Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Like there’s just too much to do, and no way to do it, let alone do it all with a smile?
I do. It’s those days that make me think I might be failing at motherhood. It’s those days that make me feel like I’m alone. The days that lead me to question, what am I doing wrong? How will I make it through this?
But, often, those are also the days when I receive mercy. They are the days when I receive reminders. I’m not alone. I can do this. Everything will be Okay.
On one particular day like that, I received more than just mercy. I received a change of perspective that I hope to never forget, because it changed the way I mother forever.
It was a Sunday, and my husband had worked the night before, so I got up early to get the kids ready for church by myself.
At the time, I had a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a nursing infant.
We were having particular trouble with the two-year-old. He is a naturally sweet boy with a wild and silly side. His silly side didn’t know when to turn off and getting him ready for church could take as long as an hour. I must confess, at times like this, I often got frustrated and resorted with threatening, punishment, and raised tones in order to reach our destination.
This Sunday was particularly bad, still, I somehow managed to get the kids in the car, out of the car, and into church before the meeting began. We even found a bench to sit on.
Things were going okay. I took a deep breathe as the baby fell asleep on my chest. That’s when my two-year-old started to act up again.
“Shhh, It’s time to be reverent.” I whispered.
I don’t remember his exact response, just that it was loud and inappropriate. I continued to whisper to him, trying my hardest to wrangle him without disturbing the baby. It wasn’t working.
I felt stuck. If I moved, I would wake the sleeping baby, who probably hadn’t slept well the night before (knowing the sleeping patterns of this particular child). If I didn’t move, the entire congregation would be subjected to my two-year-old’s distracting chatter.
I said a silent prayer, “Lord, please help me. Please tell me what to do.”
I got an immediate answer. A thought came to my mind.
“Just Love him.”
“What do you mean? How do I just love him. I do love him, but how does that help me right now?”
I started to cry. I was sleep deprived, confused, and so inadequate.
That’s when my little boy took my face in his hands.
“Mommy? What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
And I knew I had an opportunity to love him, to explain to him with love, not threats, not punishments, but with love, why I needed him to behave.
“Because, sweetie, mommy loves church and mommy wants to listen, but she can’t do that when you’re noisy.”
“You need me to whisper?” He said in the loudest whisper imaginable.
“Yes. I love you so much honey. Can you be reverent for me?”
I got a great big kiss, a great big hug, and a wiggly, but trying to whisper two-year-old.
We made it through the meeting. We made it through, and I knew that I wasn’t really alone. The Lord would help make up for my inadequacies, and when I parent with love I get much better results than when I allow my stress to parent for me.
The story doesn’t end there. Later, when they asked for parenting experiences in a women’s meeting, I shared what had happened. So many of my sweet sister’s came up to me after and expressed regret that they didn’t know I was often at church by myself.
Since that day, when I’m at church without my husband, I have always had offers of help. The two single sisters who are happy to hold the baby for me, or the teenager who will play with my daughter, or even the older gentlemen who will make eye contact and smile at my son. These people have further reminded me that I’m not alone, and shown me that if I need help, I need only make it known.
I wish I could say that my parenting changed over night, but as with all things, it takes time. I’m still working on it, but in the back of my mind, when I’m faced with a challenging situation with my kids, I already know the answer to my question. What should I do? Love them, just love them.