The Easter I Almost Cracked

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As my children age, each year I am more incredulous at God's radical, unfathomable sacrifice. I love my children so much. How, how could anyone ever love people so much they'd let their son - their only son - suffer so much? It must have been so incredibly hard for God to watch. I cringe thinking of the first time my kids will get made fun of. I can't imagine watching throngs of hundreds mock him, beat him, gamble for his clothing, and kill him brutally. I mean, I know it's America in the 21st century and no one is hung, but still. That's a crazy love that becomes all at once more difficult and more fulfilling and more humbling to accept with each cherished moment with my own children.

I'd told Geoff I'd watch a movie with him the night before Easter, but the time got away - vacuuming, putting out baskets, fishing through boxes of warm weather clothing I thought surely we'd be wearing by now to find Easter outfits buried at the bottom. Ironing. Towels. Dishes. Floors. Laundry. Clutter control. Things had just reached a critical point all at once. I never got time to watch a movie. So we watched a little TV and called it a night. Lately, we're on to Surviving Jack, which. is. hilarious.

Even though I was ready for bed at a decent hour, I just need that time alone at night to be with my thoughts. I looked out over our almost snow-free yard and thinking about when, when was the exact moment that the miracle of resurrection happened? How did it play out? It must have been Saturday night. Was it right during this minute now, that I am awake? What did it look like? For days it looked to his followers like nothing but death, while his soul was in Hell. A still reminder that a person is a soul, inhabiting a body, and not the other way around.

I was woken up by a sweet little face inches from mine, whispering a warm little "Easters egg? Easters egg, Mommy? Easters egg?" and nursed her back to sleep in our bed. But I was awoken again by a little boy under our bed, yelling, "I AM LOOKING FOR EASTER EGGS! I DON'T SEE ANY UNDER HERE!" It couldn't have been even 7 am yet.

They each had an Easter egg nestled in their beds to wake up to. Downstairs, the Easter Bunny had hidden 33 eggs. (Who knows where the other 3 are from last year.) Although I was disappointed in myself for not nabbing jelly beans at the store over the past month, I recalled my self-talk: "Now's the time to sneak some into the grocery cart, quick! No, they'll see me and they'll never believe in the Easter Bunny again. Oh, just get some. No, wait, don't let them see you looking. "C, get your hands off HER NECK! If you touch her again, you have to walk." Oh, my gosh. We've been in here an hour and a half. And I still have to get bone-in chicken and garbage bags. Or was that boneless, skin-on? Boneless, skinless? Hands to yourself! Ok, that's it. "NO MOMMY!" Out of the cart. "NO!" You're walking. "NO! I was just eating her up because I'm a dino!" Sweetie, touching is touching, whether you're pretending or not. Wait, why am I here? Oh yeah - *sigh* y'know, if I buy Easter candy, it's just going to be a big battle, they're going to beg for it, they're going to dribble it all over the sofa...it's not worth it."

Luckily, Geoff remembered that last year the Easter Bunny stuffed a Cheerio into each egg. *YES!* Thank you, Geoff.

Looking for eggs
Looking for eggs

Predictably, it took forever to get to church. After years of practice, I've decided on an order of operations. The child most likely to mess him/herself up gets dressed last.

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The first time Bunny is played with.
The first time Bunny is played with.
*This* is what happens when you try to pose kids.
*This* is what happens when you try to pose kids.
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Photo. Shoot. Over.
Photo. Shoot. Over.

C decided to attend big church, during which he attempted to stack Bibles to make himself a booster seat, but we stopped him this time. He sat by me and caressed his lips up and down my upper arm, kissing me over and over, occasionally giving me a raspberry. In his defense, it was the first time he's seen my upper arms since....August.

Then he sat in my lap, but because he's getting taller, his face is *right* in front of my face. So I lean slightly to the side, slooooowly so he doesn't notice he has the power to put his face in front of mine. But he does notice. So I lean the other way, and he leans around to put his head on the other side of my head, and back and forth. We go about this slow, silent chicken dance through at least one hymn. Then he notices that his jon-jons unsnap at the crotch. "No! No unsnap crothch!" "Hehehehehehehehe!"

Astonishingly, our pastor preached about the very moment of resurrection.

Finally, after service we collected all the bitties up front and took their picture.

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And afterwards, a really nice lady offered to take one of all four of us.

Not only is it our 3rd family portrait ever, it's also the exact moment G learned to look at the camera and smile. Gosh, it's like someone told her she got a rabbit made out of chocolate or something.
Not only is it our 3rd family portrait ever, it's also the exact moment G learned to look at the camera and smile. Gosh, it's like someone told her she got a rabbit made out of chocolate or something.
He insisted on wearing his sister's cape.
He insisted on wearing his sister's cape.

Next, we went to brunch at Riverside Market, a farm, vineyard, wine market, and restaurant all in one. The kids were adorable and angelic. They danced to the music and visited almost every table in the restaurant. They were so cute that total strangers were taking their picture. G told the waitress "No fank you" and "yes please." C had me carry him to a square table with 7 college girls. He insisted I sit him in the spare chair, whereupon he announced, "Hewwo Wadies! Happy Easter, everyone!" And while the table dissolved into giggles and cell phones taking his picture, he wanted me to carry him away while he smiled and waved. What a stinker.

I had the crab eggs benedict, and it was amazing - fresh hollandaise. Geoff had the monte cristo, and the kids split French toast. There was a jazz trio performing, and they played "Nature Boy," one of my favorites.

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That afternoon, Geoff wasn't feeling well and also had some work to do, so he went downstairs into our basement office. The kids were up from a restless nap, early. I put pressure on myself that we would dye real eggs together. But I totally forgot you're supposed to hard-boil them first! We enjoyed chocolate bunny time.

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But afterwards, I was trying to fuss with hard-boiling a bunch of eggs by myself, with two really wild, sleep-deprived, chocolate-stained children. Every time I turned to deal with the eggs, someone was climbing on someone or someone was hanging on my legs, or something. I just could not pull it together. When I get really stressed, one of my coping mechanisms is calling people on the phone. Sometimes I call my mom just to ask her what I should fix them for lunch. All I need sometimes is just someone to make a decision for me. "How about PB&J with carrots?" Perfect. Done. That's all I needed! It seems simple, like I should be able to to this. And usually I have a weekly menu written out. But sometimes I don't. And then, when I open the fridge to chicken leftovers, a half-eaten restaurant cupcake, carrots, and cream cheese, someone walks into the fridge and starts climbing the shelf or popping open the ketchup or trying to take a beer out, or *something* before I can complete half a thought! Today I called my mom while they jumped around like chimpanzees. All was fine until I laid down. G jumped on my tummy, facing away. And then she did it. She railed back all the way. Just laid straight down. On. My. Nose. Oh. My. GOSH!! (Well, I said a lot more than, "Oh my gosh." On Easter Sunday. Skyping with my mother.) I started crying. Not only did it hurt, but I didn't have eggs hard boiled and little dye cups made and set out on the table, ready to call Geoff up for some fun egg dying.

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But with my screaming, Geoff came up anyway. And he fixed the cups while I watched the children. Then we did dye eggs together. And the kids stuck their little hands straight into the dye, G tried to eat one of the fizzing dye tablets, and some eggs were cracked. But it was nice just to all be together. Even if I did haev to ice my nose.

I didn't mean to get overwhelmed. It's just that there are just so many holidays right together! From hand turkeys to Easter eggs, the expectations just do not let up until May! It's a holiday a month. And throw in a couple of birthdays, other kids' birthdays, housework, a deep winter for the first time, and two toddlers...and you have a mama who's just had enough.

How did I make it this far? I have an awesome husband who helps me keeps my expectations in check. Around Thanksgiving each year, we make a written list of Christmas things we want to do, and circle the ones that are important enough to actually attempt with babies & toddlers around, and do those. And only those. It works really well. Maybe I should do that for every holiday.

But when all was said and done, Geoff was right. It wouldn't have mattered if we didn't dye eggs at all. I'm just not going to be able to dye eggs with natural food and spice dyes, while listening to festive mood music, with Easter themed drinks and snacks. It's just not going to happen. They're going to east chocolate bunnies in their undies, run around like wild animals, and that's OK.

The only reason I put this pressure on myself is because it's my version of happy memories. But it doesn't have to be theirs, right now, all the time, all the way, and that's OK. Because whatever happens will be their memories, happy just because it's theirs, just because we're us. And that's enough.

After all, I'm reminded of "Nature Boy," which the jazz trio played. Though no one sang, I knew the lyrics, and they said it all:

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."

The last egg is still waiting...
The last egg is still waiting...
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It was empty. But that was enough.