So last night happened.
Honestly, if I were a weather forecaster, I should have seen this perfect storm whirling my way, shooting out a few lightning bolts. It was brewing for two weeks as my husband and I sprinted to keep up with the pace of American life, which still overwhelms us. (Me to him: “I don’t know how people do this well.” Him: “I’m not sure they do.”) As much as we’d thinned out the “must do’s” from the “should do’s”, the calendar was still practically leaning over with the weight of all that ink. Mix in more work deadlines than I have fingers, and my brain was starting to resemble mashed potatoes.
I’d shooed my husband off for the night after the rather listless look in his eyes the night before. So maybe you’ll get a picture of the craziness (“not the good kind!” my son clarified) we were in for with these numbers by the end of the night:
6 Halloween costumes, 1 sewn (for the first time) and discarded by my teenager (…yes, my kids participate in some festivities. I acknowledge a lot of opinions on this among Christians; different post for a different time.)
4: number of kids I actually have
2 pans of de-slopped, roasted pumpkin seeds
2 batches of brownies for the class party; 1 work-related phone call while I licked batter off my fingers
5: number of times I told my oh-so-obedient eight-year-old, while I was on the phone with my mother for a total of five minutes, to put down the knife. Now. I will carve your pumpkin.
2 cans of spray paint for one costume; 1 trip to Wal-Mart for the second can
1 person with hormonal overload (that would be me)
3 pumpkins carved for the school’s pumpkin walk (which was then cancelled)
2 sports practices
1 practice missed, though we were oblivious to that for an hour and a half
2 inches of snow falling outside
lost count: number of sibling arguments, overreactions, and children interrupting in the middle of patiently-attempted (at least the first six times) instructions
So maybe that explains why by 9 PM, I was stepping in pumpkin goo on the kitchen floor, and had already scrubbed three spots of still-wet red spray paint from the floor–remnants of a cardboard-box-turned-Lego costume that wasn’t completely dried.
As I clumped out to the car in my winter boots to pick up my daughter and make it in and out of Wal-Mart before we would all need to sleep there, it must have been God who reminded me, Hey. Don’t forget that these are memories to make with your kids, not just tasks. Be careful how you make them.
But it’s hard, in the midst of life and pumpkin goo on your Wonder Woman socks. It reminds me of when my kids were little, and my minivan was kind of overrun by sippy cups, Goldfish, and dog hair. People without any form of baby wipes or sleep deprivation in their lives were telling me wistfully, Make sure you enjoy this! I know it seems hard now, but it goes by so quickly. I would pat my frizzed hair back from my un-made-up face, pull my shirt with baby snot on in further down over my postpartum belly, shift my adorably tubby baby to my other hip, and try not to think, I kind of hope so. I guiltily added “enjoy kids more” to my bulging to-do list. Y’know, right under “take shower”.
For better or for worse, they were right. Those days were short.
Confession: At times of holidays and birthdays, I really have to work against this idea of more bricks, less straw. Because life’s not hectic enough, so let’s add some streamers and twelve other kids, right?! I know that sounds terrible. And honestly, if I was okay with doing less, I might actually enjoy these days, and my kids, more.
A lot of times, it’s not on purpose. After all, I signed up for the brownies three weeks ago, before I put together that I would be gluing red Solo cup bottoms on a cardboard Lego, or would have the mental capacity of a pencil eraser. I am, after all, new to this whole public school holiday party scene. (Rookie.)
God in the aftermath
The good news: We got everything done, and we had some laughs while doing it. The kids exulted in the end products the goopy journey there. But this morning, while they rolled over with their bedhead, I had to apologize–again–for being easily angered the night before. And I had to wrestle with my own failure. Yet again, there was a sizeable gap between the mom I want to be and the mom I am.
Someone reminded me today that my ability to blow it is not bigger than God’s ability to redeem. I recall a phone conversation with a friend years ago when I was telling her how I had to again come to one of my kids, confessing my epic fault. What she said shouldn’t have, but did, surprise me: “But that’s the total goal of parenting, right? Not our perfection, but our dependence.”
It’s good for me to think on this today, in the storm’s aftermath. In the wake of my weakness and holiday madness.
May it comfort you
if when you’re having a day like I did.
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