I am blessed and I am cursed … by the same quality.
It’s like different sides of the same coin.
I see more than meets the eye.
Take cookies for example.
When my husband says, “Can we make cookies?” all he sees is a yummy cookie to eat in the end.
I see a process of softening butter to the perfect temperature, adding ingredients in the right order, mixing but not overmixing, manning the stove every eight to ten minutes for the next hour, scrubbing cookie sheets, washing beaters and bowls, and wiping off counters. Then on a deeper level, I see calories, temptation, sugar, past failures, weakness, research, life goals, family legacies, and competition. (Remind me to tell you about the epic Cookie Bake Off someday.)
So “Can we make cookies?” is a much bigger decision for me than it is for my husband. My ‘making cookies’ takes way more energy, time, and emotional well-being than his ‘making cookies’. Sometimes my ability to see so much sucks the joy out of ordinary activities.
But on the other hand, my perspective can bring me deeper joy as well.
Every day this week, as I’ve pulled up to my house, I’ve seen these carved pumpkins on my front porch. Most people just see carved pumpkins, but I see more than meets the eye.
To me these carved pumpkins represent a better place. Last year we had just moved and I was wiped out emotionally, physically, and mentally. We didn’t carve pumpkins; I didn’t decorate for Halloween; I missed a family party, and I put zero effort into Halloween costumes. We didn’t even really go traditional trick-or-treating. While this year, I still put zero effort into Halloween costumes, everything else is different. My house looks like Halloween barfed all over. I made it to the family party with a spooky fruit tray, and we carved elaborate pumpkins. My energy and spirits are up from last year.
This family of pumpkins on the front porch reminds me of my little family. The five pumpkins are all different sizes and all different shapes. They show off my kids’ individuality: Crew carved a football player. Croft created a vomiting pumpkin. Elle used a variation of her initials to form a Halloween word, and Locke picked a traditional scary witch. Chad had been traveling tons and was home for two nights out of 14 days. This was one of his nights home and we were so happy to have him present.
These pumpkins also symbolize my awesome husband. He took total control of the pumpkin carving this year. Locke was sick that day and had a fever. I had been up since 4:00 that morning so I was running out of steam. Plus I was trying to wrap up laundry and dinner and dishes. My husband got all the supplies set up in the garage. He and the kids gutted every pumpkin; then he helped each child carry out his/her carving vision. When I finally made it to the garage, I was a bump on a log and loved every minute of it. I just got to sit there in a big camping chair snuggling my sick little guy while watching everyone else work. It was a rare moment when I didn’t have to be all things to all the kids. Chad took care of everything else including clean-up.
These pumpkins represent service. Locke was sick so Elle carved his pumpkin for him. She let him pick out what design he wanted and she carved it, before hers I might add. Chad carved his pumpkin very last after all the kids were helped, and he did a design that Croft wanted him to do.
Lastly, the carved pumpkins remind me of potential and hope for what our family can be. Sometimes the fighting and lack of effort in my home drives me to bed. But that night was different. The kids got along well and all were deeply engaged and focused. I was so proud of how much time and detail and effort they put into their pumpkins. I was reminded that they are capable, creative kids that can do a good job.They supported and complimented each other’s designs, and the highlight of the night was that there was no fighting.
I got to observe all this beauty from my camping chair, and every time I see my pumpkins on the front porch a wave of joy and appreciation comes over me.
Sometimes I wish I could simplify and just see the cookie as a cookie, but then I would have to just see the pumpkin as a pumpkin. So for now I will just be me and realize weaknesses are strengths and strengths are weaknesses.