The man barrels in through the back door, dirty coffee mug in one hand and bag on his shoulder. I’m stirring tortilla soup and making quesadillas and I wait for him to say the first thing. He doesn’t, so I don’t either.
The clock is ticking and I watch time these days.
Time is fleeting and time is a gift and all of this time is making my heart pound heavy in my chest.
The youngest boy asks for help looping his baseball belt through his pants and the oldest boy slams his fist into his glove over and over again and I declare the game should be called.
“It’s raining and they’re only 6,” I say. “And it’s freezing.” And I’ve got BSF and all I want to do is curl up on the couch and be us. I don’t say the last thing, but I think it.
I just want to be us.
We divide and conquer. He goes to the ball field and I go to Bible study.
I preach to myself all the way there: Fill to empty. Fill to empty. I’ve got to lead 1 Bible study in 3 days and 1 (in)RL mini-conference in 5 days, and so I need the filling.
I really need the filling.
After the kids have gone to bed and the cleats have been put away, we drink coffee and talk the hard things out. It’s 9:30. Nearly his bedtime and 3 hours until mine. I watch the clock and he watches me and he asks what kinds of dreams I dream.
I feel myself pull my heart in a little closer and I wish he’d chosen not to read my thoughts today. I sense him waiting so I shrug my shoulders.
“I don’t know. Right this minute I wish we just a normal family. I guess I wish we could just put our family first, above everything else. Above everyone else.” I pause. “To have a better family,” I say. “That’s a dream, I guess.”
I wait to feel the guilt wash over me, but this time it doesn’t. I feel surprisingly free.
I look over at my big dreamer, his feet propped up on the ottoman. I expect to see him shake his head at me, disagree with me, put the church first, but he doesn’t.
Instead, he smiles.
“So you want us to build our family and let Jesus build His church?” he asks.
He’s grinning and so I smile back at him.
“Well, okay. We can do that,” he says.
I pour more coffee and we dream together about redeeming our time,
And about redeeming our family.
He turns in a little before 11 and I do one more pick up around the house, touching the messy things, wiping the counters.
I watch the minutes tick by and for a moment I feel like just a mama.
And that just-a-mama feeling is surprisingly freeing.
I smile to myself as I turn out the lights.