The small cuckoo clock in the front living room rings every hour and half hour.
Actually, its not a cuckoo clock at all – it is an old Dutch sanse clock that I got from a flea market just outside of Nijmegen, Netherlands. It has the mystical god Atlas mounted atop a chime – and of course, Atlas is holding up the world.
The chime is small, but clear and beautiful. The truth is we have gotten so used to it, that I’m not sure anyone in the house really notices it anymore. But, I do… at least I try to around 7pm.
Seven chimes are important around our house. They tell us that the afternoon is spent, the working hours are past and it is time to “put the house to bed.”
The chimes are almost always heard while we are sitting at the dinner table, finishing up our evening meal together. “Hurry guys! We’ve got to get this house put to bed!” Everyone knows that is the call to arms.
Esther snaps to attention and grabs the broom and begins sweeping the floor.
Joshua slowly but surely takes command of the sink and dishwasher.
Jared – when he finally stops playing around and making everyone laugh – starts heading out to do the evening chores with Hyrum.
Hyrum grabs a half gallon pitcher and goes with Jared to do chores… that would be milking the goat for Hyrum and feeding the animals for Jared.
Isaac and Brigham pick up the floor and clear the table.
Mary gets a bottle and heads down to bed.
Sariah and Margie quietly sit in the rocking chair singing lullabies and nursing.
When it is all said and done, the hustle, bustle and clutter of the day are swept aside. The dishes are done, the floor clean, and the table cleared. The cushions on the couches (always in a state of disarray from pillow fights, tickle time, naps, and fort making) are fluffed and put back in their proper place. The bathroom is straightened up and the library floor is cleared of the countless books that have been pulled off shelves by little hands and eager minds.
In short, our little home is ready for another day of chaos, fun, learning, eating, playing, and resting.
Pajamas are on and everyone goes down the staisr to start the bedtime ritual. With the upstairs empty, I make the rounds, turning out lights and inspecting the night’s work. More often than not, I find myself pausing at the light switch between the dining room and hallway. From there I can see into the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, down to the bathroom and a small glimpse of my office. Call me a romantic, nostalgic fool, but in my mind I can see the little feet pattering over the tile floor… I see the older children learning, reading, writing, and learning at the table… I hear the voices of laughter, and yes, sometimes frustration and anger, as my children learn to get along together… I see the bright eyes of home and the mess of living with 8 children.
A sense of awe and wonder always fills me in those reflective moments. “How can life be so rich, so full, so exciting, so wonderful?” I wonder. It’s times like this when the goodness and greatness of God simply overwhelm me.
With that, I sigh, reach out and turn out the last light. In the darkness, peals of laughter and the sounds of bedtime come drifting up the stairs, beckoning to me like an irresistible siren’s song.
As I reach the stairs, that old Dutch clock in the living room peals its own quiet note of laughter – 7:30pm and all is well. As the sweet sound reaches my ears I whisper, “Good night home,” and I eagerly head down to join the fun.