I have had quite a week, or maybe it’s been two. There’s been too much chaos to really be sure. Do you ever just want a do-over?!? That is how I have felt at different moments these last couple of weeks. This mom stuff is crazy hard!!
It all seemed to start one Sunday morning. I was trying to get the littles up and ready for church. My husband had gone ahead of us and I wanted to meet him on time. Despite my efforts to spur the littles on, breakfast was eaten painfully slow. Getting cleaned up and dressed didn’t go much better, as I faced some groans and attitude. I finally reminded Little Bear of the rule to “obey right away…” She finished it off in a sing-song voice, while skipping down the hall, “… and with a happy heart.”
With departure time quickly approaching, I gave a firm direction for everyone to get their shoes on and be ready. I had just enough time to frantically finish getting reasonably ready myself, before we would need to rush out the door.
When I went to gather the littles, I found my son bare footed and holding a guinea pig. With a raised voice, I reminded him I had said to get shoes on and now we were clearly late. I finished with a firm “You were suppose to obey right away….” and out of habit I added “…and with a happy heart.” Unfortunately it sounded like I spit those last few words out. I saw the effect of my tone immediately. My son gave me a hurt look, and mournfully asked “How can I have a happy heart when you are yelling at me?”
I wish I could say I stopped and attended to the relationship with my son. I wish I could say my words and tone softened. I knew his words were true. I wanted to stop snipping. Yet in that moment I had only one focus. We were not on time. We had to be ready. We…I had to have it all together. We…I had to be perfect.
As we drove through the neighborhood, seeking the exit, I wanted to breathe a sigh of relief. My stomach was in knots. I kept telling myself to calm down. Being late was not the end of the world. From the backseat the littles chatted and squabbled. Clearly not operating in the self-control gift of the spirit, I demanded silence. I breathed another deep sigh, and asked for quiet, explaining that mom was upset and needed a moment.
I prayed. I wrestled with emotion. I considered my sons downcast face and knew I needed to make this right. For mercy sake, I just knew he was going to go to church and tell his Sunday school teacher about our morning.
Finally, mustering all the calm I could, I asked my son to forgive me. He did. I didn’t deserve forgiveness. I’m not sure if my request was truly repentant, or just an effort to avoid him sharing his wounded heart with his friends and teachers.
Arriving at church, we greeted friends that were leaving after having attended the early service. I was so excited to have seen them. We would have missed them had we not been late. Even with the brief greetings, the littles were to classes and my husband and I to service only minutes after worship music began. Others filtered in after us.
Songs of praise filled the air. I did not join. I listened. I listened to the teaching. I gathered my children from class. I moved through my day. One day turned to two and then three and so on. My heart remained heavy and I waited.
One morning, during my quiet time, that still small voice asked, “What are your expectations?”
Oh do I have hopes and expectations as I face each day. I expect, the sun will rise, I will have coffee, I will breathe, the kids will obey, my husband will love me, the dog will want a treat, the internet will work, love will not fail, I will experience joy, and so, so much more.
Considering my expectations, I knew the only ones I could count on were those that fell upon God. Only God never fails. But, yet, what about joy? God did not promise happiness, but what about joy?
My days continued on. Life was crazy. I felt psychotic and unfocused. I struggled to get through tasks, and there wasn’t a moment of calm to make a quiet phone call. I cringe to think about emails I’d sent in haste. I’m sure my husband thought I was on the verge of a breakdown. Even the dog had assumed a passive nature and quietly laid, or maybe hid, on her bed.
With the arrival of a new weekend, was the arrival of date night. With no family in the area for babysitting help, a date night is rare. I don’t even recall when we last had a real dinner out date night.
We drove down the road in almost complete silence. There were no children to fill the silence with random noise. At first it was kind of nice. Eventually I felt like we should be talking, but I had no idea what to say. I finally broke the silence over dinner to discuss my latest plans for changes to my blog and hopes of new topics to write about. Blah, blah, blah. Anything other than silence or discussing the children directly. The children. Those beloved creatures. Fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Those little people who I had hoped and prayed for, yet now they seemed to suck the life right out of me. Those precious children I was away from. I silently prayed they were doing well with the babysitter.
Following dinner we were off to a movie. We selected Moms’ Night Out. I had seen the previews, yet as the movie began…..I didn’t expect…… The audience broke out in laughter several times and yet I sat, quiet, tears threatening to stream down my cheeks. No, I could not cry. I’m too strong to cry!
The chaos of life and the stress of a mother overwhelmed, shown on the big screen, just hit too close. Any other time it would have been hysterical. Any other time I would have laughed along with an audience of parents that could find the humor in relating to the challenges of parenting. This night, my tank was empty. I was that exhausted mom on the screen. I was that hysterical mom, seemingly insane, paralyzed by stress.
When I finally did laugh at the movie, a muscle in my stomach began to spasm and cramp. I hadn’t laughed that hard for so long. Mid movie I began to wonder, when was the last time that I really laughed!?!
In the end, I began to find my joy. I felt encouraged to know I was not alone. I felt validated to see how hard it is being a full-time mom. I was especially thankful my husband was sitting next to me. Although he has never suggested my job is easy, I need his encouragement more than he knows.
God hand picked me to be the mother of my crazy crew of littles. He hand picked my children and entrusted them to me. He did not promise it would be easy. Therefore, I’m setting aside my expectations. I will trust in the promises of God.
Her children will arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Proverbs 31:28
This is, and will always be, the hardest job I will ever love! Happy mothers day!