past week, I got a glimpse of the peace that awaits us someday, and it was a beautiful glimmer of how our lives will be when that season comes.
I was gone when the chicks were all back in the nest. When I arrived home this morning, I was greeted by a small voice, “Hi Mom,” which was music to my ears, and then, throughout the day, the hugs came, along with the, “I missed yous.” There really is something to the saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Sometimes, we need to take a break from those we love to truly appreciate just how blessed we are by their presence. I’m sure that will wear off soon enough, and I’ll need another dose of separation to get it back. For now, I’m enjoying the feeling of having everyone in one place. This isn’t the easy way, but it’s the way we know, the way that helps us grow, and I’m quite fulfilled by our busy, crazy lives together, even though it’s rarely easy and only occasionally peaceful.
I’ll be back throughout the week with more photos from “beyond the Peace Garden.”
Q4U: What is your favorite summer memory?