There is nothing that can push you over the edge faster or easier than three toddler boys in the peak of terrible twos and threes. My stress level is fairly high right now due to the fact that we are moving in with our in-laws in a week in another state, downsizing everything from a 2,000 square foot house to two bedrooms totalling 400, and balancing the dynamics of leaving well from our current church community all before we move on to the next thing. Not to mention we are navigating a call to missions in France which not everyone is on board with or understands. Sigh.
My life has been much about packing boxes—when I can—calling the utility companies, getting in our last doctor’s appointments before our healthcare goes away, cleaning, sorting, selling, arguing with people on the internet over who said they wanted to buy something first—it’s like refereeing a virtual bar brawl. In all this though, I am still parenting my kids—sometimes an actual bar brawl—which is a difficult task on its own. As I have talked about many times before, there are many days that these boys do me in and I am sipping something strong well before the five-o'clock hour just to calm my nerves.
BUT NOW, with all the things that are going on, I am having trouble keeping my temper in check. The boys just seem to be destroying everything. I half pack a box and I turn my back, and the contents have been strewn all over the place and have possibly been broken in the process. It is a mess. EVERYWHERE. AND there is no hope of things being put back together again. I think they are trying to cope with the change the best way they know how, but that ‘way’ is pressing all the ‘momster’ buttons in me. The past few weeks, I have turned into this yelling, quick to anger, frustrated parent, all in the name of trying to get a few things, and I mean a very few things, done. This is not the mom I want to be. At all.
Yesterday, I decided to put all the moving things on hold. No checking my computer to see if things had sold, no trying to pack while the boys “watched TV”—the quotes are because they have lost interest in television and have taken to destroying things as I have mentioned above—no half-mom who is just going from thing to thing with my agenda and throwing food on the table to feed the little people who depend on me for sustenance just so I can do the things that are weighing on ME. I decided we needed to get out, do something fun together, so we went to the mall.
OK, not just the mall because that would be lame, but an adventure in the mall. (Disclaimer: it is really hot here and intolerable outside, thus the mall is a good air-conditioned setting for an adventure). I designed a mini-scavenger hunt for us with a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s as a finishing surprise for completing our quest. We didn’t buy anything, we just wandered around the mall together searching for hidden treasures, like live animals, the first letter of their names, and the wishing fountain. I made a conscious effort to engage them in our surroundings, to have fun with them, to be goofy, to see things through their eyes. I didn’t stress about how loud they were being or disruptive, because they needed the fun and I needed it too.
I had lost site of the mom that I want to be and the mom I usually am. They needed to see that I wasn’t just the bossy, crazy, lady who needed them to stay in place and not make a mess, but I was me. The mom who sings them lullabies, who tells them stories about dragons and kisses their wounds. The mom who cares that they are feeling the world shifting around them and that things feel unsettled. The mom who can be there for them and a constant in a time of great change. I found that ‘mom’ again and I am doing my best to tell the 'momster' to take a hike.
It is very cool how every time I learn something in my relationship with my kids, I see how amazing God is in His relationship with me. When things shift and change in my life, He is the constant. When I am acting out because I don’t understand what is going on, he is gentle with me and helps me through. All the things He is doing are for my good. He wants bring me to a place where I can dream with Him, but there are always hard times to walk through. I need to trust Him more, walk with Him closer, and obey. That is what I want my kids to do during this time and the least I can do is walk that way with my God.
Today, take a breath. If you feel that monster rearing it’s ugly head, stop. Pray. Think. BREATHE. Trust. Have fun with your kids, your friends, your spouse. Put aside the to-do’s for the sake of relationship. It IS the most important thing.