I lounge in a sunbeam on my living room floor, basking in the natural warmth and the rare pleasure of an after-lunch snooze. It’s my happy spot on a wintry afternoon.
Another happy place is brimming with fun for Small Son and Tiny Daughter. From my place in the sun I can hear two little voices with two different decibel levels, and I know without peeking that they are happily assaulting our heaps of fresh Canada snow.
It grows quiet and I check to make sure they are safe. I call Tiny Daughter in to zip her once again unzipped coat. It’s minus 13 Celsius and she is blissfully unaware that all of her body heat is escaping through the zipper place. While I’m zipping she breathlessly exclaims the wonders of chasing a sibling in the snow. I send her back out, along with a wave of heat from inside the house.
My reverie returns, but only momentarily. Piercing screams cue me in that all is not well with Tiny Daughter.
Nap ended, I carry a little ball of frustration to the door with me. Sternly call them in.
They come dejectedly, snow matted up to their thighs, hoods full of ice chips from the snowball fight that just went sour.
Small Son is upset for having to come in. Tiny Daughter tattles using her limited explanations, expounding on her brother’s recent tease.
Time for nap- If you can’t play nicely together then you can’t play at all. I’m upset that Small Son has yet again irritated his sister with his raucous, boyish ways.
My mouth opens to vocalize my thought, and something happens.
“Take off your boots and coats….we’re going to make some hot chocolate.”
I surprise myself with what comes out of my mouth. I’m quite sure it doesn’t come from me. Could it be one of God’s answers to my desperate mother-prayers? The ones I utter when I don’t know how to steer my children aright. The ones I plead in secret after settling yet another sibling disagreement. The prayers that aren’t really prayers- more like sighs of exhaustion at my never-ending job of “Moderator Mother” for all of the woes of toddler life.
Cheers of delight hit the ceiling while I skim to the kitchen in a cloud of contented confusion.
Red cheeks arrive to watch the kettle that never seems to boil fast enough. Will there be marshmallows? Candy canes? Could they have a spoon to stir it? Oooh, toffee bits! And milk! So that’s why hot chocolate turns a different color brown sometimes!
The prattle goes on…and I savour it.
I pour heaps of chocolate mix into the boiling water…add toffee bits, milk, and a handful of puffy miniature marshmallows, and spoons. It’s perfect. I decide to make one for myself.
Classical music plays and spoons clink against mug walls. Tongues disappear while two little faces dip into the yawning mouths of the cups of goodness. In between sips they come up for air, and the happy, random prattle continues:
“Mom, I ate all the melted marshmallows first ’cause they’re so good,” chirps Small Son.
“My cheeks are red because of the snow,” informs Tiny Daughter.
“That’s a cello in that song! Maybe I can play the cello someday when I grow up.” says a now-thoughtful Small Son.
“Oh! There’s a trumpet! I will play the trumpet!” counters Tiny Daughter.
“Mom, I can’t wait for Easter! Christmas barely over, Small Son is already thinking of the next holiday.
“Oooh, Easter is when we get to open our eggs!” Tiny Daughter quips.
“No, Easter is when we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead. Mom, is Good Friday after Easter or before?” Small Son again.
“Mom, did you know that snakes make a nice scarf? “ And from nowhere he produces a stuffed snake, maybe three feet long. He puts it around my neck as I sip my steamy hazelnut chocolate.
“Yep, they keep your neck nice and warm!” he says confidently.
His mug is empty now and he’s brushing past my chair toward the sink. I open my arm and pull him in.
“Thank you, Mom” he says softly.
The words sink in, for more than hot chocolate.
For grace, that changes a tense moment born out of Mom’s edgy mood into a moment of joy.
That tiny moment of grace gives birth to many more moments of joy. We sip them together.
And in my hot chocolate I see motherhood.
While I pour chocolate powder, toffee bits, and marshmallows into boiling water…God is pouring grace, love, and joy into my ruffled, sometimes boiling Mommy spirit.
He turns a graceless moment into an hour of enjoyment…memories are birthed. I decide to wear the stuffed snake around my neck for a few minutes longer.
Small Son and Tiny Daughter plunge to the basement with a new idea of an exciting game that only happens in their world. They play peacefully for hours- more peacefully than they have all day.
I look down at my hand.
I see simplicity. I see a key. It’s always there, but many times I forget.
A bit of scrawled engraving catches my eye. I recognize that handwriting!