It's real classy at my house this evening. I'm sitting in an unmade bed eating tater tots, having a moment of quiet and wondering how I even got here. It's been a day of struggles. There was bickering among siblings, spilled paint, spilled coffee, tears over school work, lost Gi's, and a mad scramble to drop shoe less kids off at Aikido, all punctuated by the irrational tantrums of the 2 year old, who's communication skills are similar to a squawking parakeet.
Usually Tuesday evenings are my time to get away, recharge my batteries somewhere quiet with good food, and write for a few hours, or join some friends to talk about books. Tuesday evenings are my lifeline. But tonight, it didn't work out. My husband worked late, so I made an easy dinner for the kids: hot dogs and tater tots. By the time he made it home, everyone was still screaming, bickering, tattling, and I had already apologized for yelling for the umpteenth time. I raised the white flag of surrender, and shut myself away in our bedroom with one of the kid's unfinished plates of food. Classy.
It's here, in this quiet space, that a voice of condemnation always seems to clear her throat and remind me that these years are going by fast. I'll want this time back. How could I raise my voice at such beautiful children, and want to get away from them? etc. And a heavy weight of guilt for not loving every second of this season sinks over me before I can even rouse my mind to fight back.
You've probably seen different quotes or pictures drifting around online reminded young moms to love these years, or you've heard the essence of the message summed up in the phrase, "The days are long but the years are short." I am young, and my experience as a mom is only slightly over ten years. I do not yet have the distance or wisdom many older women in my life possess, who tell me the years will slip like sand through my fingers. But for me, that phrase and those reminders only enhance my sense of guilt. That I must be doing something wrong, by wanting to run away sometimes. What I do know with every fiber of my being, is what it's like to be here, on a messy, loud, disaster of a Tuesday. And I'm thankful that the sun is sinking low, that soon there will be a hush in our home, this day will be done, and we will get to try this again. "Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"~ L.M. Montgomery
I want to document this night, so that when I'm past this season and my babies are grown, I have evidence beyond my blurred, rosy memory and Instagram pictures. That on the microscopic level, on this Tuesday, motherhood was hard and exhausting, and it's OK. There is room for struggle and frustration here too. Because it's in the hard days that the sanctifying is happening. It's in the struggle, that we become more real. With each apology, and forgiveness given, grace taken and received, there is a sanding down of sharp edges, a shaping of a soul that looks more like Jesus.
Anne Voskamp writes in The Broken Way,"Real living doesn't always feel like living; it can feel like you're dying. It can feel like you are breaking apart and losing pieces of yourself--and you are. Because when you let yourself love, you let parts of you die. Or you aren't really loving. You must let your false self be broken, parts of you that you only thought were necessary. You must embrace union with Christ, bravely surrender and trust that what's breaking and being lost is never the eternal, needed parts of you, but always the temporal, needless parts that were getting in the way of you becoming real."
This breaking of the false self can feel a lot like this messy Tuesday. Becoming more like the image of Christ in the day to day is not without pain. Often times my flesh wants to hide away somewhere, pop another tater tot in my mouth and justify my self pity, when God has called me to the harder choice. He's called me to faithfulness, no matter how rotten the day may have been. He's called me to humble myself, one more time. Apologize one more time. Because these tiny acts of obedience are a death in a way, and a resurrecting of something new, something beautiful. I'm reminded of the Velveteen Rabbit and how worn and thin I feel on certain days, and yet, in willing surrender to love I am transformed.
"You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." ~Margery Williams The Velveteen Rabbit
I kiss my babies goodnight just as they are drifting off to sleep. "Love you's" are murmured, and as I slip from their rooms, my oldest calls out, "Let's have a better day tomorrow."
New mercies in the morning. I rest in that tonight. A new day to try again, to stumble, apologize, receive grace. Another day of sanctifying, of chipping away, as I slowly take on the shape of real.