Stuck in the van, there wasn't much else for me to do but think.
I was at E15's soccer game on a very, very, very windy afternoon. E15 was on the field. M13, S12, and J11 were camped out on the sidelines watching the game. A8, H5, and I3 were on the playground next to the van (hoorah for that playground!!!!). I'd already bundled up Baby L and tried to take him outside, but the wind was too fierce for him. If I covered him completely, he cried. If I opened the blanket even a peep, the wind rushed into his face, sucking away his breath. We lasted less than a minute, retreating to the safety of the van for the duration of the game.
We were perfectly parked for me to watch the game from the van's front window and watch the little ones playing from the side windows, but Baby L and I were cut off from everyone else. We could see but not hear. We were warm but alone.
Baby L nursed and fell asleep. I was glad he was content. I cuddled him close and enjoyed feeling his breath on my chest.
At the same time I wanted to be outside in the wild wind. I wanted to run, jump, holler, and feel the energy of the outdoors. I wanted to cheer with the crowd for the team and push my littles on the swings. I wanted to feel vigorously alive!
That was not the first time I have felt pulled in two directions.
When my oldest ones were all small, the only way they could play outside was if I took them out. That meant that at some point every day I put aside my housework and played outside with them. I remember thinking how great it would be when they were old enough to go outside on their own while I got the housework finished so that our home was both happy and orderly--instead of one or the other.
Time passed. The oldest ones got old enough to go outside without me, and they could watch the little ones, too. It was just what I'd wished for years before, but while I was inside completing household chores I remember feeling somewhat left out. Now I wished I had the excuse of needing to watch them so that I could abandon my work and experience the sun and fresh air, too. But our family had grown and so had the amount of work to be done.
(The kids have always done chores; there was just more for me to get done, too.)
As I sat in the van musing over these memories, A8, H5, and I3 left the playground to climb into the van. Their cheeks were ruddy with cold, their eyes bright with joy, their hair mussed from the wind. They were chilled and thirsty. Their arrival brought energy and life to the quiet, slightly stuffy van. Their excited talking tumbled over and around me, enveloping me in their vibrance. They drank water; they ate carrot sticks; they warmed their bodies. Then their older sisters left the sidelines of the game to play at the park, and out of the van tumbled three small bodies, lured back to the wild outside by what novelties the presence of older kids promised.
I3 came back to the van a few moments later because he'd fallen and hurt his hands. I kissed his owies, and he ran off.
H5 came back for more water.
J11 came back to warm up.
And suddenly I realized how good it was to be in the van.
The van and I were a safety, a home base for the kids. With me in the van, they were free to play, to explore, to experiment, to go forth with confidence, knowing always that I was waiting for them, ready to listen, to minister, to nourish in preparation for the next round of adventure.
This is my season for indoor adventures. My babies have consistently been homebodies. They need routine and familiar surroundings to be happy. To give my babies what they need means that I stay home with them (or at least turn the van into a home-y place).
By keeping home I allow my other children the privilege of sallying forth to test their abilities while knowing they may return to a safe haven when they need it.
I have had seasons of outside adventure in the past. Someday new seasons will arrive. For now, though, I will keep home.
When I keep this perspective, I am grateful for the privilege.