It’s Friday and I had high hopes of having a glass of wine that I would swirl slowly in a fancy glass, examining the tannins like I have a clue what those mean, accompanied by a warm slice of meatloaf. Don’t balk at the meatloaf people. Sure, it may not be your idea of a Friday night but I put bacon on it, so that’s gotta count for something. Meatloaf is more of a casserole dish at a church potluck from whence I came, hailing from a small non-denominational church where the jello was plenty and the vegetables were few. Nevertheless, my dreams were about to come true around 7 pm and I could so much as taste it as I was going through the bedtime routine:
“Brush your teeth. Yes, you have to do it twice a day. No, I can not brush them for you. I am not sure what we will do tomorrow. Yes, I did remember that I promised you we could watch a show at dinner, but I forgot. No, I don’t think this is the worst day ever.” Coupled with now the added multi-tasking that takes place now that I have a second child: “I am going to nurse her and bounce her to sleep while she is screaming, and I need you to get in bed and block out the noise and act like this is all normal. Yes, I know that I am screaming and not singing, but I have to because your sister is freaking out.”
By the time I got the kids to bed and I had woken up from the inevitable one-hour nap that occurs when you lay with them and their slow breaths lull you to sleep, it was all I could muster to slap a piece of cold meatloaf on a pink plastic plate from Ikea and drink water from my son’s water bottle.
Someone asked me the other day how things were going now that we had two kids and I just said: “Well honestly, it’s all one big crap shoot.” They stared at me with a mixed look of sympathy and horror and let out a little laugh and said, “You’re doing great!” but sounded like: “She’s emotionally unstable.” You see, I am living in this fragile place where I am trying to keep both children alive, and all the joys of the newborn stage are so fresh. “She smells so good! Her head is so round!” And even this odd phenomenon that happens: “Yay! Such great poops!” I mean it’s only total sleep deprivation and a rush of hormones that gets people to smile at, analyze, and cheer for a specific time of bowel movement.
I can’t even.
But then there is this added bonus and pressure making sure I am not damaging the older child and send him to more therapy than we have already caused him. This involves an amount of patience that I don’t have. I have prayed for it, tried to force it, and even just pretended to have it, and it just doesn’t work. It’s the constant sounds and talking and never-ending questions that get to me. It’s on a level that is both beautiful and sweet and curious but also not always that.
At any given moment in my house or car there are sounds that resemble a whoopee cushion, screaming phrases and songs that involve a superhero scene in which everyone has crashed and exploded, and I’m wondering where the tea party is and why none of the villains said “please” or “thank you”. All the while, laundry stays unfolded in a pile on my couch for days, and I cant get a recipe correct to save my life. One time when my in-laws came to visit we asked them to help fold some clothes and then we pulled out SEVEN baskets of clean laundry. Lord, fix it. In these moments, I breathe deeply and sing hymns to try and bring just one moment of peace to my brain.
This one time I tried to make homemade graham crackers so my son would have the same snack at his gluten-school. Nailed it.
Parenting is hard. But also, so is marriage. Actually I find that any type of relationship: kids, spouse, friends, family, church members, the guy that cut you off, the lady that refuses to smile at you, and the relationship with Jesus Himself are all hard. They require a certain amount of prayer, communication, love, grace, and selflessness in order for them to be in harmony.
When my husband and I first got married, I remember putting away our clothes and our dishes and being so excited for our lives together. I was on cloud nine! We had waited to have sex and so that world awaited us, we had not lived together, so this was so new and exciting, and we had new dishes and furniture that we ready for entertaining and late nights on the couch watching movies and Netflix. We had all the feels, and all was right in the world.
And then my husband sat down next to me and started to eat something. And I almost lost my all my crap.
What happened? Did he always eat this loud and obnoxious? Were crumbs always falling out of his mouth, or does marriage change our depth perception and now this is a new phenomenon and for the good of humanity we will all have to learn to put food in our mouth properly all over again?
It’s amazing how at one moment people are delightful beings to be with and be around and then they eat obnoxiously, brush their teeth like they are swallowing a bunch of water while drowning, or call you a “poop slap face” and you basically want to crawl into your closet with headphones on and Dixie chicks turned up.
Cowboy, take me away.
Yes, we all share a room. This stemmed from a necessity to use money for therapy and not rent, plus an idealistic life of living minimally. And now here we are two years later and therapy is done and minimalism is bursting at the seams and our lease is up in May. Go in peace.
So my nightly prayer and my parenting mantra: Jesus, fill in the gaps.
This is a desperate plea for the God of the Universe to yet again create something out of nothing, ex nihilo, if you will. To take the places that I only see the bad and somehow knit together the places that were really good. The spots where we loved one another well, where we each saw the other for who we were created to be and where we each gave one another freedom to be ourselves. The places where we encouraged to throw off our inhibitions and be wildly in love with life, may those places be the things that stick in our hearts. May the “I’m sorries” be louder than the yelling and the smiles always stick while the tears get wiped away.
So this Friday, when the kids are in bed two hours late, the dinner I planned is burned or is missing the key ingredient, when I have forgotten to text everyone back and to wear matching clothes, I will know one thing: the people in my house will know they are loved. Not by the fact that I didn’t make mistakes, but because I said sorry when I needed to and gave our grace like candy. We all will know that no matter what went wrong today, tomorrow is a new one and together we will soldier on.