Last week Jason and I had a dear sister from church over at our home. We talked for a while and then we had prayer together, asking God to intervene in a grave situation in this sister’s life. There we were, all three of us hunkered down on the leather couch, begging God for help as best as we could.
Yep. All three adults. Which means that there were exactly NO ADULTS present, truly, to supervise my children.
I am the proud mother of four beautiful, crazy kids. They are all under the age of 8. At one time I had 3 in diapers. That’s like triplets, but more frustrating: if you do the quick math you will soon realize that at least one of the kids should probably have been potty trained by then. People are always so kind to bring that sort of thing to your attention, too. And inevitably some sweet person at the grocery store will ask you if they are all triplets, even though one is a newborn and the other one can read (true story). But I digress.
I don’t know if they are more inventive or wild than any other group of kids that age. But they seem to be to me. It feels as though I am always in discipline mode. You know that part of the Bible where it talks of Saul (in his pre-Paul days) “breathing out threatenings and slaughter” against the early church? I feel like I do that some Sundays, when I debrief the troops after a particularly active session in the pew. I can be pretty militant in the pew, expecting my charges to sit at attention without complaint or movement, or potty breaks or snacks, and limited eye blinks, in a Missionary Baptist church service. I just do.
If it were possible, I would patent my Snap of Death----which is a loud, cracking snap of my fingers. I have to snap my fingers because I usually can’t remember the name of the child I am snapping at. They think it is just because I can’t shout their name in church-----oh nononono. Like so many moms before me, I have been driven to the very edge of my sanity and can no longer speak readily the name of the child I am addressing at the moment. The Snap of Death seems to resonate with children everywhere. Most all of them in our small congregation turn to look at what is about to happen next when they hear it. I have even seen the adults shiver.
You see, I have first-born syndrome. FBS can typically be characterized as “not seeing the forest, because the bark of this one tree here is starting to peel off and it needs to be addressed YESTERDAY”. To say that people with FBS expect perfection in the most unlikely of places is a complete understatement. And not only do I have FBS----but I MARRIED someone with FBS. So where I could be permissive, say, in letting the kids wear shorts to business meeting----my FBS hubby picks up the slack. And vice-versa.
So on this particular evening I learned a lesson. I don’t know how much it will help me to loosen up in the long-term, because I still have an “inner child” with FBS. But I suppose every little bit helps.
We are in earnest prayer on the couch, and I vaguely begin to notice someone touching my forehead. It is sort of like that frog in the boiling pot analogy. Gradually I become more and more aware of something on the left corner of my forehead. I am really, really praying now, so don’t be taken aback by my lack of awareness.
THEN I feel a towel, brushing ever so gently (NOT) against this same forehead locale, much like 100 grit sand paper. And I begin to smell minty-freshness. Kind of like. . . .
With a holding capacity that would make Rave Number 4 jealous, I reach up and examine the amazing powers of toothpaste on my hair. And then I get tickled. Because what else can I do?
Do I jump off the couch and scream at my kids, after giving them the Snap of Death in my flustered state? I don’t even know who DID it! Did they truly think that I would not notice that the whitening power of Crest Pro Health left me looking like Bonnie Raitt?
And better still----do they see me pouring my heart out to the Lord, and in a moment of startling hypocrisy lash out at them for a mistake?
Why is it so hard for me to show mercy to my kids? I sometimes feel like the servant who was forgiven much, but couldn’t forgive in little. Not to mention that the Lord can’t fellowship with you when you have anger in your heart. Even if that anger is about one of your kids!
Just as I am over the giggles that were brought on by the visual of me hugging said sister post-prayer, and she smelling my minty self and seeing the terrific height of my bangs, my sweet, delicate daughter climbs on me, lays on my back and lets off a vile noise that is usually reserved for patrons of Mexican restaurants.
And that about put me clear over the edge of silliness.
Because EVERYONE heard it. Maybe even the neighbors. Hardwood floors, echo, reverberation. “Goodness gracious, Harriet! Batten down the hatches!!”
Um. . . .prayer was over for me. What a perfect metaphor for my life in crazy motherhood!
He doesn’t expect my kids to be in line all the time. My main job is to please Him. If I would just concentrate more on that, I would have more joy, peace---and yes, longsuffering for my kiddos. And they would see their mama and daddy loving a sister in Christ, and confessing through their actions that even though they don’t have all the answers, that even their big, strong, mama and daddy KNOWS that they can go to Jesus for help. I thought my dad was the strongest, toughest, smartest, biggest, and most invincible man in the whole universe. I bet you thought the same about your dad.
For kids to see that big tough daddy (or mama) cry out to God SPEAKS VOLUMES to a little child.
Lord, please help me to concentrate on You. To not forsake prayer and study for laundry and diapers, but to realize that getting in touch with you daily is more important than the air I breathe.
Love to all my fellow Christian mamas today!