With almost every activity we did in our three weeks in Europe (no, I didn’t mistype that: THREE weeks), I imagined what it would be like without kids. Ah, putting on my warm winter coat and hat before leaving the apartment would be so simple. I would just put it on and walk out the door. Riding on a train through the beautiful, deep Swiss Alps would soothe my soul. Eyes dreamily looking out on the scenery, closing them once and awhile to rest them and perhaps I would also drift off into a sweet little nap. The delicious glass of red wine would sit in one spot on the table unafraid of being spilled, and would be drunken slowly, savoring the flavor. What’s that, a bit of oak or a hint of citrus I taste?
You get the idea. I was craving this type of a trip. Wondering what it could be like….
Three weeks, day in and day out, is a long time to be with another human being. That’s a lot of concentrated people time. Even if the people you’re with are the people you love the most. Three weeks (did I mention it was a three week trip), is a huge chunk of time to be needed by two littles. Every hour (except for maybe a few angelic hours at night) there was a kid or a husband. No sane person is built that way, enduring endless hours of people/kid time. I’m not built that way. I need me, myself time! There were no friends to send our kids to play with. There wasn’t a school to take them to during the day. There wasn’t a babysitter to watch them while Ben and I went out on a date. I love my husband and my kids, but I don’t want to spend unbroken, highly concentrated time with them for three weeks--especially in a situation that is highly stressful (travel) and away from the comforts of a familiar home and community (let’s not forget that highly important factor).
With my short tempers and my harsh tone demanding Sophia return to sleep in response to a lost lovie at 3 a.m., among other such actions that I don’t care to string out here; I understood once again that I’m still needed by these kids of mine. That I still give. That I’m still a mother who is constantly sacrificing. But when does it end?!!! When do they stop?? Yes this is just a phase, although I’ve reminded myself of that at every phase, hoping the next phase would be the one where I would be needed less as their independence grew.
In the midst of writing this, sitting in our hotel room bathroom (the only place that I could shut myself away from the others), all of my pleas for liberation from my needy kids revealed to me how much of my heart doesn’t want to give or sacrifice. All of this—three weeks worth of reminders—has made it pretty clear how selfish I am. But not perhaps selfish in the sense that I’m the exception or that this is completely new news. It’s me recognizing how much I can’t and how much God can. Cliché right? It’s me saying, “thought I’d all ready learned to be humble and to serve my family.” But realizing it’s a continual thing. It’s an everyday thing. It’s where you’ve-been-needed-and-whined-at-for-three-solid-weeks-with-no-repreave and I’ve messed up and realized (again) my weaknesses and faults.
I have yet to meet a sacrificial mother in this stage of parenting that is not bothered by the pleas for help and the need to feed a child and then clean them up again and again and again. And I hope I never do. In fact, I’d say I probably never would, because they don’t exist. Raise your hand if you stand over here, on this side by me? You know, the side where no body is perfect? Raise ‘em high! Um-hum.
This is a tiring stage of parenting, and I know the valley of diapers will not last. But how revealing, wonderfully and humbly revealing this stage of parenting is. And what I say to this is, I need Jesus. I am that child who needs. But what’s super great is that God is God. And he doesn’t tire of me or wish I would just stop needing him. Ah, that’s it! That’s my conclusion. Now I just pray for change knowing that my heart will still be imperfect, but at least filled a bit more up with Jesus and His patience and His sacrificial love.