Ah, this picture just never gets old. It's funny every single time.
Last Saturday I mustered the energy to take the little kids, plus Bethany, to the Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point.
We all had a great time and the highlight is the water erosion table. If I had unlimited space and resources, I would definitely want one of these. The kids are so calm and happy and they can play forever.
The fossil digging site is also great. This museum has afforded my children so much pleasure over the years.
Lately, it seems the big kids-- Clark, Bethany, and Elinor-- have been so busy with their different activities, many of which do not involve me. Clark works his job at Papa Murphy's and is in the thick of robotics build season. Bethany has orchestra, play rehearsals and activities with friends, and Elinor has been very busy with babysitting and FLL meetings and friends. I admit that sometimes I miss the big kids being around more. And that's from a homeschooler! What would I feel like if they were gone at school all day and then gone to activities. I know it's all part of them growing up and a natural, healthy separation. I just miss them.
But it does allow me more time with just the little kids. And I adore them. Are they more laid back than the older kids were, or am I? Don't answer that. I probably already know the answer.
Here's the background: Shortly after Peter was born I was feeling so torn between my older kids and my younger ones. The little kids (mostly Peter and George) were taking so much of my focus and energy. I was feeling bad that I wasn't focusing more on the big kids and their activities. I couldn't be to every function. I didn't know all the details of their lives. Should I be doing more with them and not worry so much about the little ones? Where should I put my focus? I just felt torn.
I felt very blessed to have a dream in the midst of these concerns. I love to interpret dreams (actually it's one of my gifts) but sometimes it can be wearisome to listen to someone else's dream. Sorry, if I bore you with the details.
I dreamed we were in St. Louis, MO. Probably for a robotics competition or something. Abe wasn't there and neither were Faith and Cannon. I'll tell you why I think that was soon. We were all in the airport waiting to catch a flight home to Salt Lake City. Bethany and Elinor asked if they could go walk around the airport. I said they could.
Shortly thereafter they called for boarding for our flight. Bethany and Elinor were nowhere around. So I told Clark to take Peter and George and board the flight. I would go find the girls and meet him on board. I ran all over the airport and couldn't find them. Frantically I ran back to our gate and got on the plane. I couldn't send Clark home alone with the little boys-- that was too much responsibility. So I had him get off the plane and wait for the girls. I gave instructions to the attendants at the gate that when my girls showed up (as surely the would), to please help them get on the next available flight to Salt Lake City. In my dream I was so frightened to be separated, but I realized that Clark, Bethany, and Elinor were smart kids and were totally capable of flying home alone. I would be there to pick them up when they arrived in Salt Lake. The little ones HAD to have me with them. The older ones didn't have to have me there with them to function.
I woke up feeling at peace. Feeling that my prayers had been answered. I had done a good job raising responsible, level-headed children and it was okay, and even healthy for me to loosen the reins a little on the big kids and focus on my little ones.
I believe Abe wasn't there because he was back home working, which was what he needed to focus on. Cannon and Faith weren't there because as middle children, they were really a factor in my dilemma. They didn't need the independence of the older kids, but they weren't so needy as the little ones.
Over the past year and a half, as I have continued, at times, to worry about balancing the needs of such a wide age range of children, I have thought back to this dream. I never want my older children to feel I am not concerned for them or unaware of their needs and desires. It's just that I feel Heavenly Father blessed me with peace of mind to understand where my efforts will be most useful at this time of my family's development. I try to talk with them as often as possible. I try to value what is important to them. I'm so proud of their accomplishments and I enjoy their senses of humor. I am proud of their discipline to get their school work done and be where they need to be. Perhaps the necessary separation between adolescents and parents is made slightly more painful by homeschooling. You just get so used to one another's constant company. I suppose it is a good sign that I'd like them around a little more.