We didn’t have any toilet paper in the house. And the boys needed haircuts. So I attempted to do both of these things during the lunch hour without thinking to pack snacks and drinks.
I might as well have said, “Hey boys, how can I help you fail today?”
They did awesome at the haircut place. So awesome, in fact, that I even preached a sermon on the drive to Target about how I was sure the Lord used their obedience and happy hearts to show barber Paul the love of God. What a good witness for Christ!
Then we headed into Target.
Happy Baby immediately announced he was thirsty. Happy Buddy wanted to visit the toy section. And mama got distracted in the dollar bins.
45 minutes later we were finally heading out of the store with 200 other things on top of the toilet paper (because TARGET). We had never made it to the water fountains, but I had let the boys each have one of those fruit squeeze packs. Problem solved.
As we were walking to the checkout counter my eyes landed on an item that I knew Happy Baby would LOVE. I had seen the item a long time ago, but then it had been out of stock for so long I figured it was never coming back. But there it was and there was only one.
It would make a great Christmas gift.
I had a brilliant idea! Happy Buddy could buy it and give it to his brother for Christmas! How sweet and loving!
But my mother’s instinct whispered, “Don’t do this right now. Wait and come back.”
I pushed that thought aside, though, thinking the item would be gone by our next Target visit.
So I told Happy Buddy the plan for Operation Get Brother His Christmas Gift. I told him to sneak back, grab the toy and hide it behind his back. Yay for brothers serving brothers and doing nice things for each other!
At this point my mother’s instinct was yelling, “ABORT MISSION!! THIS IS NOT GOING TO WORK! THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE MAGICAL!”
But brotherly love!!!
I pushed the cart with Happy Baby inside to the front of the store and we waited for Happy Buddy to meet us. The checkout lines were really long, so we had some time for Happy Baby to remember that he was thirsty.
This happened right around the same time that Happy Buddy returned and revealed to me how little he understood about how to hide a toy behind his back.
Happy Baby caught a glimpse of the toy and immediately starting crying out for it. I tried to block his view but to no avail. The damage had been done. He began to wail for the toy and things escalated quickly to DEFCON 1.
At this point, Happy Buddy realized that he had failed his super secret mission and my little perfectionist dissolved into tears alongside his brother. Happy Buddy wanted me to hold all 50 pounds of him and Happy Baby wanted the toy and the water and I wanted a Xanax.
I sent Happy Buddy away to return the toy (which obviously THRILLED Happy Baby) and I hurriedly tried to unload our items on the conveyor belt – only to discover that Happy Baby had accidentally squeezed his squeeze fruit pack all over several items in the cart. Good grief.
Everyone was crying, crying, crying, and my calm, peaceful, smile and attempts at conversation with the cashier was waning.
There was a young, single woman behind us in the checkout line witnessing the events unfolding around me and I could not help but wonder if this young, single woman was getting a glimpse of motherhood that was quite possibly affirming her calling to become a nun.
Why don’t they tell you about these scenarios in all the parenting books?! I needed wisdom!
I do not even know how we got out of the store alive.
The boys were repentant the instant they got in the car.
But mama was upset.
I was embarrassed by their behavior and mad at myself for not planning the outing better.
And I was struggling with the feeling I always have when my kids publicly melt – the feeling that I am FAILING somehow as a mom. I mean, I had just written a post about Raising Grateful Kids and now mine had just completely lost his lid over a thing. Who am I to write anything on parenting?
I also could not stop thinking about that woman behind me at the store who had witnessed such a catastrophic display of… life with kids. Of motherhood.
Of a hot mess in need of a Savior.
When we got home, I got Happy Baby ready for his nap, laid down next to him in his bed and Happy Buddy crawled in next to us.
We held each other and apologized and made things right. We prayed together and asked for forgiveness and grace and growth (especially me!).
The tensions dissolved as we hugged and snuggled and kissed and felt the joy of being restored.
Y’all – THIS IS MOTHERHOOD.
It’s messy. Imperfect. Hard. And sometimes embarrassing.
It’s humbling. Sanctifying. And often makes me want to take a nap.
But it’s beautiful and redemptive and filled with tender messages of the Gospel. It keeps me ever on my knees pursuing Jesus and how I can better serve my children and love them as He does. It breaks me, but strengthens me. It humbles me, but draws me to Christ.
Barber Paul saw the put together stuff and the woman at Target saw the stuff that would make good material for a Jimmy Fallon sketch.
Thanks be to God that He holds all this roller coaster of raising kids together.
I have no doubt that He is Lord over every moment and sovereign and good and my kids are not going to grow up to be criminals.
When I shared this story with a friend recently she said, “Julie, it’s like your life is one big giant blog post.”
YES. Perhaps the Lord allows these things in my life so that I can share them to either make you feel better about your life and kids (ha!) or perhaps I am prone to these moments of weakness and brokenness so that I cannot boast in myself, but rather in my great God whose grace is more than enough to give me (and you) strength to rise up tomorrow and do it all over again.
Except maybe this time I will bring snacks and a water bottle and JUST GET THE TOILET PAPER.
– Julie 🙂