When I was pregnant with my first set of twins, I was the best mother in the world. Y’all (who are now post-pregnant mothers) know what I’m talking about. I knew what I wanted for my children and even how many times they’d hear the Bible (in its entirety) by the time they were two. Oh, the glorious know-it-all ignorance of mothering pre-born children! I’d sit with my cup of pregnancy tea and detail my plans to my smiling and nodding mother. She was never one to burst my bubble when the world would do that quickly enough.
Y’all might as well know that I started post pregnant motherhood as a failure…a dangerously anemic, spit up covered, I-used-to-be-able-to-see-the-floor!—what-happened-to-the-floor?–Is-that-ME-that-I-smell?! failure. My first two delightful little angels evacuated my uterus and proceeded to smack me across the face. I couldn’t believe it. The death of my expectations was heartbreaking. Tail-spinning. It was often difficult to breathe. I found motherhood, in its most basic form, to be natural and delightful, but every time I thought about what it was supposed to be (and how I perceived others were doing it)…my throat tightened. And, for awhile, the disappointment (leading quickly to depression), caused me to toss all of my expectations (including the desire to exit my bathrobe) lest I would ever feel like that ever again.
Two years passed, then three…and, as I began to learn, the poster child for lounge wear wasn’t who I was, either. I was an arts and crafts loving, cute clothes wearing, homeschooling, gourmet cooking, cinnamon roll baking mom who would occasionally (often) fall on her butt…and would get knocked there a few times, too. I’m like an over-achieving fire that burns itself out and then waits to be re-lit. Steadiness is something God is developing in me, it is not a quality I was born with.
In recent years, I have lived through those times that would stop anyone cold and would render many useless. And because my life does not come with the option of sick days, vacation days, or personal days, I’ve known the bitter defeat of plowing head-on into a morning, determined to make it work, only to end up a screaming and then crying puddle on the bathroom floor. Failing, when you’re not allowed to fail, is one of those emotions far too crushing to survive without a Savior. And that’s good. But Jesus doesn’t simply live to lift us from the muck and mire. He likes to help us avoid it, too.
Now, I’m a year round home-schooler. We home school year round because I think three months off is a little counterproductive. But, probably more importantly, it allows us to have days where I wake up and make a plan to fail.
Failure days are my reset button. I don’t know what I’d do without them. And, no, they don’t really amount to failing…not in the long run. They are simply days when I wake up done…undone. There have been desperate times when I’ve prefabricated entire failure weeks. I’ve stocked the freezer with chicken nuggets and added every educational video ever made to the Netflix queue. But, usually, I just need a day-off. Sometimes, I simply need a day where I’m not asking six year olds to redo their handwriting work or wondering why-on-earth the kids’ room gets messier when I ask them to clean it (and why this only happens when I’m busy with something else).
Last week, I woke up tired. As I held a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee between my hands, all I wanted to do was drift back to sleep. My bed is the most seductive on those cold mornings when I’ve stayed up way too late the night before. Even when the fitted sheet has shifted in the night and the top sheet is now nowhere to be found, there is still nowhere else I’d rather be on those winter days where my thoughts are as dark as the morning.
I knew exactly what we needed to do on that Wednesday. But I also knew that, if we proceeded unchecked, we would all hate each other by the end of the day. I set aside my work, put away the school books, turned on our DC Talk Pandora station and pulled out our favorite games…
And, at the end of the day, after hours of cuddles, games, popcorn and movies, hot tea and story time, we (not just Mama) headed to bed with big smiles and “I love our family!”s.
And that, to me, means success.