While we were on our 24 hour hotel vacation a couple weekends ago, there was a super sweet lady at the continental breakfast who was attending the same Medieval conference that Mike was there for. She was watching our family eat our breakfast and kept commenting on how beautiful we were and how "well behaved my girls were!", a compliment that sometimes confuses me so much that I can't respond, but I thanked her and smiled.
One other comment that the sweet lady made was something along the lines of "they are SO close in age!" and that she would have "gone crazy!". It did not seem as if she had any children, or was married, she's an English professor- that much I know. I let her know that "sometimes I am crazy", I didn't want to be so phoney that it seemed like I have it altogether or something, just because I wasn't screaming at my kids right there at the continental breakfast bar doesn't mean I never do. Or for that I wouldn't be doing just that in the car a mere 45 minutes later when they would push my buttons in some stupid way.
It seemed like for her, the fact that having 3 so close together making someone "crazy" is reason enough not to do it, and that if she had had kids, they would have been spread farther apart because otherwise she would have gone "crazy".
But what if going "crazy" isn't a bad thing? Assuming we're not talking about being clinically crazy, or dealing with any sort of serious issues, for my puposes I am just talking about feeling like your head might explode or simply feeling totally overwhelmed and seeing how much you kind of suck.
I mean, if I wasn't having kids so close together than I would never know what a temper I can have, and how unbelievably selfish I am and so wouldn't be working so hard to root those things out. Sure, it is rough for my kids some days when they have just pushed 17 too many of my buttons, resulting in a major mom meltdown complete with tears, loud cries and locking myself in a room to be alone for one minute (not that that ever happens, no never around here). Sometimes I feel like Frank Costanza when he spends too much time with his wife:
I am certainly not trying to downplay something serious-- anger is a sin, one of a 7 deadly sins and I am constantly getting angry- that's not ok. Along with lots of other sins rooted in my selfishness, this one comes out all too frequently during the day-to-day craziness that is life with 3, 4 and under.
Like the other day when Bernadette came up to me shortly after they had woken up and very politely asked me to read a couple board books to her and I just said "no, I need to lay on the couch for little bit" (because I had stayed up too late hanging out the night before and I was so flippin exhausted). But they were board books, it would have taken all of 3 minutes to read them with her, and it was mother's day. That wasn't ok and I should have picked her up and read them with her. Honestly, I spent most of mother's day feeling guilty for how burned out I feel and how most days I am just not a good mother.
I would go on about all my other weaknesses, but I'd rather this blog post not leave me ready to jump off a cliff.
The point is that these kids bring the the worst parts in me and then they have to deal with them.
But I try to think of it like they are like little florescent flashlights that God has given me to shine on all the sick, sinful parts of who I am. I feel like each kid has been a brighter light and shown me more and more how much work I need. So why would I stop now?
And I am absolutely NOT asking for any comments about "the great job I am doing!" and that "I am a great mom!"- I know those things. I think I am awesome. I am constantly patting myself on the back, there is pride aplenty in the heart of Ana Hahn.
I am just realizing now that having the ugly parts of myself shown to me daily is hard, but it is not a bad thing. Because as my little flashlights, they are not only showing me how much I stink some days, but they're also helping me to grow in virtue and rely more on prayer and on God's grace to be a half-way decent mother.
I would never ever have known that I could take care of a sad, sick, vomiting toddler after a night of next to no sleep from getting up with the newborn.
I never would have thought that I could sit down and do some "lessons" with a 4-year-old who is begging me to teach her something, even though there is a fussy baby in my lap and a boisterous toddler afoot.
I certainly never, ever would have thought that I could hold, care for, love, and be compassionate to little people who simultaneously drive me crazy with constant defiance and tons of overly dramatic screaming and tantrum throwing. Or hold my teething baby with a bad cold almost every minute of the day that she is not sleeping, even while cooking, cleaning and watching the other 2 kids.
Motherhood has certainly shown me more of the bad and ugly parts of myself than I ever would have wanted, but if I really sit and think about it, I can see that God is doing just as much good in me precisely through this vocation, even though most days I cannot see it.
Yes, being a mother and having 3 close in age does drive me crazy most days, but it is the best kind of crazy.