We’ve been snowed in since last Friday. (I started this post on Wednesday. Due to the failure of a certain pair of small children to nap simultaneously, ever, it took awhile. But we haven’t been snowed in for over a week. Thanks be to God.) It was fun and cozy at first, then we got a little bored and then my extroverted socialite toddler started longing to get out and stretch his legs somewhere. Combined with the fact that we ran out of milk at breakfast and only had 3 eggs left, I decided to take the kids to Costco to grab a few essentials. All went smoothly at Costco and Bridget was still sleeping when we got back to the car. Will asked, “Go to Target?” hopefully. Mostly because he didn’t want to go home yet, I think. Since all seemed calm, I tossed the groceries into the back of the car and wheeled the cart back around to head into the Target.
Almost immediately, Bridget started fussing and I could tell she was working herself up. I knew she was probably getting hungry so I grabbed a box of Kind bars off the shelf, pushed us over to the home goods section and parked myself on a little loveseat set up with a Valentine’s Day vignette. (Totally what the store manager had in mind, I’m sure.) I tossed a Kind bar at Will and proceeded to nurse Bridget. There I was, congratulating myself on what a bad ass, experienced mother I am. Look at me. Nursing this baby on the display furniture in Target, simultaneously managing the toddler (with a little help from a glorified candy bar and the iPhone), and giving zero shits if anyone is looking at me. I am winning at this motherhood thing.
Back at the car, I strapped Will into his seat. (He is always first in and last out due to his propensity for being an elopement risk.) On the other side of the car, I went to open the door and- surprise!- the person next to us parked so close, it was impossible to open the door far enough to get Bridget’s carseat back in. By now, Will was crying and shouting, “Go home! Will too hungry! Go home!” on repeat. Despite the fact that it was clear there was no way the carseat was going to fit through the barely cracked door, I tried to ram it in there a few times for good measure. Shockingly enough, Bridget wasn’t happy about this strategy and started wailing, just as an irritated looking woman in a Suburban pulled up to wait for my spot. I could feel the panic/frustration/rage rising. What the hell am I going to do? Am I just supposed to sit here and wait for this dumbass to come move their car while my kids scream? Why in the name of God is that woman waiting for this spot? There are 50 available spots slightly further away from the door. MY GOD, PEOPLE.
I somehow managed to put the carseat in the front door on the other side of the car, shove it over the seat into the back seat, and get it clicked into the base. Bridget’s hysteria was rising in tandem with my own and Will had not let up one bit on his scream-chanting. “Go hooooome! Will too hungryyyyyyy! Mommy hurry! Mommmmmyyyyy! Go hoooooome! Mommmmmyyy!”
The tidal wave of anger and frustration came crashing down and I screamed at him, “Be quiet, Will! I’m TRYING! I’m TRYING! Stop saying that and JUST BE QUIET!” As I drove out of the parking deck and onto the street, silence descended on the car following my outburst of rage.
Then a little voice came from the backseat, “I sorry, Mommy.”
Shame, guilt, and regret replaced my fury immediately and I apologized profusely to my little boy for screaming at him. How can my fuse be so short with this child who I absolutely adore and dote on? I think everything about him is endearing and charming, including traits that I’m sure the general public may not. I love the way he demands, “Mommy tuck Will!” when I put him in his crib and the way he declares, “Will comin’!” when his daddy heads outside to do something. I even think it’s cute when I ask him to stop banging something into the wall and he resumes banging, slightly more gently, and upon being reminded that we do not bang inside says, “Will just tappin,’ Mommy.” And yet. One minute of obnoxious behavior in a stressful situation and I completely lose it and scream at him, like everything that’s gone wrong is his personal fault and done on purpose.
“It’s okay, Will. Mommy is so, so sorry she yelled. I love you. I’m sorry. You’re my best boy.”
“Mommy too frustrated. Mommy, Daniel [Tiger] say ask for help.”
“Thank you, Will. Mommy was too frustrated. I love you sweet boy.”
Silently, I thought, Yeah but when you’re the mommy, there’s no one to ask for help.
This whole debacle took place three days ago and I’ve been going over and over it in my mind. Partly out of guilt (although I don’t think Will even remembers it), but partly because when Will helpfully instructed me to ask for help, it reminded me that I have, more times than I would like to admit, shouted, I need help. It’s usually in my head and not out loud but still, I think this many, many times each day. My first inclination was to tell Will that there’s no one for Mommy to ask for help. But of course, there is. As soon as the situation turns stressful, I completely forget about God. (Makes sense, no?) Seriously, it did not even occur to me to pray in the midst of this debacle. And this is typical for me. I am the queen of I-can-do-it-and-I-can-do-it-without-help-look-how-competent-I-am. Motherhood is making is abundantly clear to me, over and over, that I cannot do it without help. That I am not self-sufficient, and that left to my own devices, I fail to love even the people most precious to me.
So. My Lent is going to be focused on reliance.
When I was flipping out about our house situation, my dear friend Sylvia suggested the prayer, “Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.” And during the housing fiasco, I prayed that prayer 100 times a day. It’s kind of slipped my mind lately, but I think I need to bring it back. It seems particularly fitting for the struggles I’m having right now. I am attempting to remember to pray this every time my temper flares with my toddler or I want to beg my baby to please just. go. to. sleep.
I’m also planning to read Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart. My best friend recommended it and I ordered it a couple of weeks ago but haven’t had time to get into it, so it will be Lenten reading.
That’s the prayer piece of things. I haven’t worked out the fasting and almsgiving part just yet but I have a week and a half to figure that out!