Worst Momma Day Ever

Let me start off by saying I am not comparing myself to those moms that abuse, abandon, or neglect their children. I mean the rest of us. Those that love our kids so much it hurts. They bring us sunshine, fulfillment, and purpose. We find it hard not to bring them up in every conversation. We’re sure our child is the most clever, athletic, charming, beautiful child that ever lived. We put our own needs aside to serve, discipline, and nurture our children. I am that kind of mother.

And yet, today I failed: myself and my child.

I have some excuses. You may even sympathize. I had already folded so many loads of laundry I’d lost count except that I knew there were at least a dozen dryer sheets left to be gathered off the living room floor. I was standing in the bathroom mopping up a puddle of urine left by a four-year-old that likes to wait until the last possible second to run to the bathroom, and then some. My one-year-old was screeching and scratching my ankles because he was overtired and hurting from the two teeth pushing through his gums. I’d spent the day redirecting, supervising time-out, spanking, and clinging to the patience that seemed determined to slip through my grasp. I could feel the mounting stress of a to-do list that never ends, and no sign of rest on the horizon. A few immature and rude comments from my mostly wonderful husband put me over the edge.

I’d had it. I was sweaty, smelly like the dust and dirt and grease I’d scrubbed from chairs and cabinets and floors, and as exhausted as the baby rubbing his eyes and pulling his hair now hanging off my hip.

Wearily, I announced “I AM LEAVING. I need a break.”

From the other room I could hear the husband ask (what seemed antagonistically to my overtired brain) “Ha. When do you plan to get back to all this?”

So I grumbled, “how about never,” grabbed my purse, and walked outside. I got as far as the stairs out front, and sat down dreaming of a quiet hotel room that I didn’t clean, a nice meal at a restaurant that I didn’t cook, and maybe a novel: one that didn’t pop-up, sing songs, or come with colorful pictures.

What I didn’t know was my sweet tender-hearted four-year-old had heard me grumble. She was sitting in the window with the weight of the world on her shoulders watching to see if I would come back inside.

Taking just enough time to gather my sanity, maybe four minutes, I slipped back inside mentally re-prioritizing my to-do list. I’d just decided the baby needed me most when my four-year-old came around the corner weeping. When I asked her to sit down and tell me what was wrong, she could barely choke out the words “you said you were never coming back. I prayed Jesus would send you home. I am so sad. My heart is slipping away.”

Sigh. Worst Momma Day Ever. It doesn’t get much worse than shaking the foundation of trust and security in your little one.

I pulled her on my lap, and told her how sorry I was. Cuddling, we had a long talk about sin and mommy learning to control her mouth. (Ouch.) The baby crawled over and fell fitfully asleep on my lap. We just sat in the hallway, and set to right our seemingly out-of-control world piece by piece, prayer by prayer.

I couldn’t bear to let her out of my sight the rest of the day, and I have a feeling she felt the same way. When I put her to bed tonight, I had to sit in the hallway and talk to God. I feel this deep hurt wondering if this will be one of the memories that will stick out in her mind instead of all the fun and normalcy of our daily lives.

I am still trying to wrap my mind around the enormity of being a mama. I can tell I am going to need a lot more grace both in giving out and for myself. I can’t promise to stop caring about a messy house and the frustrating repetitive tasks of mothering little people; but I do intend to take a break before my self-control snaps under the weight of chores. Next time I will bite my tongue off before I use it as a weapon of sarcasm and stress. I will sit down and make sure my kids, friends, and husband know that I am human and I too have limits and needs. I will rest.

"Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved." (Psalm 127:1-2)

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength." (Isaiah 30:15)


gardeningmom said...

I love you so much. You have not failed, but succumbed to the human condition. Your little one will long remember the day she prayed for Jesus to bring you back home, and you came. She will remember sitting in the hallway talking and praying and know that with God all things are possible. I have been at that point more than once, and was not graceful more than once. Thank you for your openness and your loving heart and sweet spirit. May this be a call to arms for those of us reading this to remember to do battle on your behalf. You have the toughest job in the world and the most important. I know you handle it with care. Your family is truly blessed to have you, as well as I am to have you as a friend. Love you and ReJoyce. Missing you.

JnA said...

This was so touching. Everyone has moments like these. If anything, your daughter will remember how you sacrificed a day of peace and quiet for yourself, to come back and be with her.
The sacrifices we make as mothers for our children are the things that they will remember, the things that make them realize how important they are to us.
I know that's exactly how I feel about my own mother, and I'm sure that's how your children will see you.