I was chatting with a lovely couple on Thursday night at a dinner function. He was joking with me about how many kids do you have now? and she rolled her eyes at him. They commented about how it must be crazy at home with all those kids and I nodded in agreement. Then he looked at me and asked if there was joy in craziness. I slumped a bit as I leaned toward them, shook my head and said no, not really. And, because verbalizing that truth made me feel terrible, I cushioned it by saying we have many joyful moments and that I'm looking forward to moving from this stage of chasing babies and changing diapers to one with more permanent joy. We joked together about the freedom that comes when the kids don't need sippy cups anymore and how great it is when they can buckle themselves in to the car.
I left the conversation sort of sad. Not sad about my life nor our conversation, but by the reality of the joylessness I've succumbed to.
Yesterday we went for a short drive up the hill to play in the snow with the kids. For two hours no one fought, no one cried, and we enjoyed each others company and non-stop smiles. So many smiles beckoned for my camera to record them. I will, for as long as my fleeting mind will allow, cling to my memories of that afternoon and trust the flat snapshots to trigger the accompanying emotions of intense delight in a palpable, soul-stirring way. Irresistible laughter and tender spirits made it difficult to leave even when the four year olds' shoe slipped off his foot and he stepped in the cold snow with just his sock on. If I could have stayed in those moments of sledding and laughing and snow ball throwing for a year, I would have.
After a spectacular day I asked Ryan on the drive home if he thought that maybe this was the beginning of us being more adventurous again. Having small kids has left us nap-trapped (confined within our home for the sake of napping children) for at least half of a decade. He looked at me and grinned and talked about what a great day it was and how everyone seemed to have a fantastic time and he said, "yes, maybe, i think this just might be the beginning of us being adventurous again".
The car in front of us on our way home had snow stacked on its roof. As we came down the hill and the temperature rose, and as I watched that snow fall in chunks and dissolve in an instant on the ground, I realized there is magnificent joy in my life. Even right now.
I found joy yesterday in the snow with my family. Or maybe joy found me. Either way, I suppose, is fine.