Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.--Jeremiah 33:3
A Little Grace
There are days when I require a little more grace than the average person, or at least that’s how I think of it. Last week, I needed a truckload of extra grace. We’ve all heard of “self fulfilling prophecy” and “the power of the mind” used as advice for how we can overcome a negative emotion. As if we aren’t supposed to have a bad day. Let’s face it. Bad moods can’t always be fixed by the “power of the mind” and a simple decision to “get over it”. I’m an emotional person.
My mom always said that she knew exactly how I was feeling without having to say a word. I wear my emotions on my sleeves. While I appreciate that I can convey my mood without needing to speak, it’s also quite debilitating at times.
Monday and Tuesday were perfectly normal days, at least in the aspect of routine. Wednesday, after waking up to my “friendly visitor”, I immediately felt the shift in my mood. I became irritated when my son woke up crying because he’d wet the bed. Then I was irritated because he wet the bed. So, I did what any good mom would do, I gave him the lecture on getting up to use the potty while keeping my voice positive and singsongy, channeling my inner Cinderella. I washed him, dressed him, set him in the living room to watch PJ Masks, and quickly began the task of waking the twins. Generally speaking, they wake up happy. Harper loves to gibber jabber even before her bright blue eyes are open. Keeley is fussy, but snuggles deep into my shoulder, burying her arms between her and me. It’s so sweet. On this particular morning, realizing I had forgotten to lay out their clothes the evening before, I stood with a twin in each arm staring at their closet full of sleeveless and short sleeved dresses, rompers, and onesies, cursing the ridiculous mid-western weather. It was 29 degrees outside and the only appropriate clothes for them to wear were in the dirty laundry baskets spilling over into every room. I wanted to scream. And therein lies the problem.
I’m not rational when my “friend” visits. I have no control over my words, emotions, actions, or sanity. It’s as if a body snatcher takes over and I am an unwilling host, fighting to free myself of the crazy. Knowing I was about to lose my temper and wanting to grab all of the stupid clothes out of the closet and throw them across the room (see, not rational), I opted to piece together short sleeved onesies with pants and jackets. I skipped the socks. Gasp I know. But seriously, they have them pulled off before we get to the car, and then I put them back on, and by the time we reach the babysitter, they’ve disappeared into oblivion somewhere in the crevices of the car. Why bother? I placed a blankie over each of them, and started the tedious process of prying my toddler from the tv to put on his shoes and jacket. In the meantime, Harper pooped. Yep. Loud and proud. Cursing (out loud, which I try to avoid at all costs), I unbuckled her, pulled her out, yelled at Dawson to hurry up and get his shoes and coat on (he was still on the recliner pretending not to hear me), ran to the bedroom for a diaper and couldn’t find any wipes. Seriously...where do all the wipes go? I grab the diaper, run back in to the living room to look for wipes, and Dawson still hasn’t moved. Now I’m ticked. I yell at him, turn the tv off, he starts to cry and thinks better of it when he meets my eyes (I can only imagine what they looked like), and I proceeded to tear clothes off of Harper to get her diaper changed (found the wipes under the couch).
After getting Harper back in her car seat, it was time to load up. I grabbed Dawson’s hand and led him (okay, pulled him) to the door, opened it, and as we stepped out, the cat ran in. I screamed another few choice words and scared the cat into hiding. Hoisting Dawson into the car and over the second row into his car seat (superhuman strength accompanies my fits of rage), he remained quiet, smiling, and I recognized the “Mom is crazy and I need to try to remain in her good graces” look (I thank my mom for the “teacher look”). I immediately smiled back, reassuring him that none of my actions/words had anything to do with him. His carseat is a nightmare and needs to be adjusted so the straps will reach over his shoulders, but there is never any time for me to figure this out, so I twist, grab, squeeze, and finally get the stupid buckles all snapped in, and he reaches forward for a hug. Sigh Kids always know when mommy needs a hug. The girls were quickly loaded and we were off. I figured the cat would eventually extricate herself and leave a present somewhere that I wouldn’t find no matter how much I sniffed. Alas, when we got home, she was outside on the deck, apparently she ran out the door in my fit of anger and I didn’t even notice.
That evening my sisters in law came over to work on some t-shirts (Cricut projects and whatnot), bringing my niece and nephew along. While I am usually super excited to have them all over, I struggled to find the joy. My head was pounding, my body was aching, and I had used all of my energy to teach all day. Nevertheless, I reached deep inside and found enough joy to pull all five of the kids around the house on a blanket. You’d have thought they were at Six Flags. How can you be in a bad mood with so much cuteness? It was just what I needed, and I enjoyed watching them all giggle and play. I still didn’t feel well, but it’s kind of amazing how all of that melts away when they wrap their little arms around you and give you hugs and kisses. That night, Harper (the diva) woke up at 11 screaming. I opened my eyes and suddenly my body felt like it was on fire, and I was drenched in sweat. My husband brought her to me after I woke him, because I couldn’t get out of bed, and as soon as she latched on, fire erupted and searing pain coursed through my left side. Mastitis. My first experience and hopefully my last. For the next three days I ran hot, cold, and searing pain coursed through me. I applied hot compresses, used every essential oil I had read would help, applied tea bags, and took hot showers.
In hindsight, it seems that the impending infection attributed to my foul mood and unusually bad temper. At the time, I berated myself for losing my cool in front of my children, for not giving them the attention they needed, for making a big deal out of every little bump in the road, and for not being a good mom. Once the crisis had passed, I was able to see clearly how unreasonable I was and the impact it had on my kids. All day long I work hard to maintain a certain persona, ensuring that my students see the best version of me, and that they are given a safe, warm, and welcoming smile regardless of how I feel. At the end of the day, I come home and do the same for my own children. I snuggle when I really want to be cleaning the kitchen or starting dinner or working on the piles of laundry scattered throughout the house. I smile and tell my son it’s okay when he spills milk all over the counter and down his chair onto the floor because he’s trying to watch television while eating. I turn on the television instead of encouraging him to play (sometimes). And then, at some point in the evening, the straw holding me together breaks. Something ridiculously easy to handle is “too much” and I lose my temper. A flood of emotions escapes from somewhere deep inside and I yell, or I cry, or I simply scream. I know I’m not alone. I know that these moments are rare and that the good overshadows the bad. I know that God is always there and always shows me how to right the world again. And I know that there are plenty of oils that I need to be using every day to help me balance my emotional stresses.
Sometimes it isn’t enough to think positively. Sometimes we need some help. Sometimes we need to stop trying to fix it ourselves and let God bring the joy. Inevitably, I figure this out and the blessings are beyond measure. As I sat in the rocking chair, nursing one of the girls to sleep, I remembered a conversation from our small group about being thankful that we “get to” obey Christ. In that moment, I thanked God that I “get to” have mastitis. Suddenly I began to see that I wouldn’t have this pain and fever if I didn’t have two beautiful baby girls. I would deal with that kind of pain every day if I had to. I get to nurse babies. I get to watch my toddler struggle through fine motor skills and learning right from wrong. I get to show them grace and teach them patience (which I’m still learning daily myself). Who am I to complain about a temporary pain and a bad mood? I am blessed. There will be hard days when I want to cry and probably will. Despite my joy and blessings, I will still have moments when I feel alone and like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. Nevertheless, I will always spend my time in prayer thanking God for the struggles that lead to the blessings that all bring me joy. I hope I haven’t shocked you too much with my honesty, but we have made women feel like they have to be the “perfect mom” who can juggle a full time job, a household, and a positive attitude without complaining. If nothing else, I hope this post helps you feel like you’re not alone. Blessings to you momma’s and women with too much on their plates! Let’s strive to give each other grace.