"fantastic, my girls are in preschool from 9-2."
don't think for a second i don't love to be around my girls, because i do. i love being their mama and i'm so glad God choose me to shepard them.
but a mama needs a break and a temporary single mama with a hubby deployed some 11 months, needs a break like an addict needs a fix.
i'm a better mama for the breaks i have built into our lives. on tues/thurs from 9-2 they go to our church's preschool and i volunteer from 9-12 helping people write a resume, and then wha-la, 2 free hours to myself! on monday from 9-12:30 our babysitter comes to the house and i serve the hungry through our church's food pantry.
breaks. adult interaction. serving the poor and hungry. yep, i'm a better mama for sure.
then there are days like today when i pick up the girls and need to go to an appointment and run errands (every time i tell kennedy we're going to run "errands" she thinks we're going to visit our friend Erin and when she doesn't get to see her, she *freaks* out!)
as a general rule, i used to NEVER take my children on errands. sure, we peruse parks, the mall play area, petting zoo, fair, sometimes other's homes, etc. but no, not grocery stores or post offices, rarely restaurants and definitely NOT a doctor's office.
if they have no experience going to these places, can i expect they'll behave?
so today we roll into the post office and immediately kennedy rummages through mailers, tape, and boxes as if its her personal art corner. i stand in line, waiting patiently (ha!) for my turn. i sit morgan down on the ground to play with kennedy so i could finish filling out the envelope. yes, kennedy, morgan definitely needs that box on her head. then i get called up, pick up morgan and wait...where's kennedy?
"kennedy, come back here. 1.....2....don't let mommy get to 3. kennedy, you're not going to get a treat." now sheer panic. where is she?
i dropped the envelope and apparently my place in line and alas, i found her opening the door to enter the back office as if she was ready to intern sorting mail. (why isn't the lever door locked?? gracious, these are the easiest handles for 2-year-olds!) "kennedy, come back here, put your hands on this sign and you'll get a sucker." listen to mommy, and i'll throw a bribe your way.
then, i get my customs form completed and hmmmm...i'm standing there at the counter while the postal workers are ushering people up to the counter from the line behind me. hmmm...hello, am i not standing at the counter? i said something like..."my form is complete now. do i have to go stand in line again to get service? this is CRAZY. i don't have time for this. clearly, i have my hands full." all in my best sarcastic voice. (kennedy now hanging from the counter like it's the bar at gymnastics.) awesome.
even more awesome?
i finally coax my 2-year-old back to me after she was allegedly opening and closing PO boxes in the corner (again, why aren't these locked?) and i say to her, "come on kennedy. we have to wait in line again because life's not fair." and when i get to the end of the line, i look up and i'm standing behind....an elder in our church. a man who i adore, and along with several others on mondays, we serve the hungry together. yep, awesome moment alright!
while turning red from utter embarrassment, i explained to him how i don't take my kids anywhere because of THIS. THIS. (now kennedy is trying to climb up the metal detector.) awesome.
he insists i go in front of him and he was probably the only nice person to me today when faced with my active children. so thankful for him, but so embarrassed by my little hissy i threw.
kennedy announces she is hungry so we drive thru chick-fil-a. after that post office bloodbath, i completely abandon my 7 fast and suck down a fresh-squeezed lemonade. for a moment, while drinking that lemonade, i thought, we'll make it; this day can't possibly get any worse. yep, i broke my 7 fast. crap. thankfully, tomorrow is a new day.
then onto the doctor's office where i got smart this time and constrained them to a double stroller. my oldest daughter likes to squeal (read: scream loudly) and when walking through the outpatient doctor office doors, she hits a high note like a professional opera singer. people stare. and roll their eyes. i can see this out of the corner of my eye, remarkably as i bend my body over with my butt holding one door and my outstretched arm opening the other to get a double wide stroller through. (i want to kill the inventor of the double stroller or these double doors at this point. not sure who; i'll toss a coin.)
never mind people, just sit and stare at us and roll your eyes. i've got this.
more freakin' out, begging for another sucker, and general terror when the nurse placed a blood pressure gadget on my arm. luckily that appointment didn't take long so the bloodbath of the post office wasn't quite repeated. we only left a few drops.
the bad days are mounting this week. all without my coffee addiction of course.
perhaps i'm traumatized by yesterday's memory of bath time, where my 11.5 mo old threw up on me and the changing table while i got her undressed, and then at the end of bath time, my 2.5 year old announced she pooped on the tub mat once the water drained out because i was taking to long getting morgan dressed. after i put them to bed last night, i did a calculation of how many days, hours, minutes and seconds i had left before ken comes home. that's exactly how long i can endure the single-parent'ness of it all. not a second longer.
our last stop was target because i'm a glutton for punishment. admittedly, i'm not grunge enough to use wet paper towels to wipe my kids' butts. because this is the forth time they've been in a crazy-large push cart that should probably be illegal, i've wised up to kennedy's urges to hit or kick morgan right next to her. plus morgan is about to have a MAJOR freak out because she is so tired.
securely in her infant carrier, i place morgan in the basket. and kennedy rides solo in the side-by-side compartment/driving cart. the problem? no room for anything. i try to balance organic fruit/veggie pouches, wipes, bread and paper plates around morgan without suffocating her. it was dicey. handing the $1 pumpkin candy holder for trick-or-treating to kennedy was a fantastic idea. she threw it down no less than 43 times. the smart mama would have put it back on the shelf.
when i paid the $125 bill (how do 3 bags of that = that?), i was never so exhausted. and i was so glad to be done. i immediately called in a togo order at chili's. i just had nothing left. this mama was definitely not cooking. (and i ordered a 7 approved meal; grilled chicken sandwich, plain, with avocado slices on a whole wheat bun with a side of sweet potato fries just plain please.)
i called my friend back who had called as we were rolling into the doctor's office. i wondered if she was traumatized by me answering the phone earlier with "hey, it's a f%$#ing crazy time and i can't talk. i'll call you back." truth is, i knew she could handle my blunder.
we made our plan for a 24-hour getaway to a women's retreat tomorrow with her grandma's church. we almost broke out into simultaneous hallelujah at the thought of leaving our families; not necessarily the fantastic teaching we'll experience. we were in agreement--we just need a break. never mind that i just returned from a 11-day vacation less than a month ago.
on the drive to pick up our takeout, i got to thinking about my girls not knowing how to act in a store or restaurant. the fact is they don't know because they haven't been given the opportunity. did you know how to ride a big-girl bike as soon as your parents placed you on the awkward-shaped seat? did you know how to play an entire song when you sat down at the black and white keys for the first time?
in order to be good at something we need practice.
so be warned river valley area, the schwalbe girls will be on the lose. i'm gonna use your town as practice turf so when we move to SD in a couple months, we'll be able to go anywhere with ease minus the exorcist-like meltdowns. but, of course.
i wonder how many people try with Jesus only to give up from massive failings?
too many people rolling their eyes, staring and not opening doors.
where's the community of so-called christians rallying around you, the new person to the Jesus club. if you are one who has tried this Jesus thing and have found zero camaraderie and support, i'm so very sorry.
i'm asking you...give it another chance.
find a community who accepts authenticity and dismisses the christian facade of living behind the veil of everything's perfect.
surely Jesus was right when he said we'd have trouble in this world. it's not our intended home. you're going to have bad, unglued days and the older and more mature we become, the less these days stain our lives. the more practice we have, the less unglued we will be. (and i've heard 7+ year olds can behave fairly well at Target, of course with the threat of being grounded for life if they flop around on the store floor.)
Jesus' mercies are anew each morning and He loves us regardless. REGARDLESS. we can come to Him at the end of a day like i had and say:
here are my bruises, hurts, bloodstains, marks, and wounds from today, Jesus.
He's already died for all of them and tomorrow He'll give me (and you) a new day.
a new HOPE.
a fresh new canvas on which you get to paint tomorrow's picture.