From my book, I”m Going to be the Greatest Mom Ever…Even if it Kills Me! ©2001 and ©2006 Multnomah Publishers
Have you ever secretly identified with the women who just “up and leave” their families, who are gone without a trace? When people say, “How could a mom ever do such a thing?” have you ever thought to yourself, I wonder if that will be my story on the news someday?
As much as I hate to admit it, I have imagined myself walking down the airport terminal destined for a place of peace, tranquility, and simplicity.
I seem to want to escape to a deserted island particularly when I have a nearly two-year-old in the house. I have been training the babe since birth to obey my every command, and then suddenly the child looks me in the eye and says, “NO!” That’s my ticket. I do not like hearing the word “no” from my child. It means only one thing. It means there is going to be a test, and I better come out with an A+ or I might as well board the plane.
Ashley was very compliant as a toddler. Then Christi came along and corrupted her. I think Christi would whisper into Ashley’s ear what the next “plan” was. Christi and Ashley often put me to the test, and many times I failed.
When Christi and Ashley were two and three-years old, we had just moved to a new town. Ten days before we moved, I had Cathy by C-section. The doctor instructed me I was not to go up or down any stairs for six weeks. For some reason we rented an apartment with stairs. It was a tiny apartment. You know the kind—you can sit on the couch on one side of the room and change channels on the television without a remote from the other side of the room.
While we lived in the apartment Ashley and Christi pretty much had the run of the house—literally. Whenever they wanted to disobey me, they would just bolt up the stairs because they knew I could not run after them. Needless to say, I lost their respect very quickly.
Finally we purchased a house and mom could now run! I decided it was time to once again lay down the law. In the apartment, the kids just played all day instead of taking naps because I didn’t have the energy to make them go to bed.
My first tactic to regain my post as commander in charge was to reinstitute naptime. The first day of the new naptime is one Mommy Memory that I will never forget. It was definitely a “buy me a one-way ticket” day. I tucked the girls into their beds and quietly closed the door. A few minutes later as I walked by their room, I could hear a squeaking noise. I opened the door and there were two very happy children jumping on their beds, trying to touch the ceiling. I scolded them and told them to get back in their beds. They got back under the covers, so I closed the door. This time I stood outside the door and listened. A few seconds later I heard giggling and squeak, squeak, squeak.
I threw open the door and screamed. “Girls, get back in bed or else I’m going to…” “Kill” was the only word I could think of at the moment. Instead of taking me seriously, they just laughed at me and continued to jump. I was quickly overtaken with a desire to hurt them. I left them jumping as I ran out of the room crying.
I knew at that moment I needed a one-way ticket. I had had it with being a mommy. Not only was I sleep-deprived from taking care of a newborn, I couldn’t even make two little girls take a nap. I felt my life was spinning wildly out of my control. I was so desperate, I called a crisis hotline. Can you believe the person who answered the hotline told me there was no one available to talk to me? She told me to phone 911. So I did.
Now I must tell you I did not know anything about child training at the time. The only way I knew how to make my children obey was through anger. When I phoned 911, the dispatcher asked me if I had a gun. I was stunned by the question. “I don’t want to kill them. I just want them to take a nap.” I said.
“We’ll send someone right over,” she said. Two police men came and checked out everything. Basically they told me they didn’t think I was at risk of actually harming my children. I was just under a lot of stress.
They called a pastor and asked him to visit with me. I didn’t want to visit with a pastor. I just wanted a one-way ticket to the Bahamas. Well, the pastoral visit was actually good for me, and I cancelled my plans for a lifetime getaway.
Sometimes the most trivial tasks (such as washing the dishes) can turn into “one-way ticket” days . One morning I had forgotten to buy soap for the dishwasher, so I told Ashley to use some Tide instead. Soon after she turned it on, the dishwasher began to sound “funny.”
I pondered what I should do but then thought, It’s not like you turn off an appliance every time it makes a funny sound. And if I turn it off, I will have to do all the dishes by hand!
I continued to let it run. Boy, did it run—all over the floor. Suds and water were pouring out all over the carpet that I had spent “hours” cleaning a few days earlier.
I ran into the laundry room for some dirty towels and squished them up under the dishwasher, continuing to let it run. I just kept telling myself, I am not going to wash all those dishes by hand!
As I was kneeling on the floor, trying to “will” the water to stop pouring all over the floor, I began pitying myself. I hate this job! I’m sick of wet, smelly carpet. I hate having carpet in the kitchen. I began feeling all alone in a house of ten. I began thinking of all the “things” that I do like washing dishes, dirty clothes, fixing breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every single day. I wash hair and little pink bottoms. I wash windows, mirrors, and toilets. I am constantly cleaning messes that I never make.
I was having a major case of PPMS (Poor Pitiful Me Syndrome). Then I began to think of all the things that I really wanted to do, but never got a chance to do, like sitting all afternoon reading a book on the couch, driving anyplace I would like to go without having to make babysitting arrangements. I even considered where I would go with my “one-way ticket.”
Being the household janitor wasn’t my vision of being a wife and a mom. My vision seemed a little happier, a little less messy, with a lot fewer things going wrong to mess up everything.
Then a realization hit me like a ton of bricks: Being a servant to my family is where the Lord wants me. He wants me to spend my time serving my family. He wants me to die to myself and serve them, thereby serving Him!
Before the dishwasher episode, the Lord had been trying to get my attention. Several times while I was driving alone in my van, all of a sudden I would be overwhelmed with a feeling that I needed to pull over, get out of my car, and get on my face before God.
Now, do you think I obeyed the Lord? No, I didn’t. The sheer craziness of the idea held me back; however, I could have gone straight home, found a place to be alone with God and gotten on my face then and there. But as soon as I walked in the door there would be groceries to put away, kids who needed to be fed, and housework that needed to be done. Falling on my face before the Lord would somehow just escape my mind. Because I failed to listen in the quiet moments, the Lord had to use an overflowing dishwasher to get my attention. There I was on my hands and knees crying my heart out to God as water poured out of the dishwasher, and a two-year-old climbed on my back yelling, “Moooommmmyyyyy!” I began to cry.
“What do you want me to do, Lord?” I moaned.
His reply was so loud it sounded as if He was right next to me. He said, “I want you on your knees! I don’t care if you’re wearing a skirt or jeans. I want you on your knees! It doesn’t matter if you’re tired or overwhelmed. I want you on your knees! Broken dishwasher, plumbing problems, “tantrumming” toddlers, soaked kitchen carpet doesn’t matter. I want you on your knees!”
It was at that moment, I got on my face before Him. I begged Him to change my attitude. I asked Him to show me how to serve my family in a more godly way. I pleaded with Him to come in and wash all the filth out of me. As I lay there weeping, He spoke His Word to me.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land…” (Isaiah 1:18-19)
I thanked the Lord for hearing my prayers and secretly hoped He would see fit to bless me with a round-trip ticket to the Bahamas.