Monday, September 1, 2014

learning new songs in the wilderness of motherhood

Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth, 
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
-Hosea 2:14-15

The boys in the days after the B&N ban

Back when the boys were one year-old, two years-old, and three years-old, I banned us from the book store Barnes & Noble.

The ban was enacted after one of the hardest days of my life unfolded in that store.

We had eaten at Sonic for lunch, and arrived at B&N armed with new motorcycles from the kids' meals. After walking through the doors we headed straight for the train table set up in the kids' area. This was one of our favorite outings: Mommy read a book while the boys played and socialized.

My oldest had just become potty-trained.

If a newly potty-trained toddler says he needs to go to the bathroom, you run to the closest toilet you can find. 

Here's the first thing I learned during our stay at B&N that day: When a one year-old and a two year-old have to leave Thomas the Train to go to the bathroom with their older brother five times in a two hour period, the screaming intensifies each time.

The second thing I learned was this: Mommy has a hard time carrying two screaming toddlers to the potty and helping a third toddler get on the potty, while attempting to maintain her patience and her dignity.

After the fifth trip to the bathroom, we were all miserable. I decided we should just go home.

The third lesson of the day was: Leaving to go home is ten times worse than Having to go to the bathroom.

I walked out of B&N carrying one flailing, screaming boy under one arm, another under the other, as the third boy wailed and marched along behind me. The agony was intensified when one boy realized he had left his brand new motorcycle inside. After the humiliating exit we had made, I was unwilling to re-enter the store for the motorcycle, because I knew if we didn't find it our re-exit would be catastrophic.

That's when I lowered the edict: No more Barnes & Noble. I was sad to do it, but I knew it would rarely go better than it had that day now that one child was potty-trained and they were all three in the season of toddler meltdown management.

We stayed home a lot for the next few years. No bounce house trips were made. No Chick Fil A playscape lunches were enjoyed. One woman can only do so much with three willful little people. 

At first it seemed like a wilderness. We were stuck. We were deprived of a lot of fun. I felt badly for my children who were missing out. I felt guilty that my ability to manage our circumstances was not more honed. I felt sorry for myself a bit, too.

But it was in that lonely place of motherhood that God spoke tenderly to me. He called me out of my sadness and reminded me of His plan. He gave me hope that I was not only surviving my season of little children, I was molding them for a future I could not see. 

I learned to embrace the pain of my current circumstances, knowing that they passed through the hand of the Almighty. And I comforted myself with the thought that every season ends eventually.

We lifted the ban a couple of years ago. Barnes & Noble can once again be enjoyed by us all. My children ask me to tell the horrific tale of our last day at B&N regularly. They think it is hilarious. 

I tell it and smile at the details of their screaming now. The pain of the day is gone for me. 

When I look back, I only see God's goodness in that humiliating walk out of the store that day. He led me to the end of myself so that I could know Him more deeply.

In the wilderness of motherhood I learned to sing again.

1 comment:

  1. Omg!! This one made me laugh AND cry at the same time! I pictured myself walking out of that store the same way as it's happened many times, minus the one child crying behind me. You are amazing, Carrie. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with world. Even if this was just for me, which I know I'm not the only one, I greatly appreciate it. Keep 'em coming!