I wrote this several years ago when Brooke was 3, Ryder was 1, and I was pregnant with Braxton. However, this whole 24 hours was so epic, I had to share it. Who doesn’t need a good laugh? So enjoy. Solidarity, Momma. Solidarity.
My day started last night. But seriously. We have two kids: Brooke (3) and Ryder (1). I realize now that the “terrible twos” are a myth. Either that or we somehow zoomed right past two and catapulted into THREE. I wish there was a scary font for THREE. Or a sound effect of imminent doom. THREE. Don’t get me wrong, three started out like any other number. But in the last few weeks, I feel like spelling three “H-E-L-L.” My sweet, loving girl has started saying things like, “I won’t” and “Don’t do that” and “You won’t.” My usually submissive child throws herself on the floor when she doesn’t get her way. I spend most of my day disciplining. And crying. Lots of tears. Lots and lots of tears.
We have also entered the “scared of ERRRRRRthang” stage. Thursday morning we went to the doctor’s for a well visit, and Brooke basically had a nervous breakdown. We had several nurses and doctors in the room just to help me manage the situation. It was a blast. By the time we got home, I was crying. “Mommy, are you crying, too?” “Yes, baby. Mommy is crying.”
Yesterday at church, Brooke (and Ryder, he was guilty of this too) spent most of the day avoiding EVERYONE. And not just avoiding…recoiling anytime anyone would get within a few feet’s distance. I understand. I really do. Being a pastor’s kid is no joke, and I want to protect them from expectations and from being smothered. But I think my sensitivity gave way to all-out snobbery. We cannot have kids avoiding people at all costs. And hence my predicament.
So last night, I just lay awake trying to come up with some solutions. Because, friend, we ain’t gonna keep livin’ this way (all the ways). Am I right? I mean, I am four months pregnant (yes, I now agree with you that we are one fry short of a Happy Meal). We have got to get our act together! I came up with the brilliant idea of getting the kids involved in some free activities in the area that will get them out of their comfort zones and around others their ages. So we started with story time at the library. Or we thought we would. …
Because on my way home from dropping Bryant off at work, I ran out of gas. I won’t go into all of the details because he and I tell the story differently (hahaha), but it was great. So that happened. By the time we got that situated, we rushed home, threw on some clothes, and jumped in the car. We rolled into story time just as the first session was ending and the second was beginning. And you know what? It went fairly well. Except the part when I asked if my kids wanted a snack, only to see NO ONE else had snacks, which led to kids asking moms for their snacks, which led to me getting several dirty looks and attempting to secretly slip my children pieces of banana. To my defense, at the last story time we went to at another location, moms brought full-on meals for their kids. So there.
After story time, we headed home for naps. Thank God for naps. Amen?! When I went to get Brooke up from her nap, I came to the realization that she had been abnormally quiet. And as I walked past her room, I also noticed she was busy doing something. Upon further investigation, she was coloring. With a marker. On my Kindle. So that was nice. After another “We only color on paper” chat, we got up to play.
While Ryder and Brooke were playing upstairs, I snuck downstairs to start on dinner. After several minutes, I heard Brooke: “Mommy! Mommy! I have something on my foot!” I told her to come down so I could see. On her way, I asked, “What is it?” Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. She answered, “I think it’s poop!” And it was. Yes, it was poop. Which was no longer on her foot. It was now all down the stairs and across the bottom floor. As I picked her up, I said, “Okay, no one panic!” and I rushed upstairs to figure out what in the wonderful world happened. Well, it didn’t take me long because at the top of the stairs stood, very proudly mind you, my very naked son. And then it dawned on me. I had put a pull-up on him right before nap time because the extra diapers were downstairs and I just couldn’t muster the energy to get them. A pull-up would do. But it obviously didn’t do. It must have bothered him ‘cause when he got up, he was acting very annoyed with it. I figured it would pass. Oh, it did. He just figured he could go without. And that he did. I traced the poopy footprints to the scene of the crime, and I will just spare you the details. I grabbed both kids, covered, and rushed them to the changing table to stop the bleeding so to speak. Then, I threw them in the tub and commenced cleaning up “Poop Mageddon 2016.” Somehow, I was able to see the humor in it all. But only because Jesus loves me and helped me find it funny. Or I was high on the smell. Who really knows.
You know what, though? I learned some things about myself today. I learned that I too quickly tie my kids’ behavior to my identity. I want them to be good so I look good. I want them to be good so my life is easy. It’s sad but true. And, I take myself and life too seriously. I want everything perfect. Everyone dressed in new clothes, eating well-balanced meals, in a clean house, with lots of activities and toys, and no TV (because that’s for the lazy parent — she wrote sarcastically). But that’s not real life. More often than not, we are in faded play clothes, eating cheese sticks and Captain Crunch, watching Doc McStuffins and Frozen amidst piles of laundry. And that’s okay.
Parenting isn’t perfect. But it should be intentional. And that’s what I’m learning. I try to live out my walk with Jesus so that my kids come into it naturally. And instead of getting exasperated the moment they start acting out (like kids), I try to take a deep breath and choose to see it as an opportunity to teach them the correct response. I have found it’s all in the approach. The mindset. But I have to be determined. Or I can slip into self-pity and frustration and forget my littles are people whose hearts need shaped by the Savior.
The Scriptures say children are “a blessing and a heritage from the Lord”; “they are arrows in the hands of a mighty warrior.” And I agree with Andy Stanley that my greatest contribution is not something I do, but the someones I raise. THEY are my legacy. So I’m grabbing hold of this mother thing with both hands and diving in headfirst. Because “the days are long, but the years are short” (thank you, Sandra Stanley) and someday “I’m gonna miss this” (gotta love that country song).
So here’s to crazy, poopy, wild, insane days when we cry more than laugh and fall into bed exhausted. May we be reminded that we have to lean into our Savior. May we glimpse visions of Him through our parenting. May we love on our kids’ hearts, shaping them to see their Jesus in the everyday moments. May we live in the moment.
Cheers to you, sweet Momma! Keep on keepin’ on!