I’m writing this from our bathroom floor – with back to tub – because my little potty-training beauty won’t stop climbing out of her crib and declaring she needs to go potty.
Her chubby naked legs hang dangling from the seat as she sings about Jesus and poo-poos all in one breath, and her little fingers unravel and crinkle up more squares of toilet paper than I care to count while waiting for that half of a tinkle to trickle into the toilet.
This is the fifth time in the hour since she was supposed to be sleeping.***
And you know and I know that my youngest has me trapped. Because someone must have let her in on the secret that mamma doesn’t like having to clean up soaked bedding, or maybe she’s simply realized that this mom is not into having to potty-train right over.
And you and I both know that the one time I don’t let her scale the bars like an ape and go skipping to the bathroom, is most certainly going to end up being the time that the explosion will take place – even if she did just go forty-three seconds ago.
I’ve tried sticker charts (which probably have the best results, but are useless when the chance at a sticker has already been lost). Diapers (with undies underneath so all is hopefully not wasted). Treats. New sleeping arrangements. Rebuking. Consequences. Putting her back in bed over and over and over. All. of. it. – consistently. And so I’ve succumbed to typing from the hallway or the tiles as I constantly go back and forth, praying that she’ll finally wear herself right out.
(She’s still singing on the toilet – in case you were wondering.)
It’s just one of those days (again) when it’s glaringly obvious that I don’t have it all together. My flaws scream much louder than my triumphs. It’s this whirlwind of ups and downs, beauty in the ugly, do-overs and struggles, and sitting on the bathroom floor days because I just can’t seem to figure out what else to do.
And I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve let them all down.
I serve them processed (non-organic) chicken nuggets.
I go for days forgetting to help brush their teeth.
My laundry detergent isn’t homemade.
We’ve all mastered trudging down steps and searching through mountains of unfolded laundry (the laundry that went through the washer three times before I remembered to switch it over).
My kitchen right now is still piled with crusted dishes.
I never seem to get socks on just right.
And the shoes lying rag tag all over the floor? I cannot, cannot find a good system.
I respond like I’m listening when really I’m not.
And I plop them in front of a video so I can have a few moments of quiet.
My kids hear daily the threat about their toys and their clothes found just shy of the basket, and how they will be gathered and sold if they’re not picked up.
I don’t pray with them as much as I should.
I am quick to anger and way too impatient.
I crush little spirits instead of pouring out grace.
I am the mom who tries to mend all the broken pieces together, but can barely sew on a button.
And this is real.
And this is normal.
And my kids? (Like my little girl who’s now stretching up on her tip-toes in the room where she’s supposed to be sleeping, and rattling to open the door knob once again…)They’re normal too.
But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – there are no perfect mammas, only mammas being perfected.
This is real.
Sometimes grand, but often messy.
Full of moms who are too tired to plan a date night, and who wear that messy bun proud. Moms who try their hardest to cut slices of cake exactly evenly, and are starving for just ten minutes of uninterrupted time in His Word. Moms who are overwhelmed to tears by joys or sorrows or both, and have kids who argue with ragamuffin holes in their jeans, and can never find matching shoes when they’re already going to be late for church. Moms who find art made with dry-erase markers up and down the newly painted walls. Moms going through blessings or heartaches or just plain monotonous days of happy, sad, whining, giggling, demands, and struggles.
Feeling lost in this rinse and repeat cycle.
And it’s easy when you’re recalling all your short-comings while sitting next to the tub instead of soaking in it to feel that this badge you wear of being “just a mom” is far from stellar.
Just a mom.
Just a life giver.
Just a laborer of love.
Just a miracle displayer.
Just a warrior for hearts, and souls, and minds and lives.
Just a boo-boo kisser. Humble bottom wiper. Food maker. 24/7 keeper of hearts and homes. Accomplished forgiver. Image bearer. Soul shaper. Kingdom worker.
And we may crack. And we may out-right fail. And our hearts may very well get ripped in two. But we will get back up again in the morning (or when that little one comes knocking in the middle of the night).
Because it’s more than we realize – this giving of self. This going to battle for hearts over and over and over.
And it’s more than enough – these pieces of grace barely stitched together.
And it’s ravishing – the beautifully imperfect mother getting up again and again and again, allowing God to work mightily through her.
(Oh, and I’m going to go make sure this little one is truly tucked in bed one more time.)
***It’s over a week later when I’m finishing this post, and we’ve moved sweet Ariya to a “big girl bed.” She still comes peeking her head out through the door with every excuse for why she’s not in bed… but at least we’re no longer scaling the rails. :) This is real.