Easter in the 60s. See our happy faces? This small meltdown didn’t ruin the whole day or my childhood memories. 🙂 I actually don’t even remember why we were so upset. I only remember the candy, the family dinner with Grandma and Grandpa, and how pretty I felt in my Easter clothes.
Sure, your juggling act with your five kids is impressive. And you even home school? I enjoy seeing you out with your family laughing and playing. It’s fun seeing you strolling with your hubby hand-in-hand down by the river. Ah, lovely.
But here I am arguing with my young daughter during our family outing to the city park. The kids are pouting because I can’t afford to get them ice-cream afterwards. The eight year old and the 21 year old are fighting like cats and dogs and I can’t convince the older one that she should be too mature to act like that. The eight year splashes through a puddle and gets the toddler’s dress covered in mud. It’s yet another exhausting attempt to create beautiful memories with my own family that ends with me being so mad my head might explode.
I want to be overjoyed every moment the baby wants me to hold him, but I wanted to take a shower by myself or write a blog or read a book or talk on the phone or…and he is just not happy today unless I’m holding him. I blurt out something to the effect that I wish he’d just shut up and give me two minutes to myself! Then my heart sinks. What kind of person would say such a thing?
It’s movie night and the popcorn is popped. I’ve pictured us all snuggled up on the sofa together giggling at the silly scenes on the TV screen and munching on our snack. “No!” says the baby to the older child. “NOOOOO!” She says again, kicking at him as he tries to scoot closer to us and get under the blanket. His face drops and he plops himself on the floor. I try to deal with her fit and she answers with a high pitched scream that pierces my eardrums. This goes on for ten minutes.
Not to be deterred, I start the movie anyhow. Maybe she’ll get distracted and he’ll perk up. But he complains that his drink is gone and he doesn’t want water he wants pop and why does he have to have water again when he had to drink water earlier and…the screaming goes on. I am not a happy camper and begin to whine to God about why the kids are always so bad and why they have to ruin everything and why can’t our family just get along. Are we all mentally ill? Or what? Or am I just a bad mom for not knowing how to handle all of this?
Somewhere in my heavy heart I feel that I must be God’s biggest disappointment ever. What will my kids say about me to their psychiatrists later on in life when they try to describe these family times to him or her? Will they actually have any nice memories of our lives together?
And then, one day I see a status update on Facebook from someone whose parenting skills I admire, saying that she’s about ready to curl up in a little ball and cry she’s had such a stressful day with her kids.
Or I’m cleaning house for some folks who are super involved in our church, have adopted kids to add to their already large family, and are the most sweet, patient people you could ever hope to know.
I’m on my knees scrubbing gum off their daughters’ floor when all craziness breaks loose downstairs with their teenaged son. My ears perk up. What in the world? Their disagreement is becoming a loud argument and I begin to pray for them. And while I do, I thank God that I was there to hear all that going on.
It touches me at a very tender, raw spot deep in my heart that God loved me enough to place me there at that very time and space with those particular people. Maybe I wasn’t some oddball loser parent who had no right to bring children into the world. Maybe we humans are just a mess somewhere along the way no matter how wonderful we might be.
Maybe I was in a (slow) process of becoming something better all the time. Maybe, just maybe, this weakness of mine would actually help me to lean on God more and show my kids that you don’t get to be perfect in this life, but you do get to be loved.
You practice love. You learn it as you go. You love people when they’re ugly and you search out their beauty. You forgive and you go on. You rub each other the wrong way and you sharpen each other. That’s God’s plan.
So, thanks for your honesty when you allowed me to see your meltdown. Thanks for trusting me when you cried in front of me and confided in me. Thanks for asking me to pray. And thanks for letting me be a little crazy, too, sometimes.