Huddled in the corner of a stall in the women’s room, trying to stifle my sobs until the two other women left the room. That’s not how I intended to spend the first part of our church service on Sunday. It’s not how I pictured motherhood for that matter. However, that morning had broken me.
If you’re the mother to a three year old and a baby (or ever have been), you know this morning. The morning in which there is no listening, no obedience, no cooperation, and no peace. Your big kid pesters the baby, runs screaming through the house, bounces on the furniture, and makes All. The. Bad. Choices. And your baby? She needs to be held, won’t stop crying, cannot save herself from her brother, and pooped in the diaper that you JUST CHANGED. Oh, and you forgot to feed her. And yourself. Where is your coffee? The three year old just dumped it. On the couch. Or the rug. At this point—it doesn’t really matter anymore.
Ten years ago, if someone had described this morning to me? My twenty-something self would have smugly assured herself that there was obviously a lack of discipline in that house.
The problem? Sometimes I still feel that way. On mornings like this one, the easiest thing in the world to believe is that you’re doing it all wrong. And I felt that way—one hundred percent. That feeling hits especially hard for someone like me who tends to pride herself on being strong and not particularly caring what other people think. However, my head hung low, shoulders stooped, and arms wrapped around myself, I cried out my fears and frustrations. Worries about ruining my child ran rampant through my heart and mind.
As I heard the door close behind the last woman in the room, I let it all go. I sobbed. Loudly. Picturing the ugly cry? You got it. And then. That traitorous door creaked back open. I heard a voice—and not just any voice—the voice of the teacher who runs the class my son had just “graduated” from the Sunday before. “Are you ok in there?”
My shame flooded through me. But so did my desperate need for comfort and understanding. I unlatched the door and stepped out. In the mirror, I glimpsed a woman with reddened eyes and a tear-streaked face. I closed my eyes—it was just all too much. And that’s when I felt her arms go around me. As I cried like a child on her shoulder, I choked out the story of our morning. “I’m doing it all wrong. I’m just so afraid that I’m doing it all wrong!”
“Now. That is a lie from the pit of hell.”
Not expecting that response, exactly, I looked up—a bit surprised. “I do not believe there has ever been one ‘great’ mom who didn’t think—at one time or another—that she was a terrible mother who was ruining her kids.” She went on to tell me that I clearly loved my kids—and that so did she. It was such a relief to hear from someone else (who I knew had seen him on bad behavior) that my child was ok. That I was ok. It was all going to be ok. That we were loved. Even though, in my deepest heart, I know this—that reminder had the power to pull me back from the edge.
So, mama? If you’re living THAT DAY, I want you to hear me. You are not ruining your kid. You are not doing it all wrong. There is no way in this world that you’re the worst mother in the world. Don’t let that lie sneak into your soul. Remember that you are not alone. Remember this too shall pass. And one day, that day—the day that it was all just too much, you’ll see how that day became a part of of your story—and a part of the greater beautiful story of motherhood—which, like all good stories, has its highs and its lows. There are just days when it’s all too much. The best part is that tomorrow can be different.