Why have I not thought of this sooner? We've lived in our house for almost five years now, and have never once eaten a picnic on our boulevard. But tonight we did.
After a week of extremely unwelcome, freezing cold and rainy weather, the sun decided to show its lovely face around four o'clock today. Naturally, we all flocked outside to ride bikes, play with the neighbor girl, and meander around the blvd. As TJ and I were walking, we decided that neither of us were hungry enough to make the big dinner I had planned. So I suggested why don't we just have the pie we made this morning for our dinner. Skip the meal. Dive right into dessert. He was in.
We went inside and began gathering all that we needed. As I grabbed the paper plates and paper towels I stopped myself. No. Let's do this picnic right, I thought. I went and found the picnic basket we had gotten as a wedding present, good plates, our fun homemade napkins, and real forks instead of plastic. The kids' excitement was growing as I was gathering. We're going to eat on the boulevard? We're only having pie for dinner? Yep.
It was the best idea we'd had all day....other than making the sour cream and caramal apple pie, earlier that morning.
I'm an extremely routine person. I crave it, I like to know what is coming up next, I'm always planning ahead and getting ready for something. But tonight, as we were sitting there watching the kids play, I told TJ that what I don't like about routine is the continual moving on to the next thing. Dinner done. Up to baths. Clean kitchen. Put kids in bed. Get ready for tomorrow. Again, and again, and again.
Tonight was different. I didn't start picking up the dishes and packing up right away. Instead I just sat there on the blanket and watched and listened to our children having a ball playing in the street. They were singing and laying down in the street and picking flowers. I just listened to them, holding onto the sound of their little voices.
Oh, and I took about a million pictures of it all, because that makes me happy.
Let me back up and tell you that this morning was a completely different story. I woke up tired. Evelyn had been up during the night with an ear infection. But I had it in my head that I was going to get up super early and bake an apple pie in the dark, quiet of the kitchen, sipping my coffee and soaking in the peace that was sure to accompany it all. Well, I woke up later than I wanted, found myself picking up the mess left from the night before and folding laundry that I was wanting to have done days ago. By the time I got around to being ready to bake, everyone was up and I was grumpy and mad. Add the fact that it was cold, dark and rainy out, and I was a mess. After about an hour of this ridiculous behavior, TJ asked if I wanted to go to noon mass so we could just lounge around a bit longer. Then it hit me that I have to be the one to change my attitude. I have to make that decision to get over it when things don't go the way I envision them. I was watching TJ being so patient and kind to them as I was acting like a baby. All of a sudden I said to Thomas and Annie...you guys want to make a pie with me? They were excited. My mood changed a bit. TJ asked what kind we were making. I said apple. He eagerly asked if this pie could have sour cream in it....and do we possibly have any caramel to go with it? Mood growing better every second. Soon, I found us all in the kitchen, baking and having a wonderful Sunday morning. As TJ went out to run, I took extra effort in showing the kids how to measure and peel and slice. I could feel my mood change from grumpy and irritated to one that was enjoying the moment.
I thanked TJ later that morning for helping me to change my mood by watching him be patient with the kids. He rarely tells me what I need to be doing, or points out that I am acting like a pouting child. He more often just shows by his actions rather than telling me, and I love him for that.
One of my favorite quotes from St. Therese is:
The moment I began to forget myself, I led the happiest life possible.
I try and remind myself of that every day. I should chant it with every breath I take since it will take saying it that often for me to actually do it. But instead, I like doing what I want to do, when I want to do it. I have my list of what needs to be accomplished and most of the time I'd rather get my list done than just be. I will struggle the rest of my life with that, I'm sure.
But IF I can remember to put myself last, and give my first efforts to God, TJ, and to our children, I'm sure that I will reap the rewards of happiness. Genuine happiness.