A few weeks ago I was talking to my mother-in-law about a picture I saw on Instagram. Someone I follow who I've never met who has twin boys that are about the same age as my boys. I commented that her boys always seem content to play quietly together or separately while their mom is getting stuff done. I told her I couldn't understand how she fostered that environment in their home. She responded with the line I'm sure lots of you have heard, "you're comparing her 5% to your 100%". She then followed up with, "think about what you just posted. It could have sent the same message." And she's right! When you look at the picture below you might have thought that life seemed quiet that day. You might have thought our reading time always looks like this. You may have painted a much different picture in your head than our reality! So how about a honest picture of what this day looked like? Ya know, just to keep it real.
The boys and I took a last minute trip down to the beach for a few days to visit my sister (along with my mom and sister in law). We returned at 10:30 pm on Thursday night and were leaving on Saturday at 8 am to head back to the beach for a week vacation with Jordan's family. We had Friday to unpack, do laundry, shop for the coming week, and repack. So Friday morning we climbed over all of our bags in the kitchen floor to get out the door to run errands. We ran by Five Below to buy the boys boogie boards for our trip --- this started out with full excitement and quick obedience and by the time we made it out of Five Below and over to BJ's two kids had been knocked in the head and one was beating his against the wall on our walk over to BJ's. So they were placed in the buggy not to be touched. Of course we hit BJ's on a Sample Day so at every other aisle all three boys wanted to get out and try whatever was being offered. Which also resulted in one (or multiple) of the following statements:
- "Say thank you"
- "Look her in the eye when you say it"
- "You can not take a bite before you say thank you."
- "Make sure to throw your trash in the trash can."
- "Oh you don't care for that? Here's a napkin. "
- "Don't pour it out."
- "I'm sorry, do you have any napkins? We just had a spill."
By the time we get through BJ's we've rotated through all the seats in the buggy and the car attached to the front at least three times (because of bickering or playing too loudly), I've dropped my coupons four times, the buggy is so weighed down by all the drinks that I can hardly push it, and I am trying not to lose my cool. We make it through the check out, walk down the wrong aisle of the parking lot, the wind blows a couple of boogie boards off into the parking lot, a giant box of diapers falls out from under my cart and I'm just trying to get everything into the car and all the kids strapped in with out saying a cuss word. It's awesome.
When we leave there we head to Target to get the things that we couldn't get at BJ's (because who needs a bulk package of fifteen tubes of mascara or limes or sunscreen?). We make it through Target all in one piece until we make it to the checkout counter. Then my sweet, little, two year old cherub LOSES HIS MIND when I have to take the debit card away from him to pay. Well let's all be honest, at that point, whatcha gonna do? Your items have been rung up, one twin is picking up all the candy, one twin is trying to push the cart towards the door, and you have all eyes on you because your two year old is yes, LOSING HIS MIND. So we power through. I'm trying to load up the bags into my cart, grab my receipt, and book it to the car without having to make eye contact with anyone. But of course, oh of course, someone is all "Mommyyyyy, I gotta go potty.". So we book it over to the family bathroom and drag the giant cart up to the door and I begin unload my loud circus. As I pick the first kid up to put him into the bathroom a grandmother and her elementary aged granddaughter walk right between us and the door and whip it right into the family bathroom. I almost lost my mind. So we proceed to play with the water fountain while these two little dainty customers finish their business. When she walked out I was glaring at her. It's so not like me but I was fuming! To which she says, "oh, were y'all going in here? I figured you were going in that bathroom" while pointing at the men's bathroom. Oh my word, it took all things good and holy inside me not to pummel her to the ground. I wanted to be all "Yes ma'am, I'm going to send two four year olds and a two year old into the men's bathroom by themselves while you and your nine year old granddaughter use the family restroom". I just attempted to politely smile and then rushed my crew of babes awkwardly holding their pants in the middle of Target into the bathroom. Finally we all made it out alive and came home to inhale a bite of lunch and move on to our reading time!
I actually called my mom on the way home to explain the whole situation. I was so bummed that my prayer just a few hours earlier that morning had been that I would keep a tight reign on the view that my home is my mission field --- that I would use my day to point my boys to Jesus with the words on my tongue and my actions toward them and others, and that our conversations would be filled with grace and truth. And all I could think after leaving Target was, "well that's not exactly what I had in mind...I just hope my boys don't think attempting to shoot lazer beams from my eyes at a woman for using the bathroom before us is a picture of how Jesus would've done it..."
All of that to say, our house doesn't look calm and quiet all the time. And there are hard days. And I struggle with praying for one thing and two minutes later I'm making little choices to live by my flesh instead of the Spirit. My boys sometimes argue and often disobey. We are training, mamas. Some days that gets long and hard and frustrating. And some days I just get irritated by it all. But I'm thankful there's grace for those days. There's grace for our loud house and our disobedient kids and our disobedient selves. I'm thankful and I need to be reminded often. So if today is a day of feeling less than or incapable or aggravated or jealous, know that I'm in the trenches with you. And know even more than that, that God offers grace for our messes.