Mess up fess up

A mess takes only moments to make

I’m a bad mom.  As I usually have to make dinner while I have the kids around, I generally put on a TV show to keep them occupied.  (No, this isn’t the bad mom part.)  Last night they were giggling a lot, and I was distracted because I was making a new recipe, so I didn’t check on them.  That was a big mistake.  Exhibit A shows the damage they did, in a few minutes of I’m sure what they thought was good, clean fun.  That pile, before dinner, was folded laundry.

I lost it.  If you have an infant, you lose it when your baby wakes you for the third time in three hours, screaming, and you have no idea why.  And you shout in your head, “Shut the BLEEP up,” while wishing you could put her outside to sleep, just for a few hours so you could think straight again.  Of course, instead, you probably pick up your baby in your stupor and rock her as your anger needle drops, because rationalization overcomes your frustration.  (She is, after all, a defenseless baby.)

But when your kids are a little older, and they have brains that work, and you’ve told them before not to play with folded laundry, the anger that wells up from direct disobedience in a fleeting moment can overwhelm you.  I would go so far as to say I can have an out-of-body experience.  This isn’t a defenseless child; this is someone who made a conscious decision to combat you, just because it was fun, or just to see what you would do in return.  It is an ex-haus-ting, often daily, battle.

But (always afterwards) I realize that’s not a good reason to lose it.  I yelled about how I’d asked her not to do that before, and how that meant I would have to re-fold it, and how I don’t have time to do that, and it’s inconsiderate and mean to do such a thing to your poor mother.  And what that means is that all last night and all this morning, Eliza kept saying, “Mommy, you’re not happy with me.  You yelled at me.  I’m sorry” in a way that indicates the hurt I put on her was far worse than the frustration of re-folding laundry.  I forgot about re-folding the laundry by this morning.  Eliza, however, couldn’t forget hurting me in such a way that caused me to react like that.

I hope that next time I can look at the laundry pile and laugh, because my kids had a blast making the mess.  After all, it’s laundry.  I should be thankful we have clothes to wear, and a working washer and dryer to clean them, not to mention my floor was mopped earlier in the day, so the clothes were still clean.  Next time, I hope I can bring myself to say, “Oh gosh, that’s going to take some time to clean up.  Can you help me, because it’s okay to make a mess as long as you clean it up,” which would turn the situation into a teaching moment.

I hope next time I can react in such a way that doesn’t make me feel like a bad mom.  I’m not going to beat myself up over it anymore, because one thing my kids are already teaching me is that their grace, like God’s, is new each day.  And that reminds me that I might have bad moments, but I’m a good mom.

Parenting lesson #9: When it rains, it pours, so make sure you have a good umbrella

Blue skies are ahead if you keep looking up!

Sometimes things just stink.  Sometimes you throw your hands up in the air and ask in a very sarcastic voice, “Really, God?  Is there anything else you want to throw my way right now?”  And sometimes, the answer to that is, “Yes,” and then things stink harder.

You might recall from my last post that two weeks ago we all had sinus infections and began antibiotics.  This has been a house of illness since then.  I’ve had what we’ll call “stomach” issues for two weeks.  Zach came down with the chicken pox on Saturday.  (It’s a long story.)  The urgent care doctor also said he has mild pneumonia.  He has to stay in the house for a week.  I came down with an ear infection Sunday.  Something is “off” about Eliza, where she doesn’t want to go to school and is super clingy.  She busted her upper lip Sunday and had to go to the dentist.  Last week our fridge broke.  Last night the dishwasher did.  Greg is moving into an office amid all of this.  I think I’m forgetting something.

People say “When it rains, it pours,” and sometimes that is the case, like with the past several days for us.  But it’s when we are at our weakest and most needy that God provides a big umbrella.

We have been covered with offers for help.  One friend lent me numbing ear drops so I could sleep Sunday night before being able to see a doctor on Monday.  Two friends – one who has three of her own kids – offered to take Eliza off my hands, and so I was able to get her out of the house for three glorious hours yesterday.  Two friends offered to bring us dinner.  One of them – another friend with three kids – made us a fantastic meal Monday night that saved the day.  My next door neighbor picked up milk for me and I ordered the rest of my groceries online through Peapod.

There was a time when I thought reaching out to others for help would somehow reflect weakness on my part.  But since having kids, I’ve realized it’s impossible to live life without community.  And in our recent time of need, my friends and neighbors have really covered us and blessed us.

It’s only Wednesday and I already find that we’re coming out the other end of this.   And that’s how it is with life’s ebbs and flows and calms and storms.  The current stench is lifting and I smell a brighter day – one when I can help others in the same way they have helped me, because when your life is full of sunshine, you should have an umbrella to spare.

They really do grow up so fast

Just today, we went to two birthday parties, and it really dawned on me how quickly time flies with little kids.  We celebrated the first, second and third birthdays of three friends, and it just didn’t seem possible.  It’s like, one day they’re learning to walk and the next they’re telling you to shut up.  Or one day you are rubbing baby lotion all over your little girl’s bottom and the next she’s putting on makeup.

In Eliza’s case, she’s actually already doing that.  This morning we were heading out the door, and I asked her if she was ready to go.  She said, “No, I need lipstick.”  Then she reached into my purse, grabbed my Chapstick, pulled off the lid, applied it liberally on her lips and the general area around them, and then put the lid back on and put it back in my purse.  She also told me as I tried to simultaneously strap her into her car seat and get her to give me her party favor bag, “I’m busy.”

It’s one of those days where I’ve been struck hard by the idea of just how long some days can seem minute-by-minute, but how the months and years fly by.  I also went shopping today to get the kids some much-needed warmer clothing that fits, and I couldn’t believe how little baby clothes were – and especially that my children don’t fit in any of those clothes now.  I had to find the 2Ts and the 12-month stuff.

I’m not sure that I really have a point except to say that as tough as any difficult moment may seem, each breath is truly a gift to cherish.  It’s so awesome to watch these two little ones grow up.  I want to make sure I focus on that at least once every day.  Because the next kid’s birthday I’ll be celebrating will be Zach’s – and it is impossible to believe that he will be one next month.

Revel in the little moments before they’re gone

How we wake up in the mornings often has a ripple effect on the rest of our days.  When I am woken up by my “alarm clock” (which is either Zach crying or Eliza shouting “Mommy COME!”), I’m often resentful that I don’t get to decide for myself when I’m done sleeping.

I have decided to start praying a short yet ample prayer as I hurl off the sheets and walk (or stomp) into the room from where the noise emanates.  It goes as follows: “Lord, help me to love my kids today the way you want me to love them.”  If I mean it, it changes my whole outlook.

A few mornings ago I fetched Eliza and Zach and brought them, I’ll admit a bit begrudgingly, into our room as usual.  As Eliza had boundless energy and all I wanted to do was lie there a little longer, I proposed we play her new favorite game.  I said, “Eliza, why don’t we play hide and seek?  You go hide.”  I heard her little feet lead her into her room where she ALWAYS hides between her crib and the wall, and as I started counting, we heard her count along, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven eight, nine, ten.  OKAY, COME FIND ME!!!”  I looked at Greg and we both giggled about how she doesn’t quite have the rules of the game down.  And I knew in that moment that some day I would miss it.  There are so many of these moments every day that God gives us, and they are little jewels.

It’s like sifting for gold.  On family vacations growing up, we took a lot of road trip stops to sift.  You get your little bucket of dirt and you carefully sieve it through the running water, bit by bit.  You have to go through a whole lot of mud and muck to find the specks of gold.  But boy is it rewarding when you get the good stuff.  And the sifting itself is part of the joy.

Chuck Swindoll has said, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”  I think he’s onto something.  So tomorrow morning, I’m not sure which one of them will wake me up, but I’m going to pray my new prayer, and be abundantly thankful for the blessing of them.  I’ll admit it will be easier if neither of them wakes me between now and then.  (Old habits do die hard.)