It's a crazy time at our house. Everyone in the family is moving into a new bedroom. The set up will allow Elaina and Zoya each their own rooms (desperately needed... the shared room just wasn't working; Elaina is a light sleeper and Zoya has been getting into trouble with her for horribles things in the middle of the night, like, for instance, ...coughing.) Polly and Evie will still share, but are moving into Elaina and Zoya's old room. Zoya gets the guest room, Elaina gets our old room complete with a big closet (the clincher for her) and Serg and I will move into the largest of the four rooms in order to provide a bigger writing space for me at home.
I cleaned out the basement. We have nine Rubbermaids full of clothes that will be sold (hopefully) at the end of May at a garage sale in Michigan. And I'm slightly obsessed with Craigslist. I've sold the guest bed and the bunk beds and a dresser and bought Elaina's bed, Zoya's loft bed and a dresser, all in a week. My poor husband has acquired a second job as a furniture delivery man. Two rooms are being painted, and I've purchased new bedding. At some point, this all should be finished and we may get back to some semblance of normal around here. Maybe.
We are busy in other ways too. Polly and Evie each have yearly checkups in May and June: Ophthalmology, audiology, spinal scans, neurology, pediatrician general check ups, ENT, what else?, I am probably supposed to be somewhere right now... crap, where did I put the family calendar? I am thinking about schooling for Evie and Polly next year and their upcoming IEPs, forms for the older girls' summer camps (Elaina, theatre camp, Zoya, day camp) and carving out hours to finish the second draft of my book.
I'm not showered, but I did brush my teeth. There are two loads of clean, folded laundry on the dinning room table. Evie is playing with a push toy (big progress!), Zoya is home from school with the flu, Sergei's at the church and Elaina is at a friend's house mommy helping.
To be sure, it's too much. As I write Polly sits beside me, working on her lines and circles. Pre-writing skills are coming slowly. She is poking me gently on the cheek with her pencil. "Mom, write with me?" she asks over and over.
And somehow, I am thinking today about trees. In Ukraine, after Polly's birth, there was a tall, lifeless tree outside my window at the hospital. It was the beginning of April. There were no leaves, no green, hardly any sunshine. A bird sat at the tip of the tree every day, all day, for twenty days, while I waited for my daughter to gain strength and be well enough to go home. The bird became my friend. My world had been picked up and shaken like a snow globe with Polly's diagnosis of Down syndrome. He was still and peaceful. His presence soothed me.
While I've been running up and down the stairs of our two story house, flowers have bloomed outside. The trees are full of luscious, green leaves. Dandelions are growing on the front lawn.
I am drawn to the trees. I position my writing desk to look out the window. The tall limbs help me to breathe. I watch for birds and think and write. I love to look at an oak tree against a bright blue sky.
We are busy. And most days I am stressed, and worried, and unsure of parenting and writing and the new pair of jeans I bought at Target and if I am giving my best to God. But we are in a good spot, a time of peace and joy. A time of sunshine and tree leaves and for that, I am truly thankful.
I have a secret, though, something I didn't know before Polly came along. Something I wouldn't have learned had my life gone exactly as planned.
The barren tree has purpose. How else could I appreciate spring blossoms without experiencing seasons of of emptiness? I've grown , my family has grown, and when I see a beautiful green tree I can give thanks. I realize more barren trees are in my future. That's just life. I hope I remember my secret about purpose and growth. The busy-ness of Spring will come back around for us in God's time.
And there is untapped beauty in empty trees.