To All the Other Mothers
After the third or fourth or fifth battle with my son, I could feel that the rope of my patience was about one centimeter long. The little orange flame was about to touch the gun powder and I could see it happening. I was being pushed and pushed and pushed, and while I love this little guy so, so much, and his dimples make me grin inside, I could completely empathize with a woman in my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group who said, "My son is three, and he might make it to four."
I was also remembering a story that my mother-in-law has shared, about when she was in the thick of raising three small ones. She recounts how she couldn't even find respite by going into her bedroom and shutting the door. Their little fists would start knocking on the door, pounding to get to her. So, she knew what she had to do: she decided to put two doors between her and her three little cuties and hide in the bathroom. Ahh, a whole room between them.
I was thinking about this as I watched my little orange flame dancing temptingly close to the gunpowder of my nerves, and I made an executive decision to veer off this dead end road. My son hates it when I leave him inside even to just take trash out to our trash can, but I had no choice. I explained to him that I just needed to go outside, and that I would be right back. And then I walked out the front door and closed it behind me, knowing that he would be standing at the window, looking out at me, most likely crying to get me back again.
I walked out to the sidewalk and stood there. Who knows what I looked like to the neighbors or the cars passing by. I think I was probably talking out loud as I said to myself, "There is life outside this house. There is life outside this house. There is life outside this house. There's a tree. There's the sky. There's a car coming home for a lunch break. There is life outside this house. There is life outside this house." I walked back in, feeling better able to tackle the situation, or in other words, to love this little guy in my actions the way that I do in my heart.
But soon enough we were crossing antlers again, and that flame was dancing closer, and all my buttons were being pushed--choose the metaphor that helps you to know that I was getting tested in the way that a toddler can test a mommy--and I put my son in time out, and told him something like, "I will come back when it's time."
I went up the stairs, walked into our bathroom, and as I looked myself in the mirror, trying to reconcile the idea of me as a person with me as a mommy, I started to do spiritual battle, no doubt spurred on by the Beth Moore Bible study I attended last night and the pamphlet I read a couple of days ago from my sister's church entitled "The Deceiver", about how Satan wars against us.
I started a verbal assault on the enemy, and as I spoke, it was like I started to wake up to the battle that he had launched against me, as though I could suddenly see his flaming lie arrows that had been previously invisible.
I repeated truths: "The fruit is coming. The fruit is coming. The fruit is coming. The fruit is coming. You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are beautiful. He [Daddy God] loves you. He loves you. He loves you. Satan, you will be thrown down into the lake of fire, and you can't stop it. It will happen. The one who is in me is greater than you. The one who is in me is greater than you. The fruit is coming. The fruit is coming. The fruit is coming."
And you know what? I sensed that a spiritual battle had been won. Something changed in me. I became more of a mother. I was able to go back down those stairs and show Barrett grace. When he may have been expecting my impatience, I was, miraculously, wanting to instead surprise him with cuddles, a gentle correction, and then more cuddles.
Weird, huh? And amazing.
We are in battle, parents. We don't see it with our eyes, but we feel its effects. Other mothers, and you fathers out there, you and I need to know that we are in the trenches together. You are not alone.
A month or two ago, because it was so necessary for the preservation of my soul and because I felt compelled to (most likely the Holy Spirit at work), I took a piece of white printer paper and a Sharpie, and made a sign that I taped to the wall next to our bedroom door. It is that victory chant or call to action of the type you would see in a football locker room or at the exit of a church parking lot, something like, "Champions," or "You are now entering the mission field," something to look at every time you go back out there. Maybe something to slap every time you walk out the door.
My particular sign says this: "The fruit is coming. Be brave, dear one.*"
Your work matters, moms and dads. Our work matters. We are, none of us, alone. And this is just a season. The fruit of our labors is coming, though it may seem far off.
Fight for love. He is fighting for you.
*The line, "Be brave, dear one" is from a song by My Brightest Diamond called "Be Brave" (see last blog post).