Have you seen that Jim Gaffigan skit where he's talking about one way to live your life? It goes like this:
Ya. It's sorta like that. When people see you at the store, they no longer say “Oh what a beautiful baby!” but rather they look at you with a flock of children and with sympathy/disgust they exclaim “Well, that's one way to live your life…“
Ya. It's sorta like that. We're still finding our groove as a family of six, and truth be told, when I was trying to get all four of the littles out the door yesterday, I briefly lost belief that a “groove” would ever actually come.
Juliette's poop somehow completely missed her diaper and instead found it's way up her onesie, onto her neck, and squished in between her fingers. Breaking the laws of physics around here…
The oldest one (who shall remain nameless) was having the attitude of… well, a little girl with a terrible attitude. Her brother was poking her. She didn't like the color of socks she was wearing. She wanted to eat a hard boiled egg before getting in the car because, by the way, I'm “starving her”.
The second oldest was pretending to be a T-rex and was thus bashing his head into all sorts of hard surfaces. Including his sister. And my legs. And the side of the house. He was also only speaking to me in “dinosaur language” so I'm not exactly sure if he was complaining about me too… What I do know is that when I asked him to put clothes on so we could go get in the car, it resulted in a tearful meltdown because “Dinosaurs don't wear clothes, Mama.”… but of course.
Approximately 68 minutes after starting, 3 of the 4 were buckled in. Diapers changed. Clothes on. Shoes. Sippy cups. Attitudes. Check.
… and by that time, the JuJuBean was hungry again… but of course.
Ya'll, if I couldn't laugh, I'd collapse into tears. And I have twice today. Not because it's bad or that I'd change any of it, but rather, because it's so good and so difficult and so wonderful and so taxing all at the same time. In a span of 2.8 seconds, I can be so elated with love that my heart just may burst and so angry I want to run for the hills with a bottle of wine. I can be so happy. And so sad. And so proud of my littles. And so challenged by them. The range of emotions is exhausting. And beautiful.
See? See what my brain is like? It's like a giant skillet of scrambled eggs up in here.
I certainly would never want my words to discourage any mother from ever considering having more children. It's not like that. Rather, it's like signing yourself up for a marathon.
10 miles in, you begin to question your decision. Who would make such a stupid decision? Why can't I be sitting on the sidelines, cheering these other mothers on, while sipping on a mint mojito and enjoying a clean house and structured work schedule? Are there bubble baths involved on the sidelines? Oh yes. Lots of quiet bubble baths. Dry bathroom floors. Sleep. Lots of sleep. The sidelines is where I want to be.
But right now, I'm in the race. I've got blisters on my heels. Sweat on my brow. Blood in my socks. My heart is racing. My lungs are on fire. My body is fatigued, my mind is failing, my spirit is weary. Mind you, I'm assuming this is what happens to people who run marathons because, let's-be-honest, this Mama ain't running anywhere (except for the hills with a bottle of wine, like previously noted).
The marathon brings pain.
But, as I'm reminding myself, the marathon ends. There is a finish line. Sure, in this world it might be death, but it's still a finish line. And would I prefer to finish having run this parenting marathon? Would I prefer to have left my heart in every painful footstep along the way – the good, the bad, and the ugly?
The hard days are what make the good days sweet. The mess is what makes the cleaning feel so refreshing. The overflowing sin is what makes forgiveness, and the good news of the Gospel, so joyous.
In fact, I'm only able to write you these words because I'm paying someone to play with my children while I sit in a local coffee shop with Stu (he's holding and rocking the baby). With barely a moment alone in my thoughts, it's easy to feel discouraged by the chaos of it all. Y'all… y'all… you should see my house. It was one of those “light a match and toss it over your shoulder on the way out” kind of days (okay, fine, weeks… months). And I write these words to encourage you in knowing you're not alone… but also to myself. Because I need to be reminded that it's so much bigger than dried applesauce on my dining room table, disobedient children, and stacks of neglected paperwork.
Yes, Shaye and world, hear these words: It's so much bigger!
We are in the marathon. These are the days of pure grit and horsepower.
We're farmgirls – remember? We're not the type to baulk at hard work and disappointment. Yes, we are going to feel things. Lots of things. Hard things. And really good things. But we're not going to let that break us and leave us in despair. We have a God that loves us and is working for our good, despite our bad attitudes. We have children that love us, despite our tempers. We have husbands that will happily eat omelettes for the 3rd night in a row because that's all we can muster. And we may not get to enjoy a bubble bath in solitude, but we get to enjoy one with our newborn babe curled up on our chest (even if the bathtub is dirty and full of legos).
Shaye, please don't loose sight of the beauty that comes with the pain. Get over your messy refrigerator, yard full of plastic toys, and mismatched socks. To everything there is a season.. and this is the season of the marathon.