Lunch was scrubbed off of the dining room table, and the long, shouty process of putting the toddlers down for their naps was in full swing. I popped the banana-chocolate chip muffins into the oven and vacuumed the floors and rugs, tucking toys and spoons and socks and whatnots into my apron pocket while I worked. Our rooms slowly relaxed into peaceable order and beauty (I cannot abide a tight and fussy beauty, but a gentle one I adore). I did not present a perfection, but removed distracting static. At its best, this preparation is a gift of love, at its worst a wild vanity parade. Today was on the better side, so I had a calm heart.
I was to see two dear souls at three. At two thirty the babies had all succumbed to sleep and I brewed some rich coffee and heaped the still-warm muffins in a wooden bowl, and arranged delicate sand tarts on a pewter dish. Tea and coffee accruements were brought to the low, cozy coffee table in anticipation of warm conversations and refreshments, feet tucked under us on the plush sofas, hands wrapped around steaming mugs. The hour ticked past three and I thought to check my messages; see if anything went awry.
I’d missed one from my friend; sadly they couldn’t come as transportation had fallen through. I looked at the celebratory and cozy spread and mourned the loss of all the delightful catching-up and companionship it had anticipated facilitating. What a grief to not see these dear friends!
Gladly, it has been my habit to “accept all things as from God’s hands”, so I promptly decided to keep the feast and give it as a gift to my children; to welcome them home from school as warmly as I’d hoped to welcome my friends. Shamefully, their welcome is usually a quick hug and then a chore list and a harangue about the places they’ve decided to dump their backpacks and shoes and lunch boxes. I rarely quiet myself enough at that hour of the day to truly be present to them, dinner preparation being in full swing.
They sat down around the coffee table in frank amazement at the deliciousness laid out for them. Tea or coffee? Their days’ events came out easily, without me fishing; one son smiled wide and declared that I was “the best mom”. He truly felt welcomed, warmed, treasured. I felt sad that this sort of thing was such a rarity; though, I give myself grace; my fly-about madly-cooking days are also works of love, just differently felt, differently received. This was special.
I was reminded how essential it is to care for our loved ones not only in industriously tending to their physical needs, but sensitively to their emotional ones too. To welcome not only guests, but the ones who live under this very roof.