#24: Threenager Battlefield

Our oldest just turned three, but she started acting like one weeks ago. A switch flipped. Suddenly, her favorite word was “No!” (Not just “no,” but “NO!”) She found her daddy and I slow dancing and said “Ew,” with her cocky-sixteen-year-old tone. When told to do something, she lies on the couch, one foot propped on the headrest, waving it around while we plead for cooperation warn her that there will be consequences for disobedience.

In other words, we have a threenager.

It’s a battlefield–complete with rage-induced war cries, flying spaghetti shrapnel, pizza-sauce bloodstains, cookie-dough cannons, psychological warfare, sleep deprivation, a salivatory appreciation for rarely-enjoyed delicacies, and a doctorate-level strategy requisite to make a chess champion blush.

And I will miss every moment of this–her spunky attitude, contagious giggles, and thirst for independence–when she’s grown up and gone.

 

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#15: Real-Life Parenting

It all started when I forgot the sunscreen. But in order to put this story in its proper context,  I need to start with Tuesday.

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Tuesday morning I had to take care of a $900 bill we don’t owe. Company A wants their moolah, and Company B keeps saying they’ll pay it after I fill out my 768th form, sign document #5,112, and call for the 118th time to update my information since their “system” conveniently keeps glitching and losing information just before pay-out time comes. Since both companies have bigger communication problems than Apollo 11 and NASA, I’m trying to fill the gap between the two before disaster strikes.

So Tuesday morning,  I’m preparing to drive to Company B. As soon as my feet touch the porch, it hits. That feeling in my gut that something isn’t going to go right.

Should I stay home,  God?

He didn’t say, so I decided to act before I heard Aerosmith’s Don’t Want to Miss a Thing playing in the background.

I get there and see three receptionists free and next to no other patrons, so I think, Hey, I might not be in here long after all.

I should’ve known that the receptionists’ rate of speed is directly proportionate to the number of clients on hand (think supply and demand), so only one receptionist is actively helping others, and she’s waiting 10-15 minutes after a client leaves to call the next one up.

At least I packed my art supplies. I got some hand lettering done.

I finally get help, and she needs something I wasn’t expecting. (Again with their “system” glitching.) She tells me she’ll call me that night, and I know she won’t, because–again–I am coordinating between Apollo and NASA.

The rest of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday goes bumpy. Company B still hasn’t called, my husband and I both got sick (who gets sick in June?!?), and I’ve got a pulled or torn hamstring (which really isn’t good when I remind everyone I have two kids under two). Also, I have numerous friends who want to get together, but I’m stuck at home because between working 50 hours a week, getting hurt, and having a cold, my husband hasn’t been able to switch our tires on one car to summer tires. I haven’t been able to, either, for the same reasons. It’s okay, we think. We’ll just keep that car at home so we don’t get a huge ticket for having studded tires on in June. (I don’t know how much, but I’ve heard it’s $10 PER stud.) We’ll have time to switch the tires next week.

Then Friday happened.

I was feeling blue, and I knew some time out in the sun would fix me up. So I took the kids out with me.

I was feeling great, until I realized I forgot the sunscreen. I noticed Chloe’s skin turning red and knew I had to get her in right away. She didn’t want to go inside, so–like any reasonable almost-two-year-old–she threw a tantrum.

And hurt herself.

I pick her up and rush her inside. I know she’s hurting badly by her behavior,  so I call our doctor. His assistant tells me what probably happened and that I need to get Chloe there right away before the doctor leaves  for the weekend.  I look at the clock. It’s  3:38 Friday afternoon. We live about 20 miles away, and over five of those miles are construction. (Welcome to Alaska.)

Realizing how short time is, I throw everyone in the car. I call Matt at work and tell him what’s going on as I’m running a screaming toddler and a confused infant to the car, while grabbing my purse and trying to remember where I put my keys in the chaos of it all.

I didn’t have time to change, and I realize I left the house in leggings. Being modest, I don’t do that kind of thing. Thankfully,  there was a sweater in the passenger seat, so I tied it around my waist at a red light (without taking off my seatbelt!). As I’m tying it, I realize I’ve sweat through my deodorant, and my pits are soaked. My hair is in the non-stylish messy bun, and I’m trying to rub something annoying out of my eye as I drive down the one-lane  “highway” caught behind someone who’s going 10 miles below the speed limit. (Another common Alaskan scenario).

Sweaty pits, dirty face, ratty hair, and an injured toddler in the backseat at the eleventh hour before the weekend, I really don’t want a police officer to catch my studded tires and pull me over. I felt like a felon the second I heard myself say, “Lord, please keep the cops away from me.”

Matt’s in the doctor’s parking lot and comes to help unpack the girls while I run inside and check Chloe in before the doctor leaves. I come running into the office, getting strange looks because it’s a hot sunny day and here I am in a long-sleeve shirt, long leggings, with a sweater tied around my waist checking in an imaginary child. That’s right; I was the Hot Mess Mom on Friday.

And the kicker: After the doctor has Chloe all better, I get back in the car and smack my forehead when I see that Company B called while I was in the doctor’s office and couldn’t answer. And they didn’t leave a message.

This whole ordeal was a fairly gentle reminder to triple-layer my deodorant and get dressed in jeans every morning because with toddlers, I just never know.

But, since my blog is about Jesus,  not Degree or Levi’s, I have to tie Christ into this somehow. I was wondering how to accomplish this goal all the way home from the chaos. (Which was a long time since construction was backed up for two miles and then someone ran a red light and almost hit me, then pulled in front me and drove below the speed limit. On a side note, this blog is going to kill Alaska’s tourism industry.)

So I’m thinking about Jesus most of the way home, and it hit me: How many times have I hurt myself by resisting God? Chloe wouldn’t have been hurt if she hadn’t thrown a tantrum. How many times has the Lord sweetly told me the way to go, and I’ve been too scared, too selfish, or too tempted to obey Him? I was telling Chloe to go inside to protect her skin, and when God lovingly tells me to do (or not to do) something, He is looking out for my best interest.

Another wonderful thing about God: When I resist Him and go the wrong way, He is there when things blow up in my face. The second I cry out in pain, He sweeps me up, comforts me, and gets me on the path to fixing me up. He doesn’t say “I told you so,” or, “Well, you got yourself in this mess, get yourself out.” Instead, He gives me mercy, love, comfort, and grace in my self-afflicted pain (that could’ve been avoided if only I’d obeyed Him).

Do I still pay a price when I disobey Him? Yes. Chloe missed out on hours of playtime. She experienced pain. She was scared when the doctor fixed her. But she also gained valuable treasures: She realized how much I care for her and how much I can be trusted. As soon as she felt better, she melted on my lap and gave me the biggest, sweetest hug. And I loved her in such a tender way at that time.

We lose opportunities when we resist the Lord’s will. We experience pain and fear. But we also learn how faithful God is, and God, like a good father, loves us tenderly and in a special way when we hurt.

#4: 60 Seconds Inside a Pregnant Woman’s Head (Earthquake Edition!)

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On January 24th, I was past-my-due-date pregnant with our second child. We had a major earthquake in the middle of the night.

I woke up at 1:15 a.m. to mind-blowing pain in my pelvis.

Oh, boy… I’m starting labor. This is it. It has to be.

Move into several positions. Pain won’t ease up, so find the position that makes it easiest to tolerate.

Okay, just breathe and relax. Just breathe and relax. . . Just breathe and — what is that? Why is the bed shaking? My cat has to scratch an itch NOW? This is not helping.

Okay, the bed is shaking profusely now . . .He must have fleas or something.

Wait. . . Ooooohhhhhh . . . this is an earthquake.

It figures I’d go into labor during an earthquake. This is okay. Most earthquakes aren’t severe.

A few seconds later . . . This one isn’t calming down.

Okay, the house feels like a boat.

Start praying.

While wondering how many bridges are going to go out between me and the nearest hospital, I move through intense pain to the hallway in case I need to grab Chloe.

And bridges going out during labor wouldn’t be complete without a snow storm, total loss of power, and all available medics assisting other callers until I’ve ringed so many times my phone battery has died.

Which place is safest to go during an earthquake? Interior doorways? Exterior doorways? Behind furniture? Under the table? Run around outside screaming with my hands in the air? Annoyed that after every substantial earthquake, 20 people have taken to FB to post conflicting ideas about the best way to hide during an earthquake, I realize no one has posted the best place to hide when you have a toddler and your loins are about to split open with a 9-lb human barreling out. Suddenly, I feel under-prepared. I decide that if it gets worse, we’ll hide behind the couch. At least it’s fabric, in case someone needs to wipe their nose. Maybe I could still grab a cushion for Lydia in case she pops out back there.

#2: You Know You’re a Mom When . . .

You use a pacifier as a bookmark.

In the chaos of wearing a newborn on your chest while taming a tantrum-throwing, tired toddler into the bathtub, you see your husband approaching the bathroom and warn him to watch his step, there’s poop on the floor.

Your sentences are word-combinations you never imagined saying. For example: “Don’t put your sweaty feet in my mouth!” “Did that cheerio fall off your butt?” “Don’t put your lamp in your poop.”

Your first thought when your husband returns home is, “Yes! I can pee without an audience!”

You’ve had to emergency-vacuum when you found your toddler throwing confetti and realized it was the urine-soaked cotton of her ripped diaper.

You’re doing the dishes when your toddler runs up to you, yanks your slacks down, throws crumbs in the crotch of your pants…then runs away laughing hysterically. (Good thing I was wearing underwear!)

You have to put basic hygiene tasks on your to-do list or they likely won’t get done. (I’m looking at you, showers.)

You play “What’s that smell?” with your husband at least once a week.

Your idea of sleeping in is waking up at 8 a.m.

You go to sleep with Fisher-Price tunes stuck in your head.

You’ve stepped on a block and stifled your scream because it was 2 a.m.

Your husband walks in the door at dinner time and finds you still in your PJs, covered in spit up, and collapsed on the floor with a box under your head for a pillow as your toddler runs through the living room screaming her giggles — while you’re holding your newborn and counting down to her next feeding.

You’ve gone to the grocery store soaked in spit up from your belly button to your mid-thighs. (Bonus points if you’re still so happy that no one notices because everybody is drawn to your smile!)