By Robyn Whitlock
“Mom, can you help me tape this?” Andrew asks.
“Not right now, sweetie. Do the best you can, okay?” I respond, holding a screeching baby with one arm and a basket of dirty laundry in the other.
It’s ten o’clock and nobody is dressed yet, the baby is as cranky as he’s ever been, and I didn’t get more than two hours of sleep in a row last night. My husband is out of town and a too-high smoke alarm beeps every three minutes. I think it needs a new battery.
Toys cover the floor. I think of my neighbor and her always tidy house. How does she do it? I use my foot to forge a path through the toys in the living room, and make my way to the stereo.
Turning up the music, I try to warm the mood in our home, which at the moment teeters somewhere between difficult and total chaos.
I grab Benjamin’s cozy blanket and binky, and sit down on the floor to cuddle him. We sing along to the music, and the dark cloud lifts just a little. I manage to help Andrew with his project.
“Today is a hard day,” Andrew tells me. “Benjamin won’t stop crying.”
“Yeah,” Bryce agrees, “it’s giving me a headache.”
“Yes,” I agree, “it is a hard day. Today is a ‘let’s just do the best we can’ kind of day.”
Lord, I pray, be present with us on this hard day. I give you my agenda — the laundry, the sticky floor, the scattered toys, my need for a nap. Please give me your perspective for today.
The only magic in this prayer happens in my own attitude. The house is still a mess and the baby is still fussy, but my attitude shifts. I stop looking at the mess and start looking at my three boys. It seems like just yesterday Bryce and Andrew were Benjamin’s age. Now look at them! Big kindergarteners! I hold Benjamin closer. Suddenly, it is enough to sit on the floor in my pajamas and simply be with my children.
I think of how much energy I spend trying to avoid this hard place. I plan activities ahead of time, stay up late to catch up on laundry, and make meals in advance. I don’t like feeling out of control. But the truth is, no matter how much I plan ahead, sometimes motherhood is hard. No amount of planning ahead can prevent toddler meltdowns and messy houses. They’re a fact of life with three small children.
What I can do is prepare my heart to embrace these children as they are. To spend less time planning for what might come next and simply embrace what is — this moment with my boys.
On some days, this is the best I can do. And it is enough.