"The Still and Quiet Wood" 20x20, Oil on Canvas
Here I stand on the cusp of my little twins starting Kindergarten and my 8 year old starting third grade! How did that happen? Weren't they in diapers like 10 minutes ago? Wasn't that me falling asleep with two little girls in my lap and drool running down my chin because I was. so. tired? I thought I had a box of diapers around here somewhere...
This summer although still with challenges, had it's wonderful moments too. I got to see my girls swim (ALL of them!) with me for the first time. I saw their faces as they would give me a thumbs up or a big smile coming up out of the water. Barely even time to take a breath before one would say, "Did you see me Mommy?!" Sure kid. I saw you. I never stopped seeing you.
We saw some funny movies this summer. I especially remember the candy and giggles that went with "Despicable Me." First time I have SEEN my girls belly laugh so hard at a movie. We listened to the song, "Happy" so many times in the van this summer I thought I was going to drive into a tree. "Happy, happy, happy...oh, the CD went flying into the open field girls..." But I grit my teeth instead as one of them would say, "Can we hear the Despicable Me song again?" Sure kid. Because I love what that song does to your face when I look in the rear view mirror.
We ate at Chik-fil-A enough times to have killed a small colony of chickens. It got to where one of my twins would say, "The Usual!" when we'd go through the drive-through. And don't think I didn't feel guilty that they didn't get their required veggie count for the day. I did. And then proceeded to stuff them full of waffle fries and sometimes ice-cream.
I watched my oldest daughter conquer a BIG fear this summer at Hawaiian Falls. NEVER has she been able to go down the big green or blue slide even though her face would tell you that her heart was sliding down it already. Every summer I'd say, "I know you can do it..." But my oldest has a powerful brain. Once it closes it. is. closed. This year she cried telling me she wanted to go down and I looked into her freckled face and said, "You can do it. I know you can. It's all in your mind." I have no idea why this time it clicked. Something to do with her brain saying, "I agree." But she climbed that staircase, enduring the bucket load of water that gets dumped on the helpless children every 5 minutes...and she went down. It was one of the best moments of the summer. I saw her face. Confidence filled with joy. It was like her red goggles had become one big freckle smiling. Telling me in rapid word-speak, "It was like...." and describing it more with her hands and tone of voice than anything else. I couldn't get her off the slide with a crowbar.
We slid down slides, we shopped for shoes (their feet are like Hobbit feet!), we got a pet Gerbil named "Snowflake" The girls really call him, "Cutie, Cutie." But correct me when I call him, "Buddy." We took more van rides than I can count. We rode the DART down to the Dallas Museum of Art where they loved the water fountain more than any piece of art inside the building. My favorite line of the day came from my 8 year old nephew after walking two blocks from the DART rail, "I'm so dehydrated!" I can assure you that no children died from our excursion. Although my sister and I contemplated throwing ourselves in front of the train several times that day.
Last week I had, "Meet the Teacher" night. I went to two separate schools and met with three teachers. I realized that my twins were going to be separated for the first time in their 5 years. Now I know that most of you will say, "This is good for them." And you are right. It is. When they realized they would not be together they both cried and they both got over it. Something has to change and it is for their good. It's just the change that is hard sometimes. Their big girls. They have backpacks and cubbies and even school supplies!
After meeting the twins' teachers we trekked over to my oldest daughters' school and met her teachers. I liked them too. I looked around the 3rd grand rooms and saw books and charts and maps that intrigued me. I thought about all that she will learn and felt excited for her. We found out that her best friend is in the same class and we both sighed in relief.
If you've read this whole thing (bless your heart) then you might be thinking, "What's that got to do with the painting?" I painted this piece, "The Still and Quiet Wood" back when my oldest was going to Kindergarten. I was sad. Just like now. I felt fear. Just like now. I missed her. Just like I will miss all of them. As I looked at this painting with fresh eyes a little while back I thought about how I am the black tree and my oldest was the one tree going into the light. What I didn't notice was the two trees to the side. The twin trees...I had painted ALL my girls into that painting! It was like God was telling me, "I've got this too Dawn. Just like last time." They are all going into that quiet place. That place of trust for me. They are God's kids. I will wait in this mist (where I can't see what is before them). I will trust Him with these precious ones.
There is a wonderful Psalm in the Bible called a Psalm of Ascent. As if I were climbing a mountain and every step was a new height (difficult but also glorious). I'm told that if you are a parent that grade school is only the beginning! I hear ya. Psalm 121 is a step, a climb, a summit. In verses 7-8 (last two) it says these words, "The Lord will keep you from all harm - He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."
I claim these verses for my girls. They are yours Lord. They always were. You. Watch. Over. Them.