She closed the bedroom door behind her and gasped loudly, cupping her mouth with her trembling hands. Shutting out the cries and screams in the next room, she let her mind go to mute. On the floor her body rocked rythmicaly back and forth as she soothed herself into a trance. The trance broke too suddenly and she could do nothing but cry. Cry and cry. She prayed, she moaned, she cried some more. Her head spun and her heart raced. She felt like a failure of a mother.
There she sat, for a full half hour while her children continued to plead for her attention. She replayed the scenario in her head...
half an hour earlier:
"Mooooooom. I want to go fast fast. PUSH ME."
One of those days again... she thought grudgingly. Lately it is always one of those days...
"I can't push you, son. I can only help you because I am holding your sister."
"But I want to go FAST!" He refused to pedal forward on his own, still not sure how to make the bike that he sat on move.
"Okay...just one second. Let me put her down in the grass. Hold on." The tired mom of two plopped her baby in the wet grass and quickly pushed her son on the bicycle. She glanced behind her and noticed a chubby figure waddle into the street.
In seconds she swooped up her daughter and breathed a sigh of relief. She was faced once again with a screaming 3 year old.
"Okay! You know what? Let's go put the bike back and walk to the park. How about that?" She so desperately wanted to stay outside in the sunshine- that glorious sunshine that she'd been out of for the last 3 days because she knew that taking the kids outside would cause chaos. And she was right.
"NO!!!! I no want to go to park! I want to ride my bike!" Ride. Yeah, right. He wanted to be pushed for five miles, more like.
The battle from son to mother to wiggly baby commenced, until enough was enough. The mom grabbed the bike in her free hand and carried it to the back porch a few yards away, balancing her baby on her hip with the other. Her son screamed louder and ran away in the opposite direction. Her only option was to place the fussy baby inside, close the screen, and chase after him. It was going to be a really long day.
Once inside, she did her fair share of yelling and spanking to "fix" the situation, only making it worse and making her heart sink to the pit of her stomach. She was not calm, she was not kind, she was not gentle. In that moment, she hated what she was. That mom who yells and spanks and loses her cool. so. very. easily.
Behind the bedroom door she tried to muffle her cries, tried to stop the sobbing- but she couldn't. All the anger and fear and shame from the past few weeks rose up within her and formed a ball of mush in her throat. Is this a panic attack? she wondered. Possibly. All she knew was that she needed someone to make it stop. She tried to pray but could not speak or think clearly. In a haze she grabbed her phone and punched the button to call her husband.
"I know you're on break. Were you going to call me?" Great, now she was making the person she loved most feel guilty. Great start.
"My lunch break just started- I was about to call you. Everything okay?" He was well aware of the difficult times she had been having at home.
They talked for a bit, but she couldn't really explain. She was sobbing too much still. He left work and drove home, keeping her on the line the entire time and trying to calm her down. When he arrived they sat on their bed and went over every detail of the day and every emotion she felt.
"I will try not to go 'therapist' on you and just be a husband counseling with his wife," he assured her.
"Okay...that would be nice. Just don't stop talking to me."
There they sat and talked until he had to return to work. He gave her inspired advice and she actually felt that God was speaking through him, telling her exactly what she needed to hear.
One thing he advised was to take the kids back outside after their naps. "It doesn't matter if they are cranky or won't listen or don't deserve it. Take them anyway. For you. You need to be outside and breathe in fresh air. Don't focus on being the perfect mommy. Be there to nurture and protect- that is all. Do not try and discipline them today."
When they woke up she did as promised as took them back outside. Within minutes her son walked the curb (something she warned him not to do countless times before), fell and skid his knee. Blood dripped from his leg and he yelled at her that it hurt. Her first instinct was to take them both right back inside and forget it. But then she heard her sweet husband's voice whisper, "Take them anyway. For you."
"This is what we're going to do. Let's go inside and clean it up and put a band-aid on the owie, then we'll go to the park."
A while later, they approached the quiet park where a few other kids played. Her son had a new band-aid on his knee and he was all smiles. Her daughter, who sat in the stroller, could not care less- but she was content.
As she walked the stroller over to the bench, she noticed another young mother sitting at a picnic table. They glanced at one another for one brief second, and as quickly as it happened a peaceful feeling came over her. For some reason, she strongly felt that she was to talk to this woman. She knew it just as sure as she knew that the sun was shining.
Normally she didn't talk to anyone at this park. How was this time any different? But the prompting was undeniable. She just had to say something.
Waiting for the right moment to say hello (and not come across totally awkward) , she took her seat on the bench.
As she waited, she couldn't help but hear the conversation that this young woman was having with the older lady beside her. In just the two minutes that she listened, she could hardly believe what she heard. Great big tears welled up in her eyes, and she shut them tight in her moment of awe.
to be continued...