|Photo by jimmy brown|
I always tell my kids the Scriptures contain hidden treasure for those who seek it. They never looked, though.
But on my two breakfast-in-bed mornings, I lie there, wide awake, watching my husband process another REM cycle, until someone else in the house rolls out of the sack and remembers what said they were going to do. One year I threw in the towel after ninety minutes of staring at the ceiling, got up, and made my own coffee.
They all got mad. You ungrateful mother.
After that we agreed on a time-point. If Mama doesn’t smell the java and waffles by 7:00 a.m., all bets are off.
To be honest, though, I’m not always sure I deserve to be served anything other than a visit from CPS or a ride in the loony-bin paddy wagon. I once actually, literally, no-joke climbed onto the railing of our second-story deck in order to shimmy up onto the roof of the shed, so I could hide from my progeny, stare into the tranquil blue sky, and will my 270/150 blood pressure and 185 bpm heart rate down to levels below the cardiopulmonary crash line.
Seriously, me alone on the roof was a better situation for everybody that day. I might've had some hormones going on.
Other times, though, I think I ought to get breakfast in bed every stinkin’ morning, along with a mani-pedi, full-body massage, and a couple of cabana boys bringing me fruity alcoholic beverages as they take turns fanning my maternally devoted self with woven palm fronds. “You are so lucky to have me,” I tell my children.
For example, have you ever ridden in a car with small children for any length of time? Thank you God the baby days are over; sitting in gridlock with a squalling infant strapped in the car seat behind you is a special kind of hell. But older kids bring their own brand of misery to a road trip. Here’s a short excerpt from a forty-five minute drive to the airport with three children:
Where are we going? Stop touching me! Mom, she’s touching me! Did you bring any snacks? Did you bring any drinks? Did you bring anything to do? Stop looking at me! Mom, he’s looking at me! Are you sure you don’t have snacks? Did you look in your purse? Can I look in your purse? I dropped your purse. I can’t pick it up, stuff’s rolling everywhere! I said stop looking at me! I have to go to the bathroom. Can I play Angry Birds on your phone? Why not? Can I play Brick Breaker on your phone? Why not? Can I play Solitaire on your phone? Why not? Stop touching me! I’m going to throw up. She put her foot on my seat! Ouch! She bit me! I’m bleeding! Did you bring any Band-Aids? Are they Spider Man Band-Aids? Do you have any Hulks? Are we there yet? Where are we going?
That my three children are still alive is a testament to the gracious goodness of their mother.
But when I fail, I do so spectacularly. Like the time my youngest, at two years old, woke up in the middle of the night.
Little Girl cried out in the wee hours of the morning. Mother was about to go deal with Little Girl's angst—again—when the older daughter's voice called: “It's all right, Little Girl. Go back to sleep.”
And Little Girl did!
The four-year-old has learned to take care of the two-year-old! Mother did a horizontal happy-dance in her bed, rolled over, and drifted blissfully back to sleep.
The next morning, however, when Little Girl tried to climb into bed with Mommy, Mommy discovered that Little Girl’s pajamas were damp and sticky, and she smelled. Bad.
Little Girl vomited all over herself in the middle of the night.
Mother had a talk with Daughter. “I applaud your nurturing skills, but did you know that Little Girl threw up last night?”
Daughter nodded. “Yes, I saw her.”
Mother suggested Daughter should wake Mommy when someone is sick.
Daughter explained. “I was afraid you'd yell.”
Someone please extract the poisoned dagger blade from my hemorrhaging heart.
I can just picture the scene: the two-year-old barfing all over the place, crying out for comfort in her sickness and anguish. And the four-year-old hushing her, shaking her little head, beseeching her younger sister, “Shh! Don’t wake Mommy! Just sleep in it! It’ll be better that way! Trust me!”
Incidentally, I've lost count of how many times people have told me that hearing stories about my parenting experience makes them feel so much better about themselves.
Awesome. Glad I can serve you all as a human “Who’s the Fairest of Them All?” mirror. (Well, the mirror replied, you may not be Mother Theresa, but at least you’re not THAT woman.)
So as our house gears up for another breakfast-in-bed, and the children design menus, pull out the good china, and search for folded white cloths to drape over their forearms, I will continue to try to be the mom I wish I were. The one who gives a towel, rather than a tirade, to the child who spilled his milk. The one who remembers that being a kid can feel more like trying to pen a novel in Gaelic calligraphy with your non-dominant hand than skipping down Drury Lane eating muffins, jellybeans, and gingerbread. The one whose children tell each other, “It’s okay, let’s ask Mom for help,” rather than, “Whatever you do, don’t let Mom find out about this.”
Because my greatest wish as a mom is that someday down the road, when my kids become parents, they’ll do it better than I did.
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