It came directly from God. I had asked for it. No, I had begged for it, so I should not have been surprised when it arrived. But I was.
Today was filled with chaos. Wake the kids early so Parker would have plenty of time to get to school. Feed the baby. Make sure Jack sat on the potty seat. Eat, clear, brush teeth. Hats, sunscreen, book bag, lunch box. Go! School then to then quickly to the store. Jack's "accident" in the van. Grab the dry cleaning and groceries. Drop off overdue library books. Rush home in time to place Jack on the potty again and shove cold groceries in the fridge before baby wakes to nurse again. And on and on and on. Potty accidents everywhere. Eating wars. Toys, toys, and more toys on every surface.
That's when I asked. I sat in a chair, surveying the mess, listening to children's cries, the soundtrack of my life. And I cried. "God, help me," I whimpered. "I can't do this alone. I need your help. Please, please, help me. Be with me. Help me!" My whimpers had turned into sobs. Maddie rushed to my side, concerned.
It happened slowly. I stopped snapping at Jack. I didn't heave a sigh when Maddie dragged her feet as we walked to pick Parker up from school. I simply stopped and waited for her to catch up. Parker got home and requested we go to the pool - a request I would typically deny until dad got home to help. Sure, we can go. Small changes in my attitude and behavior I didn't notice right away.
It wasn't a typical day at the pool. The small crowd that was there cleared out shortly after we arrived. Caleb slept peacefully in his stroller. Clouds were scattered across the sky, shading us from the scorching Dallas sun. I entered the pool, much to the kids' surprise (since these days I am usually on the outside, rocking a crying or sleepy baby). I taught Parker how to do a flip and watched Maddie do her "tricks" and twirls. After awhile, I got out to dry off, and it really hit me.
I was sitting in a chair near the edge of the water. I allowed myself to get lost in the shimmering, undulating waves and focused on the soft breeze that lifted the tiny hairs on my arms. I watched the kids, strangely, beautifully detached.
I was alone. No, I was separate. I was my own person again. Jessie. No fetus growing inside, no nursing baby attached, no child pulling on my arm, demanding my attention. I was relaxed. I was not alone, I realized. I was present with the God who had given me this gift. This peace.
It was awesome. A passerby might have mistakenly assumed I was bored. I just sat there. For more than half an hour. I didn't say a word. To anyone. I stared at the water and then at the kids. Jack in his bright green flotation vest, Parker in blue swim trunks, and Maddie in her pink bikini. They were like pictures in a sweet children's book. I just sat and stared and breathed.
It was then that I remembered my earlier desperate plea. And oh, how He answered me! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord.