The Prayer I Pray Without Ceasing

prayer

We got home at 10:30 tonight after a rushed trip to town — Forsyth, 50 miles away — for a funeral visitation.  Another surprising death in our community… another reminder that life here on earth is short and time is precious.

Back home from Forsyth, we quickly pajamaed three half-asleep kids and got them into bed.  (Yes, they went to bed without brushing their teeth.  No, it wasn’t the first time.)

Beau started his work pickup and headed to the barn to check on a calving heifer, and once I was certain the baby was good and asleep in her crib, I set about the business of unloading the (cartload of) groceries from the (back of the) pickup.  I stepped into the entryway to slip into my chore shoes, knowing I would encounter lots of muddy puddles as I carried groceries inside…

… and that’s when my foot discovered something foreign in the toe of my shoe.  Foreign objects shouldn’t surprise me anymore; I’ve been a mother for five years now.  Yet this time — perhaps because it was the end of the day — I jumped and snorted and checked myself enough that I very suddenly and very clearly became cognizant of a late-hour rallying cry my mind apparently auto-repeats without me knowing it:

Lord, help me keep them all alive.

I think I was actually saying these words aloud as I reached down to extract the foreign object from my shoe:

Lord, help me keep them all alive.

And I realized tonight that I probably pray this prayer — the deepest, most base need I possess — so regularly that I’ve gotten so I do it without knowing I’m doing it.

Because, at the end of the day, every conscientious parent has to admit that keeping the kid(s) alive is the fundamental goal.  Yes, we can strive for higher things we hope to accomplish in any given 24-hour period (like reading them an educational book, cleaning the kitchen, going for a nature walk, feeding them healthful foods, etc.), but in reality, most days we just focus on surviving around here.  We don’t take steps forward.  We don’t take steps back.  We just hold our ground.

At this stage of our life we are, quite simply, just doing the best we can.  And I’m finding, the farther I get along in parenthood, that in all honesty all I can do is the best I can offer for today… and each day’s different.  Maybe at one time I thought we as parents would approach every learning situation that presented itself with crystalline purposefulness.  Maybe I thought we’d turn on the television with only the purest of intentions.  Maybe I thought we, as parents, would approach behavioral challenges with far-reaching wisdom seasoned with a side of barely-contained enthusiasm over the opportunity to shape these little lumps of clay into their full potential.

But the reality is… we get tired.  So tired.  And so I guess I just subconsciously sum it all up and hope I’ve covered it all.  If I’m gonna do one thing today:

Lord, help me keep them all alive.

In and of itself, it’s a huge responsibility.  If I think about it too much, it’s a hyperventilation-worthy responsibility.  Every day around here presents not only excellent adventures and boundless laughs, but also potential dangers, and the more kids I have, the more danger my mind can conjure:  the baby attempts to choke on a piece of apple.  The 3-year-old falls headfirst into an upright culvert even though I’ve warned her not to get too close.  The 5-year-old’s foot is momentarily caught in the stirrup… and my heart is momentarily caught in my throat.

This mama encounters heart-in-your-throat moments every day.  And I know that as my kids grow bigger and get bigger toys and meet more people, the potential for danger will only increase.  Groan.

I’m not afraid to dream big dreams about my babies’ futures.  But I’m also very aware that the first thing I have to do is get them through Today.  And so far, by the grace of God, we have done that.

Lord, help me keep them all alive.

The good news is, I’m realizing slow but sure that I won’t always be able to control everything.  God and I are working together on the Blake Kids to Adulthood Project… and the day will come when I’ll have to hand the whole darn project over to Him.  My little girl will ride away with a motorcycle gang to get a tattoo and I won’t think it’s safe but I’ll no longer be in charge of her.  OR my little boy will romance a young woman who sure wouldn’t be my choice but I’ll no longer be in charge of him.

I’ll just have to let go and let God when that day comes.  But for today, we’re partners in this project:

Lord, help me keep them all alive.

By the way, it was a cow-shaped magnet in my shoe.  I’m blaming the baby… this time.  The same baby who slept in her crib for approximately 27 minutes before waking up tonight.  She’s asleep on my lap now as I type.  Guess I’ll just be thankful that she snoozed while I unloaded groceries.

(Photo credit goes to Aunt Sue.  Thanks, Aunt Sue — you know how much a mama appreciates a photo in which she looks socially acceptable and happy and is sharing the frame with one of her little dumplins.  To show you my appreciation, I’ve written you into my will… as the beneficiary of my children.)

© Tami Blake

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4 thoughts on “The Prayer I Pray Without Ceasing

  1. Too bad we didn’t see U. We left after 5. Got there ahead of everyone and had a nice visit Met Morris’s sister, neat lady, nurse- travels worldwide! Sad deal. When I go to Forsyth, get very nostalgic, many good memories over the years of being in Forsyth, and people, but, alas it is not the same anymore… Visited Frances and your mom a bit, then decided I’d better move and visit my cousin, but she was busy talking to somebody else… Wish I’d stayed and visited your mom and Frances more…

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    1. Hate we missed you. As usual, we were the last to get there and the last to leave! We were able to have a nice visit with Morris and Vick though. I asked Mom if you’d been there and she said you had but had already left.

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