a lesson from my neighbor

If you’ve been following along on my Instagram you may have picked up on my insinuations that some days this mom-to-three gig ain’t easy.  Other days I’ll feel like I’ve really got it together and I’m pretty good at managing it all, but there are times when I am so overwhelmed and so discouraged.  I’d say most nights I go to bed with guilt.  I just love these babies so much and feel like I’m failing them a lot of the time.  I’m so impatient, so grumpy, so unmerciful.  Isn’t that sad?  That’s not what the Lord intended for me as a mother, I know that.  And a dear friend helped me remember that last night… Here’s the story:

John has been working late on campus lately so the boys and I packed up dinner last night and took it to him to enjoy some family time together (which is very important to us and our family culture).  Of course this magical vision of compassionate family time turned into me yelling at the boys to eat their food, get off the gross floor, quit running around the cafeteria, blah blah blah.  All the while while August was screaming.  I was UNRAVELLING, I tell you.  I have a problem of taking every naughty choice my babies make personally.  It’s like I resent them for being children sometimes.  Not really, of course, but I feel that way at my low points.  But I knew that John needed it, and I needed to be with him for me, so I stayed as long as he wanted us to, knowing, too, that all that awaited me at home was dreaded bedtime all by myself–all of this after a stretch of several days feeling overwhelmed.  I was just done, but couldn’t be.  You moms know what I’m talking about.  

So John walked us out to the car, helped me load up, then the screaming of the babies commenced as they realized their hero dad wasn’t coming home with us.  So I told John to just go and I’ll deal with the yells.  He gave them a few more hugs and kisses and secret handshakes and was off, of course being sympathetic to my plight.  And then we were too.  The short drive home seemed like forever, with loud yells (of laughter, but still, loud) from the back seat, too many questions, a fussy newborn and a grumpy mom.  Finally, we drove up to our complex and I started the lengthy process of unpacking all the babies.  I started with Charlie, then James.  They hopped out of the car and started skipping towards our door, having no clue how frustrated I was with them.  I walked around to the other side of the car to get August and ran into my sweet neighbor.  This woman is always happy and kind and always has a meaningful compliment to give you.  We started chatting and she started telling me how much she loved my boys. I was about to spit out some sarcastic quip about how they drive me crazy and how I was sorry she heard so much yelling through the walls, but before I could she confided in me:

“I’m so jealous of you,” she said.

I was stunned.  And then it hit me.  You see, this neighbor of mine has one son but continued to tell me how badly she wanted more.  She saw my situation–the one I’ve been explaining to you how difficult it is for me–as the one she longed for.  And I had it.  It was mine, in all it’s frustratingly beautiful glory.  And my heart grew three sizes that day.

Bedtime was different that night.  Sure, there was still chaos and disobedience, but there was much more mercy from me.  Much more perspective.  And so much more gratitude for my three precious babies.