I am cleaning up the table after feeding one baby and five toddlers their afternoon snack. The table is clean, the dishes are in the dishwasher, the floor is swept, the ingredients for supper are set out. After a day of non-stop snot and poop, I am feeling great, and like I might actually stay for the entire school council meeting tonight. I’ve committed to working overtime already, which will cut into the meeting’s start time, making this feel like a 16-hour work day. But I’m not worried, because I’ve got this whole mother/working full-time thing under control. Wake up at 4:50 to shower and dress. Throw in a load of laundry at 5:20. At 5:30, grab a bottle of water and hop on the exercise bike to get in 20 minutes of cardio, while doing my prayer and bible reading for the day. 10 minutes of pilates, and then upstairs to start the coffee. Unlock the door, turn on the lights and tidy the toys for the start of the daycare day at 6:00. Make 3 lunches and breakfast for 6 to 9 children/grown-ups, and try to remember to eat something healthy myself. Prep the day’s lesson plan while greeting several families who show up anytime between 6 and 7:30, cleaning up dirty dishes, changing dirty diapers, nagging my own children to get ready for school, etc., etc. At 8, potty and change the diapers of 4 or 5 children. Hustle 3 kids out the door at 8:20 for the bus. Breath and pee (not necessarily in that order). 9:00 is potty and diapers again, while greeting a few more families if they haven’t already showed up. So begins our daycare day.
And it really feels like I’ve got it under control. Oh, there are moments here and there when I start to grit my teeth, or get frustrated with a slow-moving toddler, but for the most part, I’ve got it under control.
But every once in awhile there’s a little voice that reminds me that the whole control illusion just ain’t true.
Back at afternoon snack, I happen to catch a glimpse of one of the dad’s coming to pick up early. “You guys, go see who’s here!” I say to the kids. Dad comes in and greets his little man, then says “You’ve got to talk to my wife.”
“Oh?” I laugh, thinking he’s joking around. “What about?”
“She’s having a really tough go of it with this new baby. She can’t seem to juggle a toddler and a baby at once. You’ve got it down pat. Maybe you could say something to her.”
Knowing this particular dad is not given to flattery, I sympathize, verbally reminiscing about how tough it was when my boys were little, and reminding him that I’ve had 10 years to figure out my system. I say good night, but since my love language is “words of affirmation”, what he said bounces around in my mind for the next 30 minutes or so. “Yes”, I start to agree with him “I am good at this, and I did seem to do a good job with the boys. Sure, it was tough, but I made it through. Maybe I really could be a help to her.”
And that voice that I know so well says “So, if she asked you how you did it, what would you tell her?”
“Well, definitely a good routine, making sure I rested during nap time, getting out of the house, getting up early to prepare for the day …”
“So, what exactly did getting up early involve?”
“Showering, getting dressed … ” (and this is where the memory of it all hits me) “… and getting down on my knees every morning to beg You for patience, energy, sanity, and wisdom to make it through the day.”
“Would you be willing to tell her that?”
“Well now I have to, don’t I?”
These internal conversations with God are what get me through every minute of every day. And I’d like to share them. Over my decade of motherhood, I’ve written down moments I didn’t want to forget, moments when the bigger picture was evident and clear in the small minutia of the routine and mundane. I hope they inspire you to record your own Moments of Clarity, in the journey of Motherhood.