I miss my kids. I miss the poopy diapers (though the smells my child emits could blow socks off an octopus), I miss wiping jelly off my four-year-old daughter’s fingernail and off my two-year-old son’s nose and off my five-year-old son’s…well, my five-year-old son. I miss squirting soap in the bathtub as the water’s running (the bubbles will clean them right?) and drying the little warm bodies off after they’ve “cleaned up.” I miss the wrestling on the floor, the pretend chasing, the picking up after a fall, the serving up dish after dish after dish of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s only been a week but I miss it!
Now, what I haven’t said about all those “oh so precious” moments is that the changing of diapers always involves some comment about how we’ve got to learn to use the potty; the wiping off of jelly involves sighs of frustration directed particularly at my five year old who manages to get jam in places the sun don’t shine. Bath time with these three small beings regularly involves constant reminders that water needs to stay in the tub and the washcloth is not for eating and the ducky belongs to everyone and “it’s just water, it’s not going to make you go blind.” The wrestling on the floor is one-sided: a kid-orchestrated sneak attack on mom from behind…I’ll let you imagine the rest of that scenario. The pretend chasing is just that: mom too worn out to actually chase and so I pat my knee in a running rhythm to try and fool them – it doesn’t last long. They’re smart enough to figure out when I’m fooling them but not smart enough to remember to close their eyes when I’m rinsing their hair. The picking up after a fall ALWAYS has an “I told you that if you were going to do this, someone was going to get hurt” after…or before…or instead of the kiss. And the serving up of dish after dish ends in mom finally getting her dish filled and given just enough time to connect rump to roost before “Mommy! I need more water!” hits her like a two-by-four to the side of the skull. Then, *exasperated sigh* “[child’s name], could you not have made this request ten seconds ago when Mommy was just in the kitchen?”
It’s the sunshine Facebook version above and the real-life trenches of motherhood below. Now, I might fudge a bit to the world what raising my kids looks like but I certainly don’t deceive myself. I know it’s exhausting, I know it’s frustrating, and I know that I miss the mark a thousand times in a day as far as responding to my kids the way I want to. Good grief, I even know that while I am constantly tempted to blame my mommy discouragement on my kids’ behavior, if I was really honest with myself, I would admit that I am more disappointed with my own behavior than theirs. It’s hard and if you’re an overanalyzing, concerned-with-doing-it-right parent like I am then it’s really hard. But despite all that, despite my crystal clear awareness that motherhood is tougher than flossing with a machete, I really do miss it.
I’ve had this surgery before. I blew out my right ACL when I was fourteen playing soccer. Rehab was difficult; I remember lots of pain. But when I think about this part of the rehab – the sitting in bed hooked up to both a cold therapy unit and a “bendy thingy” (a machine that constantly bends and straightens your knee, I still don’t know what it’s called so I stick to my fourteen-year old description) – it wasn’t so bad. I had friends in and out to visit, a TV with the original Nintendo five feet in front of my face, books galore (I preferred those to the video games), and a mom who did my laundry, cooked my meals, and drove me here and there because she was my mom and I was fourteen and that’s what she did even when I wasn’t recovering from surgery.
This time around, however, it’s been agony to sit around and let other people take care of me and my kids. It’s only been a week and I think I’ve cried out of helpless frustration every day. Okay, before I go further, please hear me out. I am not, oh gosh no, not trying to convince you that I deserve pity. My life is not hard, my circumstance is hard only when I let it be, and this phase will be over in a blink of an eye…though right now that eyelid is traveling slower than a snail over super glue. My point in all of this is to publicly declare, before the two witnesses that read this, that I love being a mom and I love caring for my children.
Now for the bottom-bottom line, as a dedication to all you moms who are too busy to sit and watch your children from a distance, keep your heads up. Don’t get so overwhelmed in the minute-by-minute, snot wipe-by-snot wipe, shoelace-by-shoelace moments that you forget what an incredible blessing those small people are in your life. It is a precious and terribly, terribly fleeting time that we will have the untainted audience of our children. May we be faithful to impart on their hearts the amazing message that their Creator loves them and wants them to find the fullness of life in His family. And lest this seems too heavy a task for such an impatient, or frustrated, or short-tempered mother as you (and most definitely me) remember that we are not trying to be perfect to or for our kids, we are merely trying to be avenues to the Perfect One. We should not be pointing at ourselves and saying “be like me,” we should be pointing at Christ and saying “be like Him.”
Indeed, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?” A slight modification serves as a gentle reminder to my distracted, miss-the-forest-for-the-trees mind, “What good has a mom done her kids if they [become a doctor, win soccer championships, own an iPad, live in a Target-designed bedroom, play a musical instrument, eat organic, wear the cutest outfit] but lose their soul?” Heaven forbid we get so caught up in the jelly stains on their t-shirt that we forget about, or worse, ignore the sin-stained heart underneath.