“Mom, I put deodorant on today.” My eight year old announced when he came through the door on Friday afternoon.
“Oh, good, honey… What kind?” I asked, wondering if he’d grabbed my stick or my husband’s off the shelf that morning.
“The best smell in the world – beef jerky!” He announced proudly. He watched my mouth open and close as no sound escaped, and continued brightly, “I chewed it and then rubbed it under my arms. It’s irresistible!!”
I let my breath out through my teeth. “Ahh… well, we’ll get you some real deodorant this week. Then you won’t have to be so… irresistible.”
It wasn’t till I walked away and digested his words that I wondered what he’d done with the jerky after using it for his creative purposes…
My list of parenting failures is extensive. Not only did my oldest smell like garlicky rotten meat, but my toddler rubbed yogurt all over his shirt. My four year old in the wheelchair thinks it’s cute to answer every stranger’s genial hello with a growl. My six year old is addicted to sugar. My seven year old finished his dreaded handwriting assignment, then balled it up and tried to eat it in protest. The three month old can’t seem to unplug the painful blocked milk duct through nursing. And I won’t even tell you I hid in the bathroom to surf Facebook and I realized mice had visited the pasta after I threw it in the boiling water and I forgot to pray and I threw a tantrum about my super small house. I failed. And that was just today. I’m convinced all the pretty and perky moms around me must roll their perfectly made up eyes and gently steer their clean obedient children with white shoes in the opposite direction from this disheveled mom and her motley crew whining in mismatched puddle boots.
I feel like a victim.
Of course, there are some days when I have my ducks lined up in a cute row behind me. Some days I remember to neither wear white nor black so the dirt smudges, pizza, kid snot and baby drool don’t show quite so well. Some days a child will read a whole chapter book from his school list without it being assigned, or do a chore without prodding. Some days they share something other than just germs. Some days they just want to play with ice cubes rather than something expensive that requires mommy to use any glue or patience. Some days I not only make a meal plan but follow it. Some days they eat it too. Some days I remember I have a husband. Some days I brave Wal Mart with six kids and a wheelchair and win. Some days nobody cries. Not even me.
And I feel like a supermom.
But for my own sake and yours, don’t treat me like either. Both are pretty little lies. From the pit.
If you ever notice me acting like either option, please pull me out of the bathroom where I’m hiding. And take away the empty bag of chocolate. Hand me a stiff drink of coffee and a Bible and remind me of the servant in Luke 17. He worked all day in the fields. When he came in, naturally, he was tired and hungry. But it was still his duty to make sure his master was fed and attended to before he could rest himself. This feels uncannily familiar. I’d like to think this is unfair. Wouldn’t he be justified to feel like a victim having to do so much every day? And shouldn’t he be rewarded if he did manage to work a long day and continue on through the evening?
No. He is doing simply what is expected. Neither more nor less. The master knows his capabilities. He furnishes his tools. He assures the servant of a good meal and sufficient rest when the work is done. He doesn’t feel sorry for him. He doesn’t give him a medal for simply doing his daily work. I don’t know why I’m saying he. This is personal.
The comment I hear most often is from someone shaking their head murmuring, “You sure are busy!” As if that’s the most piteous thing in the world. Granted, I don’t have a lot of downtime. I can’t tell you the last time I watched a movie or went aimlessly shopping or even found time to blog or shower without some little person popping shamelessly in asking for something. I’m not a victim because of that. I have been given great gifts and the responsibility that comes along with them. Throwing pity parties and allowing others to bring cake and allow me to wallow in it is gross. Is it really so negative to have a full life? That’s a lie. From the pit.
But to feel like I am somehow capable of raising another six souls to be both smart and wise, both gentle and strong, both quick and careful, both pure and prepared, both confident enough to cook their own goose and yet willing to eat humble pie when justly served- who do I think I am?!? This work is hard. No matter how much I love these grubby little creatures that share my DNA, this job is beyond me. Maybe, just maybe, if I had a PhD in nutrition, kinesiology, medicine, teaching, engineering, homemaking, and child psychology – and my kids fit into preconceived boxes – maybe if I could function on an hour of sleep a day, maybe if I had a thousand years, and a maid, and chauffeur, individual tutors, the latest medical interventions, wings, eyes in the back of my head, a mansion, lightning reflexes, sage wisdom, understanding in rocket science, patience, and the ability to see the future- maybe then, I could do this motherhood thing pretty well. But I’m not God. I royally mess this gig up. Daily. To think I’m up to this is – say it with me – a lie. From the pit.
No. I am what I am by the grace of God. That deserves neither pity nor pride. I am pushed to the limits, though I often find in the pushing that I go further than I would have taken myself. That’s not a bad thing.
Beef jerky deodorant, on the other hand…