When a broken elbow necessitated a trip to the emergency room for my 7-year-old last summer, I called a friend from church to see if she could stay with my four other children. She said she could. When I arrived home late that night with my newly casted daughter, my friend gave me an update on the day:
Being good dinner conversationalists isn’t something I usually hear about my children.
“I had such a lovely time with your children,” she said. “Truly lovely. We had a wonderful conversation over dinner.”
This surprised me. Some of my children have special needs, and all of my children are pretty quirky. Being good dinner conversationalists isn’t something I usually hear about them.
“That’s amazing,” I said. “Usually dinnertime in our house is a melee of children running around half-dressed and climbing on the table.”
My friend thought for a minute. “Well, I suppose that happened, too,” she said. “But we talked about so many interesting things while they were eating and climbing around! I really had fun.”
I needed to hear what my friend had to say that day. Too much time spent in the company of those who would focus on the ruckus instead of the joy had perhaps started to dull my own appreciation for the wild and wonderful rumpus that is my family.
Yes, my children were climbing around during dinnertime. But they also had interesting things to say. My friend chose to see the latter as more important. By seeing the good first, she reinforced for me—and my children!—that the beauty of life in a family isn’t always found through order and good table manners.
My friend came when she was needed, saw my children in all their unvarnished, messy glory, and still took delight in their company. And she helped me rediscover that delight, too.