Yesterday was my first day back to full time work since our son came home. Nothing was different for him as he has been doing part time daycare for a couple weeks but for me it was glaringly different. Gone are the half days at work and extra time at home to tackle the larger piles of dishes and laundry, the endless string of of toys running through my house, and all the things that come with managing a household of now three.
Suddenly I felt like I needed to do all of the things. The laundry and dishes were staring at me. I’m pretty sure I heard them tell me that if I didn’t get them taken care of right now, they would never be done. So I got up from my spot on the couch, walked away from my son who was sitting with his back against me, distracted by his tablet, and began to fold laundry. It took exactly two seconds for him to realize that his mommy, who he had been away from for eight entire hours, was no longer propping him up and for him to run into the room crying.
I tried being patient, getting on his level and explaining to a not-even two year old that mommy needed to put the clean sheets on the bed. I tell him he can help and set him on the bed and try to make this mundane task some kind of exciting for him. Big surprise that being close but not being held really did nothing for him, my little boy who thrives on touch and closeness.
Fast forward thirty minutes. Frustrations are at an all time high for all three members of our happy, blessed family. Asher is frustrated, wanting so desperately for me to just sit with him, Daddy is frustrated because our son is not going to be consoled by anyone but mommy at this point, and I’m frustrated because how can I possibly do everything (my words) while sitting with my son. I’m certain I’m not the only mother to have encountered this night and I’m certain it probably won’t be the only time this scene is played out. (Side note: I never quite understood mom guilt. I totally get it now; I’m in on the joke. Pray for us, folks.)
I eventually get the laundry folded and put away and lay down with Asher as I had promised and he immediately calms down. He’s exhausted and he relaxes as he gears down to fall asleep. I immediately break down into full on ugly crying beside a baby who is sleeping a deep sleep. You see, somewhere between leaving the arms of his very first mommy, his birth mom, and into his second foster mom’s arms, he had learned a comfort mechanism to fall asleep. He likes to rub the skin around your elbow. I thought it was cute at first; last night I saw it for what it was. Because for him to reach and rub your elbow, you must wrap your arm over him and then he has to lock his arm over yours. Somewhere from first mommy to third, and now fourth mommy, he has learned that comfort means locking his arm over yours in a tight grip so that he knows you can’t go anywhere. In under two years, my son has learned that he must hold tight to his comfort for fear of it leaving.
Are you a wreck yet? Same.
So I sat and cried.
For all the hard that he has experienced.
For all the ways I could have been better, done better, loved better.
And then I prayed.
“God, I just want to be everything You made me to be for him. I want to give him my best.” And before I can even completely think out those two sentences, I hear Him interrupt me, the way He frequently and gently corrects me. I hear, “Give Me your best first. That’s the only way you’ll have anything else of worth to give.”
Talk about correction. If I’m being honest, since becoming a mommy, I’ve really not been disciplined in my relationship with Christ. Which is a way of sugar coating “I haven’t made Christ a priority.” Which is also a way of sugar coating “I’ve prioritized everything over Christ.” Things that have no eternal value and, often, even marginal earthly value. We have all heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” I’m going to venture a little further and say you can’t parent well when you don’t spend time with your Heavenly Father. He should be my example, my wise counsel, and my guide. If I’m not spending time with him consistently, how can I know how to react, when and how to prioritize tasks and time, and all the ways to love on my family well?
Don’t read this and think that I expect to be a mommy and wife without flaws and mistakes. But as a Christian, I should hold myself to a high standard. I should expect myself to show my family the goodness of Christ through my words and actions.
Ephesians 4:23-24 says: “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”
My biggest and best testimony to all that Christ has to offer starts in my home. So that’s where I am today. That’s my ugly and beautiful woven into a tapestry of mercy and grace, beauty and ashes being laid out as an offering to the God who sees all, knows more of my heart than I do, and is continuously wooing me closer to Him.