I posted about “the mess that is me” on Thursday morning and then had a horrifically messy mothering day. Okay, maybe “horrific” is too strong, but by the afternoon I was whining like a petulant child. “God, why on earth did you give me four children when I have no real nurturing skills? Not only am I going crazy, but I’ve got to be damaging them! I fuss at them for using snotty tones with each other, but they’re only copying mine. And then I get frustrated and yell! They’re going to be scarred for life.”
Guilt to frustration, frustration to guilt—back and forth the pendulum swung.
Dave came home near the end of my apologizing to Jake. Jake gave me one of his incredibly grace-filled hugs and left and Dave asked, “What’s up?”
I explained: argument between children; I’d intervened; was fussing at PJ for breaking his promise—again—to his brother and sister; then Jake interrupted, twice; and I yelled at Jake. My conclusion: “I’m an awful mom!”
To which my husband said, “Hon, kids are resilient and God is good. They’re fine—and you need some time alone. I’ll leave ahead of you (
Judy and Kelly, our international daughters, have been home with their parents for almost a week now. Em made these brownies for them just before they left. Love you, girls!
end-of-season soccer party for the high school team Dave coaches) and I’ll take some of the kids with me.”
We had this conversation in the basement bathroom, where I was getting ready. For about five minutes after, there were the usual back-and-forth sounds on the floor above me. Then, suddenly, nothing! None of PJ’s running/stalking footsteps (how can a kid who only weighs 45 pounds make so much noise just walking?), no music blasting, no singing, no talking. Dave had taken all four kids plus the extra friend with him!
Silence. I breathed deep and gave thanks and took my time getting to the party.
When I arrived, I hung out with several soccer mothers and decided to be honest when asked, “How was your day?”
Several gave honest answers in return and real conversation rather than small talk happened. Women a few years further along in their mothering journey shared real advice and they did NOT tell me to “treasure these years—they pass so fast.” (Not that it isn’t true—it’s often just not real helpful in the middle of it.)
At the end of the evening, I left refreshed—and more grateful.
After the kids were in bed, I checked email and found a link to a blog post by Donald Miller in my inbox: “How to Avoid a People Hangover” (here’s the link: http://storylineblog.com/2013/06/04/how-to-avoid-a-people-hangover/), an article about how he, as an introvert, has to have his alone time. I read it to Dave. “This is me!” I said.
He gave me the look. “Haven’t I been telling you that for years?”
“Yes, but I’ve always felt guilty for needing alone time, but when I hear it from someone who also needs it—who feels drained creatively when he doesn’t get it—it’s like permission.”
He gave the look again.
I fully believe that motherhood is a calling from God.
But it’s GOD’s calling. By that I mean that HE is ultimately responsible for it, and though he’s called me to be one of the two primary caregivers for these four, He doesn’t expect me to never take a break.
In fact, He made me to need alone time.
Donald Miller affirms that he needs time away from people. I call kids “people on steroids.” At 9, 9, and 7 (and sometimes even at almost 13), they don’t understand boundaries; the bathroom is still not off limits; when they call “Mo-om,” I’m magically supposed to answer, no matter what.
That’s all good, wonderfully good.
But so is the fact that I’m an introvert who feels re-charged with alone time.
And God knows all that.
How good, how incredibly good He was to me on this quite-messy past Thursday. He knew what I needed and He provided it.
And in my being able to receive, I learned more about how generous He is, right in the middle of my messiness.