It was early on Saturday morning and I was already in a foul mood. I had been coughed, sneezed, and snotted on too many times to count by 8am. There is just something about wiping someone else’s mucus off of your face that will cause you to get up on the wrong side of the bed.
Not today. I don’t want to be in the trenches of motherhood today. I don’t want to be so heavily needed.
It’s not that I didn’t want to spend the day with my kids – I did. I just wanted them to wipe their own butts, blow their own noses, properly brush their own teeth, cook their own meals, clean up after themselves, and use their inside voices. And for the love of organization, I wanted them to just pick one or two toys out at a time rather than dump four bins and decide that they have nothing to play with! I didn’t want to become the broken record that I am by the end of each day by repeating, “Be gentle. Be careful. Be kind.”
After a long week of working mommy, today was stay-at-home-mommy day. I was girding my loins for a full day in the trenches when I felt so ill-equipped to be leading my troops. My husband had a ten hour shift and the kids and all of my neglected housework from the week lay before me. I just didn’t want to do any of it.
Before my husband left for work he could already sense my poor attitude. I had raised my voice to one of the kids over something that really didn’t necessitate a raised voice. He called me out on it. While I knew he was right, I was less-than-thrilled that my weaknesses were being pointed out right in the middle of me displaying said weakness. I accepted the accountability, but I did give him an icy stare-down for about 30 seconds.
My husband also pointed out that this was my day off and I look forward to stay-at-home-mommy day all week. That’s when my thoughts overtook me. Shouldn’t I be thrilled? Don’t I know how blessed I am? Aren’t there so many couples who would trade places with me in a minute? Am I a horrible mother? The thing is, recognizing how blessed I am only made me feel worse because I couldn’t seem to legitimize my feelings.
Then, as if on cue, Satan made sure that guilt (who he always has on-call) came to keep me company.
I finished my coffee with guilt, grabbed some lunch with guilt (and I severely burnt my tongue), and started the laundry with guilt.
Then something happened.
My oldest son went to spend some time with his grandparents and it was just me and my youngest who was fighting a nasty cough. My little one coughed so hard that he threw up all over the living room. Then he just stood there looking at me with his big, blue eyes saying “Mommy, mommy, help me!”
I was the only one who could comfort him and clean him up and assure him that it was okay and he would be fine. He needed me and in that moment I was so glad that I could meet those needs.
When I got him situated, I suddenly felt like I was walking around without one of my limbs. I realized that I missed my oldest son terribly and he had only been gone for a whopping ten minutes. It turns out that I wanted to be needed after all.
I stopped what I was doing and prayed. I begged God for forgiveness and prayed that He would give me strength and a change in my attitude. I can’t do this parenting thing on my own. The trenches can be downright suffocating and I’m truly not equipped to deal with all of these responsibilities every day. But He is – God is the only one who can give me the ability to deal with life. Not only that, but my feelings are legitimate to God. He wants me to pour out my heart to Him rather than keep everything so bottled up that I fantasize about running away (I would never do that, but you know what I mean…maybe just a few hours alone in a bookstore).
I had to continue praying to get through all of my duties for the remainder of the day. That and the four peanut butter melt-away Easter eggs that I may or may not have eaten seemed to do the trick. I had a renewed sense of energy to tackle my housework and care for my sick son. By the end of the day, my precious toddler was feeling better and he asked me to dance with him when he heard his favorite song in a movie. We danced and twirled ourselves into a fit of laughter and it was amazing.
Not every day ends on a high note and not every day feels like I am deep within the trenches. But, at this time in my life there are enough of those brutal days that can leave me feeling pretty discouraged if I let them. I’m just going to refuse to let the hard times get me down. This is far from my last rough day as a mother, but because I have Christ by my side for eternity I know that I will never be left to handle it on my own.