It turns out that one crazy week really became a near month of crazy in our house. Fire ants, a wasp sting, a couple teeth popping through, some blow out diapers, epic tantrums and some episodic vomiting culminated into an all-out hunger strike this past week that nearly landed us in the hospital for hydration. To top it all off, my son said his first curse word. [You can judge, but it was a multi-word phrase used in proper context with expression so I am going to file it away as impressive and watch my own vocabulary from here on out.]
I will admit that the toddler has not been the only one throwing a tantrum or two lately. I am sure that I have snapped a few times recently. Not many people know this, but I am the reason they coined the term “hangry.” When hangry meets tired meets “that time of the month” the atmosphere changes around our home. Dark clouds gather as an eerie silence strengthens the level of tension. You know, like those moments in a suspenseful movie where you know something is about to jump out at you so you mute the TV as though that is going to help you not pee yourself a little? Anyone? Anyways, this is the scene my husband would describe if he thought I would not kill him for it, but he is much too smart for that.
I hit a new low though this morning. The impromptu nursing session from 1-1:30am was greeted with a little grace because my naïve momma heart believed I would at least get to sleep in until around 8am. I must have let my guard down as I walked into his nursery. As though he sensed my excitement over an extra three hours of sleep (yes, you read that right), he made sure we did not waste a perfectly decent Saturday morning sleeping. 4:40am came with one bright eyed, bushy tailed, and hangry offspring.
That is right. Four freaking forty in the morning.
Somewhere around 7am, after his second breakfast and right before I put his little butt down for a “nap”, I lost it right along with him. He was making that whining/crying/screaming noise, mildly resembling a wounded goat, while pulling back and forth at the baby gate (poor guy did not realize the presence of that gate was largely contributing to his survival in that moment); his ears deaf to words like “No”, “Stop”, and “Hush”. The smart aleck that resides in my brain decided to pop in with a poorly timed “He is so your son” right before I blew.
Samuel Grey! There are other people in this home! You are NOT the only person in this home with NEEDS, son! CUT IT OUT NOW!
A nanosecond of stunned silence was quickly filled with a louder goat-met-a-beagle-and-had-a-baby noise. I turned to him, a minefield of blueberries and half eaten bites of pancake that had been thrown like confetti at second breakfast and a baby gate between us, and beheld my little monster. Curly blond hair askew, blue eyes puffy and filled with crocodile tears, belly poking out from behind his stained monkey pajama top, and tiny fingers curled tightly around the rails of the baby gate. I think this is the part where all of my frustration was supposed to dissipate, but it did not…that happened after a nap and another snack. This is the part where his sheer adorableness kept the dreaded “monster mom” at bay…saved by monkey pajamas and chubby cheeks.
Motherhood is ruining me in the most frustrating, sanctifying and beautiful of ways. I want to meet my toddler in moments like this morning and dig my heels in because I am tired, I am hungry, and I no longer have the luxury of peeing in private anymore. Rather than modeling healthy self-care, communicating boundaries, and acting in selfless love, I join him right on that low road of emotive explosion and prideful persistence.
I confess this in an altogether TMI post because it is far too easy for me to compare my own behind the scenes bloopers to the highlight reels of other mothers. In moments like this morning, when I have shown off all of my ugly bits, it is easy to be swept away in a current of shame and believe lies about who I am as a human, woman, wife and mother. Perhaps I am not alone. I do not write this to say we should glory in our tantrums, but I do believe moments like this morning can serve us as we try to raise our kiddos after God’s heart.
Sam needs to know that it is okay to have behind the scenes moments. He needs to see the genuine nature of what it means to follow Christ, ugly bits included. He needs to see why we need the Gospel and how the Gospel is changing us and the ways we interact in our relationships. He needs to hear from a mommy well-acquainted with an authentic apology so that he will be equipped when the time comes for him to extend one. He needs to learn how to live in community, serve the needs of others in all humility and joy, all while maintaining healthy boundaries that promote altruistic love and compassion.
Our children do not need a perfect mother. Our spouses, friends, families and communities do not need us to be perfect; they need to see the presence of Jesus in the midst of our imperfection.