Meeting people for the first time as a 34-year-old mom of three children five years old and younger, two of which are the same glorious age of three, and those two three year olds are boys, is just hard.
I liken parenting three-year-old boys to this scenario: two wobbly men on stilts holding two full bags of popcorn, slipping on a banana, sliding across the room, spilling popcorn all along the way, and landing in a pool of milky mud. Standing up and doing it all over again, all day. And that’s just what I look like trying to parent them.
Parenting right now is not pretty. It just isn’t. I have my eyes, mind, thoughts, words, movement and legs moving in separate directions at all times. There are no linear thoughts or conversations. There are no linear nights of sleep – as in where point A (fall asleep) moves directly to point B (wake up from a full night of sleep).
In fact, it goes from point A (falling asleep if I’m lucky) to detour #1 (one son crying out he can’t find his puppy) to detour #2 (one son crying out that he can’t find his brother. Who, incidentally, did look like he was missing, because his head was down at the footboard of the bed) to detour #3 (one darling daughter asking if I can help her change into her nightgown at 4am because she’s hot) to detour #4 (one son crying because he can’t find his puppy) and repeat until point B occurs (waking up).
These days are crazy.
But you know that. Any parent I talk to has some sort of story that reflects something to this effect. There is no coasting through any day. It’s a bunch of speed bumps that, though the automatic response is often pure frustration, demand some sort of helpful, teachable moment.
The phrase “teachable moment” is my arch nemesis right now, but that’s beside the point.
So moving to New Jersey now a little over a year ago, it’s been weird trying to figure out how to present myself as a person someone would want to be friends with. In Dallas, most people knew me pre-Chris, pre-Olive, pre-twins. There was some sort of secure foundation that they could at least recall as a time when I was sane.
Today, my friends (who are awesome) have met only a half-present, crazed and mostly out of sorts person. I have at times found myself complaining about my circumstances or publicly wishing that something about my scenario was different.
This has caused me to wonder, if I didn’t explicitly tell someone I am a Christian – how in the world would they know?
There is no exact biblical story that represents a mom who is maniacally chasing her three year olds on their scooters who keep going eerily close to the road where cars are zipping by. What did Jesus say about that mom?
There is no exact biblical story about a mom who plops her kids in front of the TV, feeds them popcorn and hides in the bathroom while she checks her phone. Is this Biblical? (joke!)
There is no exact biblical story about how a mom is supposed to respond when all the clothes she carried down three flights of stairs, washed, dried, folded and walked back up three flights of stairs to return to their exact space in the exact drawer are strewn all over the room mixed with peelings of paint the little loves of my life peeled off the wall in their closet.
There is no exact story about this mom. Right?
Is it possible to be a Christian in the midst of frustration and sheer lack of patience on a regular basis? Is it possible to represent to my friends – or better yet – to my own children that there is something far greater than the menial moments of every day, that for better or worse are quickly passing me by? Is it possible?
If I smile harder?
If I’m nicer to my kids?
If the house is picked up?
My bed made?
How will people know that I am a Christian? How do I know that I’m a Christian right now?
It’s nice and pretty to be a Christian when the kids are napping or in school. Am I right?
And for the most part, the answer to this is grace. Realizing there is no perfect person or mom or scenario. But there is a lot of grace and opportunities to speak truth into my kids at the end of the day – acknowledging when and how I could have managed a situation better.
Jesus didn’t respond specifically to the scooter situation, but he does reiterate the fact that we are to care more about what God thinks than what man thinks (so if I have to scream on the streets of Haddonfield and look like a crazy person, then so be it). We are to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger and most certainly, Jesus exemplified being a self-sacrificing person for the sake of His Father’s name to be made great.
This surely seems like something I can keep at the forefront of my mind.
Taking snapshots of every moment
I often take pictures of my children. Are you familiar with this concept? (joke!)
But I love taking pictures of the real side of life. Purely for my own pleasure. I really do love taking sweet pictures of my kids, but I know in my heart, there’s a lot of passion and heart among the five of us who live in this house, and I like to capture that.
And the truth is, is that at the end of every day, I know that no matter how I “performed” Jesus is not sitting on the side of my bed critiquing me. I know that I’m not get graded by a plethora of angels in the sky. I’m not looked down upon by the One who came to save me.
Just like I’m not mad at my kids or hold it against them for any shenanigans they pulled throughout the day, I know I go to bed every night (if only asleep for a moment) forgiven.
Luke 6:32-36 concludes with, Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Be merciful to others.
Be merciful to your children.
Be merciful to your own self.
For the Creator of heaven and earth, is merciful to you.
I like this uncropped, unfiltered picture of us. This is how I prefer our life be lived. Because at the end of the day, it’s in our weakness that God’s strength is made known. And it’s in our imperfections that we need to be transformed.
To the mom who is weary, tired, or just plain grumpy. Chin up. Every wild moment is an opportunity to grow in the Lord. Don’t just toss it up to total loss or a waste of time. Lean on His word and not on your own understanding.
Be merciful to those around you – and especially to yourself.