Sometimes grace is all you’ve got

Today, simply put, is “one of those days.”  And it’s only 1:23 in the afternoon right now.

Last night I wasn’t tired when I went to bed, so I allowed myself to go to sleep late.  I said to Greg, “Gosh, I hope Zach doesn’t get up at 5:30 again like this morning.”  I prayed, wanting to have a good attitude, asking God that regardless of when I would be woken up, that I would be the mom He wants me to be.  Of course, I also requested that his will would coincide with mine, meaning an appropriate wake-up time would be around 7 a.m.  I asked God to give me the strength to love Greg and our kids the way He wants me to love them.  (This is a consistent prayer of mine.)

Then God, or Zach, or both of them, woke me up at 5:07 this morning.  It’s only mid-day, and I’ve already been working more than eight hours.  When my day starts like this, it’s so easy for the runaway train of negativity to take over my thoughts.  Exhaustion for me leads to impatience, lashing out, and a slew of other not-so-beautiful traits.

The day has not presented itself with more challenges than any normal day would with a 27-month-old know-it-all toddler and a 10-month-old curious and fast-moving baby.  But every tug on my pants, temper tantrum and trip over the dog is just that much more difficult to suck down with a smile than usual.

Speaking of the dog, she really has a barking issue.  When anyone comes near the door, she sometimes barks so forcefully that it shoots a poop nugget out of her butt.  I’m not kidding.  We’ve seen it happen.  Today during lunch, a UPS guy dropped off a package and Abbey went crazy as usual.  I was finally enjoying a few bites of my food when I thought I smelled poop.  I looked behind me and Abbey was dragging her butt on the ground.  Apparently two poop nuggets strung together by – something (hair?) – had shot out from the attempted delivery man assault, but not all the way.  This was the capstone to my already “crappy” morning.  I shouted at her to get outside and then Clorox wiped the floor that had just been mopped an hour earlier.

And now, looking back, while God is giving me a respite while the kids nap, I am thankful for the peace and quiet.  And I am laughing at how ridiculous it is that my dog does that.  Right now I can pick up my Bible and spend some time reading.  But before I do that, I have to admit I’m a bit sad, disappointed in myself for my lack of self-control in the tough moments.  I wish I were more capable of handling every situation with poise.  I wish that every time I prayed for peace, joy, patience and restraint that I would have them.

When I feel like a bad mom for blowing up or losing it, I have to remember that God not only covers a multitude of sins, but in the words of Pastor Bob Coy, He covers a multitude of scruples.  I am so thankful for the grace He gives me, and the grace my kids do, too.  I am praying I can be as gracious to them this afternoon.

So Lord, please bless me in this short time I have.  I want to spend time with you and I want to take a nap.  But it’s already 1:47.  Please let them both sleep until at least 3 p.m.  But if not, help me to be okay with whenever I am back on duty.  And help me to have a better attitude this afternoon than I did this morning.  Amen.

I get by with a little help from my friends. And Greg.

This weekend was exactly what I predicted – magical.  But it almost didn’t happen.

Last week Eliza got what I thought were bug bites right along her diaper line.  They continued to get more red and actually enlarge, such that on Thursday, I started drenching them in Neosporin.  On Friday, the ointment didn’t seem to be doing much to help.  Also on Friday, I decided not to budge when Eliza didn’t want to eat what was in front of her.  So, when she didn’t finish her eggs for breakfast, I offered them – and only them – to her for her snack and lunch as well.  She refused to eat.  I told Greg we must not give in to her strong-arming antics.

On the way to the airport, and I mean, FIVE MINUTES from being dropped off for my weekend getaway, Eliza made a bit of a choking noise from the backseat, so I looked to see what was going on.  She had puked spinach and cheese omelet combined with milk all over herself and had tried to breathe in during the process.  It just kept coming.  When she was finished she whimpered, “Towel?  Towel?”  I grabbed napkins from the glovebox and tried to reassure her as she wiped herself off a bit.  And thus began the downward mental spiral.  “She has a stomach virus.  That’s why she hasn’t wanted to eat all day.  I’m a bad mother for forcing her to try to eat her eggs.  She must have been nauseated all day and I am the jerk who kept trying to make her eat.  How can I leave her at a time like this?”  We pulled up to the curb and Greg cleaned up the mess while I tried not to freak out, especially about missing my flight or leaving them in their predicament.  I knew Greg would have to come home and wash her car seat straps and cover.  Eliza felt hot.  She was going to have to ride home in a diaper.  And I just said, “Greg, can I go now?” in an annoyed voice.  I was afraid he would say, “You’re really going to leave like this?”  But instead, he just had me put Eliza in the car so she’d be safe and off I went with Zach, beginning to feel nauseated myself.

I spent the entire flight thinking I was coming down with whatever stomach virus Eliza had, making sure I had a barf bag at the ready.  I imagined Eliza yakking all over herself on the car ride home, and Greg trying to take care of her, and her crying out for me, the mom who had deserted her in her time of need.  How could this happen exactly when I was supposed to get a weekend off?  I sent Greg a text when I landed, and I didn’t receive a response.  I immediately assumed he was dealing with a hysterical child who was severely ill and could not be consoled.

We finally talked later on, and he told me Eliza hadn’t gotten sick again and was sleeping well.  He said her butt, though, looked awful and he was guessing it was a staph infection that was spreading rapidly.  My mind jumped to the worst.  I have a friend whose son has had a handful off staph infections in the past few months, and he has had multiple surgeries on them.  It has not been pleasant, to say the least.  In this moment, instead of being rational, I immediately got more concerned again, thinking she would need to be rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night and have emergency staph infection removal surgery.  Greg actually got annoyed that I was being so meddlesome because he was in control and was going to take her to the pediatrician in the morning.  I continued to wonder how I could be such a horrible mother, leaving them both at such a time.

Missy offered to drive me home, but I knew that was irrational.  I kept praying for God to protect Eliza and take care of her.  The next day, after getting seven straight hours of uninterrupted sleep, dropping Zach off to be babysat by a friend’s mom, and receiving a call from Greg confirming Eliza had impetigo but was being treated and in good spirits, I began my magical day.  I was finally, FINALLY, able to relax.

Why is it so easy as a mother to feel so guilty about leaving your children when you know you need the break?  Why did I immediately assume the worst when Eliza threw up?  Why does it seem so wrong to expect anyone other than myself to clean up barf, deal with sick kids who can’t sleep, or make doctor visits?  Why does it turn my insides out to imagine my sick child calling for me but for someone else to answer that call?

I needed that trip to remind me how to “let go and let God.”  I must remember, always, that taking a break doesn’t make me a bad mother and I can’t allow the guilt to creep in for needing “me-time.”  I can’t say nor believe bad things about myself because I am not perfect.  Because I have to tell you, this weekend was really awesome.  And Eliza’s impetigo is healing (praise God).  And this, too, shall pass.