I am tired today.
One of those, can’t-keep-your-eyes-open and patience-is-thread-thin kind of tired.
Turns out, it’s hard to parent on tired days. Correction, it’s hard to parent well on tired days. I more quickly turn to the infamous “count to three” and get frustrated when my newly-awake two year old doesn’t act like an adult.
“Come on Mo, we’re going to have pancakes and a banana for breakfast.”
“No. Mo no happy. Mo read.”
“No, Love-Bug. We’re going to eat now, please get into your chair.”
“No! Mo no happy! Mo book!”
“Monica, get into your chair.”
Correction, I get frustrated with myself when I’m tired and can’t act like an adult. Because, turns out, arguing with a two year old will get you absolutely nowhere.
In these moments of frustration (if I’m not feeling too sorry for myself), I try to pray. This is about as far as I get:
Hail Mary, full of…
*Noise from Lu’s monitor while we’re sitting at the breakfast table*
“Mama! Baby awake!”
“Yes my love, I hear her”
“Yes Mo, I’ll pick her up now”
…full of Grace. The Lord is with…
“Mama, Baby Lu poop?!”
“Probably Mo. Please eat your breakfast.”
…with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women…
*Walk down the hall, pick up cooing baby* “Aw, good morning Luci-Lu!”
What was I doing? Oh, yeah. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of…
“Yay! Baby awake! Yay! Baby coo!!”
“Yes Mo. Please, please Mo, eat your pancake! Where’s your banana?”
“Bubble eat banana.”
*Look under table, see kitten eating dropped banana.*
“Arrg! Mo! That was the last banana! No more banana for you.”
“Wah!!! Mo want banana!”
*Cue hunger-induced tantrum at kitchen table. Frustratedly look for a different fruit to feed her.*
“Mo, would you like a plum?”
“NOOOOO! MO WANT BANANA!”
“Mo! Stop yelling!”
“MO! STOP YELLING!”
*heavenly nudge* Whoa there Caitlin. You’re yelling at Mo to stop yelling. Deep breath. Where was I again? Oh well, start over:
Phew. Maybe throw in a speed Our Father or two.
And you know what? Even if I can just get out “Our Father” or “Hail Mary” I still feel better. I still feel calmer. I yell less, love more. I think it’s the act of removing myself from my giant pity party.
A pity-party is so easy to start. I just have to be tired (a permanent state for now) or look at the dishes in the sink, the tantrum-throwing daughter, the unfolded clothes on the couch, the toys on the floor, maybe I even step on one and mutter a not-so-quiet curse word.
I turn inward. Selfish.
Poor, poor pitiful me.
Then, like the banana episode, sometimes there comes a gentle *nudge*.
A different day, during a massive feel-sorry-for-myself-fest I had a prayer/conversation that went a little something like this:
Stop it, He says. You are blessed. Give thanks.
But I don’t wanna, I whine.
Too bad. It’s the truth. You know it is. Give thanks, He says.
But this is hard. Life’s unfair. I didn’t sign up for this!
Sign up for what? Your life? You’re right. I gave it to you. I blessed you with It. I have also blessed you with Mo and Lu’s lives. See their smiles. Hear their giggles. Give thanks.
Oh. Yeah. They are pretty cute. (I’m not my wittiest during God-talk).
I know. I made them that way for a reason: to break through the mundane, to break through the depression and the pain. To be marvelous and beautiful and breath-taking. Rejoice! Give thanks!
Ok. Thank you, I whisper.
So, will being a mother get easier, now that we’ve had this chat?
No. It will be hard. Every day it will be hard. Every day you must fight self-pity because motherhood is the opposite of selfishness. It is sacrifice.
That doesn’t sound like much fun.
Look at Lu’s smile. Listen to Mo talking. Of course it is fun. Of course it is rewarding. But motherhood is also thankless. So, in contrast, YOU must give thanks. Give thanks all the time. Pray without ceasing. I will hear you. Even if, between all the frustrating two year old behaviors, all you say is “God” I know the intentions of your heart. Give thanks. I will be there. And I will pull you from your pit of selfishness.
Oh, and don’t forget My Mother. Not much about baby raising has truly changed in 2,000 years. Those speed Hail Marys will get you through, every time.
See? I knew you’d get it.
My own mom said something profound to me, right before I got married.
“Caitlin, I know people will tell you the number one killer of marriages is money. But it’s not.”
Quizzical look from me?
“It’s keeping score and the resulting self-pity and resentment. Nothing in marriage is even. Don’t fall into that pit. Love and give thanks instead.”
Never have truer words about marriage or life been spoken (well, I don’t really know that, but it’s been pretty profound for me).
So I look at the unwashed dishes, the dirty floors, the laundry, the angry child and I don’t resent my children. I don’t resent my husband. I try to give thanks instead.
But I try.
And it sure beats arguing with a two year old…
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MO WANT BANANA!”