All I wanted was one cute picture.

All I wanted was one cute picture.

As a follow-up to my 3o Things I Learned from My Daughters… Mom problems. Dad Problems…

Today, someone I was with at the park pooped in their underwear and asked me to help wipe them clean. Then someone cried when I wouldn’t carry them to the car. Before that, someone climbed in my bed with dirty feet at 5am and left crumbs of I-don’t-know-what on my clean sheets, and someone stuck their finger in my nose and laughed at me. Tonight, I cleaned my whole house and then someone went around trashing all my hard work. I tried to go to the bathroom but someone kept opening the door and asking to see what I was doing…

This is a normal day. Actually, this is only a sliver of a normal day as a mom. These are moments that any rational person would define as frustrating – if not terrible.

From a normal, sane, adult person’s point-of-view, every day as a mom is a terrible day.

What’s a woman, who finds herself being a mom, to do about all this?

As a young adult I worked hard to choose good friends. I chose friends who treated me with love and kindness. If someone couldn’t respect my boundaries or be a good influence, I kept them as an acquaintance but not as a close friend. I didn’t befriend people I would have to teach how to be healthy.

Now, my closest friends and roommates are small, demanding people. People who spill stuff everywhere. People who cry when you don’t let them watch their choice in TV show. People who tell me I look old. People who never ask how I am doing. I live with these people. My mother would never approve of this.

And yet, I AM THEIR MOTHER. I am the mother of these tiny people in the process of learning how to be kind, respectful, and healthy. But, I have to teach them these guidelines. It’s a switch I’m having trouble making.

I know, I know. I can already hear you criticizing me. It’s very easy to pinpoint where I might be going wrong in my parenting.

“You are not their friend, you are their parent.”

“If your children’s behavior is inappropriate, that is your fault, not theirs’.”

Absolutely! My children are my children. I love them. They are pretty stinkin’ well-behaved, loving, funny, a joy to be with. Our family is wonderful. It is my responsibility. THAT’S PART OF THE PROBLEM.

First of all, my family is great. And, oh my word, I can only imagine how terrible life is for others who do have really hard kids and family dynamics to deal with.

Secondly, I KNOW I am supposed to be grateful for all of the good in my life. My family is mostly healthy and loving – and that’s a huge gift. I know… I know.

Why do you think I feel so bad about knowing the truth and not being able to put my blinders on and pretend that I like being pooped on or having other people’s fingers in my nose?

****** It all started with a cat******

I was ten-years-old when Stripes, my childhood cat, taught me that having kids can suck the joy right out of you.

A playful, loving cat from the moment she joined our family, Stripes and I were fast friends. Stripes became pregnant and I was initially excited. KITTENS! Kittens living in our house. Oh, the fun we would have playing together all summer long. It was a dream come true. KITTENS!

Stripes, full of courage and natural strength , birthed her kittens one eventful afternoon. Patiently, I waited for the kittens to grow up. A few weeks went by. Their tiny eyes opened and their paws grew spunky. And, play we did! String! Flashlights! Fuzzballs! It was the best.

Except for Stripes. She didn’t play with us.

Stripes lay in my bed and rested. The kittens played and explored. Stripes continued to lay in bed. When the kittens were tired or hungry they all ran to her and snuggled, ate, climbed, bit, grabbed, snuggled some more, ate some more and went to sleep on top of their mom.

Stripes existed as the life-source for other tiny beings but her life-source had gone dim.

The kittens sucked the life right out of my friend. She was never the same.

So, when I got pregnant for the very first time, my first words were not full of joy and excitement. I had spent those emotions on Stripes’ babies when I was ten. I knew what I was in for now. Despite being happily married and actually purposefully making a baby, my first words when I found out I was pregnant were “Oh, Crap!”

Aaaaww! So sweet, right?

Listen, I know it’s all a miracle. I know these two little children in my house are an honor and a gift.

But taking care of them is terribly hard work.

******

So, what IS a woman, who finds herself being a mom, to do about all of this?

 ******

Here’s all I can do:

Struggle. Cry. Laugh. Cling to the source of my life for help. Sow the seeds of deep love however I can. Wonder at the mystery and pleasure and pain of it all. And if I cry or laugh hysterically while I clean the toilet after my daughter tries to “pee like daddy,” that’s fine with me.

Remember that fertilizer is made of “crap” and in order to have a beautiful, thriving garden you need a lot of fertilizer.

Mamas (and Papas), if you are reading this, don’t give up on yourself. You still matter. You matter in your own self and not just as the source of life for someone else. You are the gardener of a whole garden now, not just your own little tree. It’s going to be hard work. Use the crap. Use it all to grow good things for yourself and your family. If we do this well, when they are little and our seedlings need a lot of care, then as the years go on, the entire family will hopefully have food and beauty to enjoy.

There will still be terrible days everyday, but if you and I are lucky, maybe we will learn to focus on the flowers blooming and not the “fertilizer” making it all grow.

What about you??? How do you make it through thrive in your “terrible” days?  What keeps you going?

-Nicole

Prayer: Hey, God, can you please, please, please help me find purpose and joy in all the terrible days? And in the moments I freak out… can you please redeem those in some awesome way?  Pay back the years the locusts have eaten, use all things for good… all that hopeful stuff? Thank you! I choose to believe this all matters.