Last night I broke a streak of nights with five hours sleep, went to bed without writing, and got more than eight hours sleep. It was great.
This morning, as I was gradually working my way towards consciousness, the children trooped in to collect their allowances from my wallet so they could go attend yard sales up and down the street. I put the pillow over my head and went back to sleep. Half and hour later people had apparently latched on to the idea of having our own, unplanned yard sale and began collecting things from all over the house to take outside. At this point, it seemed that perhaps it was time for me to get out of bed.
The old records and National Geographics from the attic failed to attract any buyers but we did unload four old trunks for twenty dollars. Flush from this success, we purchased three aluminum baseball bats from a neighbor for a total of two dollars and decided to go out for hamburgers tonight. Then it started raining. And it wasn't yet 10:00 AM, so the day still lay before us.
I don't know if that sounds like a fun and inspiring family morning. The reality is frustrating in away that gets you down. One box of vintage clothes didn't make the yardsale because some animal of the house proved to have peed in it. Drama ensued when it turned out the kids had harvest all the squash from the garden but then left it somewhere in the house and can't remember where.
Some years back I remember a parent whose children were getting older saying that you're given exactly enough grace to get by at any given time, but that it never "gets easier". In an odd negative way I find that comforting, in that it suggests that it's not just because we have six kids and a massive old house and two somewhat defective cats and a couple of novels in progress that everything seems chaotic and maddening. In all probability, even if we had 2.5 kids and a new house and dutifully watched whatever the newest show was, it would still seem maddeningly difficult.
Perhaps one of the prime ways that my own personal Screwtape tries to get at me is by suggesting all the time, "If it weren't for this," or "If you only had this," it would all seem easy and peaceful and decorous. If we had a new couch. If the floors got picked up more often. If we weren't up to our necks in children. Just some one, not-quite-attainable little thing and it would suddenly become Me World, in which everything happens to Darwin's ease. There is no such world, of course. But I constantly find myself tempted by the notion that there could be.