Do you guys ever sit back and watch your children destroy the house like I’m doing right now? I just really want to sit, is the thing. So, if saying goodbye to one roll of paper towels is what will give me 5 minutes of rest and the girls 5 minutes of sheer bliss, it’s worth it to me.
Let me tell you about a day I had last week.
I woke up in a fog. I was just grouchy. I was still getting over that virus I told you about, and I just didn’t feel like exerting the energy it takes to keep the ship running, with the sweeping-wiping-changing-bouncing-cooking-feeding-straightening-re-straightening-showering-folding-washing-rewashing-refolding-putting away-patting-singing-vacuuming-scrubbing routine.
I was tired.
See, I’d already cooked two meals while being screamed at because the meals weren’t coming quickly enough. That’s the phase my 15-month-old is in. She gets hungry, but it’s just not clicking yet that Mommy needs to prepare the food that she is so desperate for. So, she screams at my feet while I cook for her. Then, she inhales a third of it, rubs the second third of it deep into the crevices of her high chair parts, and sprinkles the last third directly into the cracks of our wooden floor. Such precision. It’s amazing.
As I write this, I acknowledge and embrace the fact that these are the glory days. These are the precious moments that I cherish so much I already feel like I miss them, even though they are currently happening.
But, I’m still tired. And it’s still hard.
So, after sweeping up the millions of crumbs for the millionth time, I looked at the clock and realized that any second my people would be ready for the eating trauma again. Dinner time. I really didn’t feel like messing up the kitchen again, so I made grilled cheeses and pulled a fun-mom move; I told the girls we were picnicking in the front yard (a.k.a. letting the birds clean up after dinner).
This seemed like a great plan. I took a picture of the picnic perfection…
… and not even two seconds after this photo was snapped, Ever, the big one, whipped her head around at the sound of a dog barking or a car door slamming and her milk flew into the air and landed on the tray, covering the grilled cheese feast I’d just fixed.
In a sub-par mom moment, I responded with a big sigh and told her, gruffly, that she needed to still eat her sandwich.
So, of course, crying ensued. We, once again, did a good job of alienating the neighborhood. And I brought the mess inside and upstairs to my pristine(ish) dining table.
I’m not a monster. I inspected the sandwich, and it really wasn’t too soaked. I’d call it a flavor-enhancing dairy drizzle. Anyway, the picnic excitement had quickly devolved into soggy sandwich sadness.
I held the baby on my lap as she happily shoved green beans into her face, and I looked out the window, wondering when, or if, I’d ever rest again.
“Mommy,” my five-year-old said, “please smile at me.”
Oh, how I wish I’d smiled at her right then. A warm, genuine, grace-filled smile. But, the thing is, after the big spill, she had been defiant. And that made me embarrassed. And even though she’d apologized and I’d said, “I forgive you,” I hadn’t flipped the switch. I said, “Ever, I love you so much. I like you. You’re my baby. I know the milk spill was an accident. But, Mommy is so tired and I just don’t feel like smiling right now.”
Then the baby, either being used as a tool of the Lord, or wise beyond her years, picked up Ever’s milky sandwich, gave her a big smile, took a bite, and said, “Mmmmm!”
And at that, the switch was flipped.
My 15-month-old took her big sister’s place as the soggy sandwich eater. It wasn’t truly loving. It wasn’t actually selfless. It was a toddler with untested taste buds. But, it was still a soggy sandwich sacrifice.
My diaper-wearing toddler’s thoughtless sacrifice looked a little bit like a much more significant sacrifice that’s easy for me to take for granted. Some days, I might as well be a 5-year-old with spilled milk. But Jesus intervened. Jesus sacrificed Himself to save me from so much more than a disappointing dinner. Instead of justice, I get Jesus.
I am gruff. Jesus is gracious.
I make messes. Jesus makes miracles.
I lack smiles. Jesus lacks nothing.
I can’t rest. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden…”
I love my two little mess makers so much and somehow, someway, God loves me even more than that. He did more than eat a soggy sandwich for me.
He died. I live forever.
Even though I make messes, God never fails to give me His smile.
I’m glad He doesn’t make me clean everything up. I’m all out of paper towels.