“Just hang on a minute, kids. I need walk a few laps around the backyard, and I’ll be right back.”
“I just need to walk out to the mailbox. Try not to feed your 4-month-old sister any marbles while I’m gone.”
We moms understand the need to escape from our kids from time to time. Even if it’s just for a few short minutes. We might take the time to apply blush AND eyeliner one morning, just to gain a few more minutes of peace before venturing into the land of Lego’s or Elmo. Or we spend an extra long time washing our hands after using the restroom. We just really want to make sure they’re clean.
For me, yesterday morning, I just “couldn’t decide” on an outfit to wear for the day, and needed to “hang out” in my walk-in closet for a few minutes in order to decide. Hudson was having a particularly bad day. He was refusing to eat breakfast or lunch, was screaming every time his 2-year-old brother got within 5 feet of him, and was following me around like a piece of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe, screaming, “Mommy! Mommy!” With four kids ages 4 and under at home (including one set of newborn twins), I feel like I am constantly dealing with kids who need something right away. They can’t wait for a second. Everything is a huge deal to them, and yesterday, all of the screaming and whining had taken its toll on me.
So, there I was, hiding in the perfect serenity of my closet, taking my time as I surveyed each article of clothing, trying to “find something to wear,” while secretly wishing I could bore a hole in the floor and escape, kid-free, to the mall for a while. Ah, the mall. I could almost taste the Dippin’ Dots when, suddenly, I heard my bedroom door fly open, followed closely by a shrill scream and the words “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” I bit my lip in frustration.
I thought I was so perfectly hidden in here! How did he find me? Doesn’t he know that I just need a few minutes without someone tugging on my leg or needing to nurse or spitting up on my new silk skirt, or asking for juice, or spilling my coffee on the carpet floor, or crying because his graham cracker “fell” behind the couch.
I squeezed my fists together, clinched my teeth, and let out a silent scream before kindly answering, “What, Hudson?”
“Mommy, I need some milk and some snack and I need my Leap Pad and my Hex Bug needs batteries and I need a waffle. With peanut butter on it.”
“Drat! He’s found my hiding place!” I wanted to scream! “Give a girl a break! I just want to spend three minutes alone, hiding inside my closet. Is that too much for a grown woman to ask?” I thought.
Ensue loud screaming, dramatic flinging onto the ground, and about 25 rounds of “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”
As I let out another not-so-silent scream, the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit stopped me dead in my tracks. “He just needs YOU today.”
“What on earth do you mean? Believe me, he HAS me! He has me every minute of every day! I quit my career to say at home with them. I go almost nowhere and I work tirelessly to take care of every little need that my kids might have. I am well aware of the fact that he needs me!”
“No. He needs YOU.”
I thought about it for a minute, and realized that I had been away from Hudson, at several meetings, for the past few nights in a row. And, ever since having twins in October, I’ve been less able to spend one-on-one time with him the way I used to. I suddenly knew what I needed to do.
I walked out of the splendid solitude of the closet, ran to my little man, and hugged the heck out of him. I squeezed him as tightly as I could, and I told him how proud I was of him, how much I appreciated him, and a few of the things I really love about him.
Hudson grinned and then contentedly walked away, as happy as could be. For the rest of the day, he was on his best behavior—a total 180-degree shift from the way he was behaving only minutes before.
I stood there in disbelief. “What just happened?” I thought to myself.
The gentle voice of the Holy Spirit came again. “Now, that was easy, wasn’t it?”
I wanted to cry, just thinking about how I wanted to react to my fussy child. I wanted to yell at him and tell him to stop whining. I wanted to discipline his behavior without trying to figure out why the behavior was happening. And I sure as heck wanted him to get out of my closet!
But, even though I didn’t deserve His help, the Holy Spirit knew exactly what I needed to do at exactly the right time. Just as a radio station is always broadcasting, but you must tune into the station in order to hear the music, the Holy Spirit is always talking, ready to give us the keys we desperately need in order to raise our kids. All we need to do is tune in.
There are always so many things gnawing at me throughout each day—things that I know I should be doing with my kids. Things they should be learning. Things they should and shouldn’t be eating. Milestones they should be meeting. Experiences they should be having. Do they feel enough love and attention from me? How can I treat each kid as an individual—with unique needs, giftings, and desires? You know, really important things! Things that my kids might or not might talk to their therapists about in 30 years, depending on the way I handle them today! And yet, with 4 little kids, I feel like I’m constantly reacting to their basic needs (diapering, feeding, sleeping, kissing boo-boos, cleaning up messes, etc.), that I don’t have much time left over to tackle the seemingly HUGE parenting challenges in front of me. It’s overwhelming, to say the least. It’s easy to feel like a giant failure when I haven’t been able to check anything off my list in a given day, though I was busy all day and all night, taking care of my kids’ basic needs. It also feels like an insurmountable task to try to accomplish any big goals, when I’m spending all my time wiping noses, breaking up cat-fights between my 2 and 4 year-olds, nursing babies, and picking up 100 types of mysterious sticky substances from the kitchen floor.
But, this simple experience that I had yesterday, when the the Holy Spirit spoke so simply and so perfectly, reminded me of how God doesn’t want me to be stressed out each day. He knows exactly what I should and shouldn’t be focused on in any given day. And guess what? He also has instructions on how I can accomplish those things. Unique instructions that take into account my specific situation.
I’ve just got to tune my dial to His frequency. To His voice.
Ok, Holy Spirit. What do YOU think I need to work on today? And how can YOU help me do it?