Only, she wasn't playing with the toy. She had taken not one, but two step stools into our bathroom, stacked them on top of each other, and gotten into the high shelf on the bathroom where I keep the fingernail polish. And then painted her entire right hand. All in literally two minutes while I was in the bathroom.
It about sent me over the edge because (a) she waited until she KNEW I was busy doing something else (b) she created a freaking COVER STORY for herself...so clearly she knew she was doing something naughty, (c) she LAUGHED when she got in trouble, and (d) I felt like a crappy parent for not even considering that she could either reach the shelf or accomplish all of this while I was in the bathroom for two minutes. And that's how our past few weeks have been, which I'm sure are made even more difficult by the fact that I'm just very pregnant and very tired. I told Justin last night that she's either so sweet and kind, or an absolute hellion. There's no in between right now, and it's hard.
Lizzy's on her fourth outfit change this morning. First, there was the "singing outfit". Then there was the "comfy outfit". Then there was another "comfy outfit" because she spilled water on the last one. Then there was the "dancing outfit". The outfit changes drive me nuts, but it just wasn't a battle that I felt like fighting this morning. Anyway, I was editing photos while she was watching TV, and looked over at her with her messy hair, fancy party dress, and her "baby sister" (not a baby doll, mind you), and for a minute or two, I could see into the space between the defiance and the testing and the temper tantrums. And I grabbed the camera despite the messy house in the background and the poor lighting, because Lord knows that right now? I am clinging to those spaces between.
I laughed when I read a quote from C.S. Lewis describing having two young boys visiting his home in the following letter:
My brother and I have just had the experience of an American lady to stay with us accompanied by her two sons, aged 9 1/2 and 8. Whew! Lovely creatures — couldn’t meet nicer children — but the pace! I realize have never respected young married people enough and never dreamed of the Sabbath calm which descends on the house when the little cyclones have gone to bed and all the grown-ups fling themselves into chairs and the silence of exhaustion.
December 26, 1953 [Letters, 3:396]
It's a season. Or a tunnel. Any of the metaphors work--but what's important is the reminder that it isn't permanent. And it's in the spaces between the madness that the most glorious moments of pure joy...or "Sabbath calm" can be found in the midst of the "little cyclones". I am so thankful!