It has been one of those days. I woke up early enough to have my quiet time with God which usually makes for a better, brighter day. No so today. I really needed to drop the kids off at Mothers' Day Out, go home and crawl back under the covers. Since I teach Mothers' Day Out, however, that was not to be. My little pupils were great today; I was just really tired. So at the end of the day, I felt like I needed a nap or at least some "me" time with a relaxing cup of tea.
Have I mentioned that my children are two and three years old? I don't get a lot of "me" time. And Baby Girl was in a mood when I picked her up today. Not hostile or angry. She was very pleasant about the fact that she was unwilling to do anything that I asked her to do. By the time we got to the car she had earned a consequence. Baby Boy got a pack of Dora fruit snacks, but she had none. As I was explaining to her that her brother had made a good choice by listening and that Baby Girl had made a bad choice by not and therefore there would be no fruit snacks for her, she took my face firmly between her hands, looked me straight in the eye, and said earnestly, "Mommy, stop talking!" Yes, it has been that kind of a day.
The last thing I wanted to do was go grocery shopping. I did, however, want a hot, yummy meal tonight and as we are on a budget it seemed wise to cook it myself. I did not want to go to our local Walmart (just a personal preference) but in the interest of time and budget, I decided to bite the bullet and go. Both kids were feeling a little tired and cranky, which always makes a trip to the store extra special. I shopped for an hour in a crowded and hectic store. I managed to do all of this without yelling at either child. I was praying a lot.
Finally, I was in the home stretch. The check out line. Both children were contained and behaving relatively well. I managed not to get irritated at the person in front of me who really had every right to buy fifty eight cans of Fancy Feast which had to be rung up individually. I unloaded my items onto the belt, fished out my wallet and looked for my debit card. And looked again. And again...
After apologizing to the very nice check out lady, I pushed my cart, empty except for my wiggly two children, to the parking lot with tears in my eyes. I know I'm not alone in this feeling. Those days when, although nothing catastrophic happens, you just feel worn down to the nub. It is tempting to start an inner monologue that sounds a little something like this: "I just can't do this anymore. It's too much. I'm too tired. I need a break." Sound familiar? There are others available too. Angry ones. Like it is someone else's fault, perhaps even my kids', that I left my card in the back pocket of yesterday's jeans. The thoughts that make it clear somebody is going to pay for how hopeless we feel.
I choose to turn my thoughts to God instead. Every time something similar to those thoughts above popped into my mind, I would gently tell it "no" and pray instead. I loaded up the kids in the car, trying my best to explain why we left behind the bananas they were asking for. I took a deep breath and thanked God that I have choices. Lots of them. And the ability to choose what is right.
Because I didn't have to be angry about what had just happened. As tired as I was I didn't have to yell at my kids. I didn't have to curse either on the inside or the out. I could take a moment and give thanks. I could realize what a privilege it was to be able to go to that annoying store, to load up all that food, and to have the means to pay for it if not the immediate ability. I drove home reflecting on the two wonderful characters strapped into their car seats, slowly but surely getting over their banana disappointment.
The Bible says not to grumble or complain about anything. How tall an order is that? But we can do it or God wouldn't ask us to. It also tells us to focus our thoughts on lovely things. It was hard to find something lovely about my fruitless trip to Walmart, but I did it. And what I found was within myself. I focused on who I am in Christ. The old me would have been horrible today. I would have been nasty to my kids ever since picking them up. The Walmart trip would have been the straw that broke the camel's back and I would have been unbearable to live with, not just on the way to the car, but all evening long. I would have taken all of my fatigue and all of my frustration out on my family and then justified it by my mood.
I'm not my mood. I'm better than my mood, because I have the light of Christ within me. I came home already feeling brighter. I did not feel up to another trip to the grocery store and the kids were already hungry. So I raided the freezer and scored some chicken nuggets. I stirred up some Tang and called it juice. Perfect parenting? Hardly. But my kids are happy and that makes me smile.
My husband just called to ask if I would like for him to take me out to dinner this evening. I would and I'm glad I wasn't cooking when he called. I feel like God is smiling at me right now which really makes it all so worthwhile. Sitting here, listening to two hyped up kids making a big mess and failing to share their toys, I don't feel tired or overwhelmed. I feel happy, a warm, secure kind of happiness from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. What can I say? It has been one of those days.