I’m really cranky today. There are many reasons why I’m cranky, and I’m not going to go into any of them because my blog is not my own personal talk therapist. I think blogs that serve as talk therapy are boring and uninteresting and usually really really whiny. I’m whiny in real life; I’d like to suppress that particularly charming personality trait in the blogosphere.
Nevertheless, I woke up cranky and sad and feeling like there really wasn’t any point in putting one foot in front of the other because at the end of the day, I’d be in the same place; a messy, small apartment with three messy, small children and nothing but injuries and spilled drinks to break up the monotony of our days.
But I had forgotten one important fact: Sienna and Charlotte had check-ups at the dentist today. When I happened to grumpily glance at the calendar and be reminded of this, I was like, “Seriously, God? I ask for a break from the monotony and you give me dentist appointments?”
Well, it was a break from the monotony, all right. Sienna was fabulous as usual, and bravely complied to the dentist’s every request so that she could show her sister that there was nothing to be scared of. Charlotte started screaming the second I opened the door to the office, and didn’t really stop until we left. Liam woke up with Charlotte’s first scream and contributed mightily to the general angst and hysteria with his own special brand of baby wailing. It was spectacular.
The worst part, though, was when the dentist had me lay Charlotte across both our legs (the dentist and I were sitting knee-to-knee) with Charlotte’s head in the dentist’s lap so the dentist could take a look at her teeth. Charlotte went from hiccuping and crying to full-body-locked, shaking, hysterical choking screams. Her eyes were the size of silver dollars, and she looked up at the dental light and the dentist with a mask over her face and all the equipment and just freaked. I’ve never seen a child so petrified. I had her wrists locked in my hands and the dentist was holding her head and shoulders still, and poor Charlotte was shaking head-to-toe, uncontrollably, her tiny hands scrabbling frantically against her thighs. The sweet dentist did a very quick exam with no cleaning and pronounced her teeth fine. We sat Charlotte up and she latched her hands around my neck in the most terrified of toddler chokeholds.
In the end, it didn’t matter that I had talked to Charlotte again and again before we went about how the dentist was just going to clean her teeth like Mommy does, and how it’s good for her and it won’t hurt at all, and all she has to do is lie still. Once we got there and she was surrounded by all those unfamiliar people and equipment, she was terrified. There was no use trying to reason with her; the only thing for it was to hold her still and endure her struggles.
Seeing my child like this, so completely petrified of something that was ultimately good for her and having to force her to submit made me wonder if it’s this hard for God to see us struggling against His will. On days like I had today, the last thing in the world I want to do when I wake up is be a mother. I don’t want to take care of my children; I don’t want to clean the house; I don’t want to be cheerful and agreeable and read stories and listen to endless imaginations and pick up petrified string cheese from underneath beds. I just want to walk out the front door, alone.
It’s helpful for me to remember that God doesn’t force us to submit. I could walk out the door; I could walk away from the spilled milk and the tears and the giggles and the dirty toilets and the laundry and never look back, but I don’t. And I won’t. And on days when I’m surly and short with my family, what really crushes me in the end is my own guilt over my attitude and my actions. Guilt keeps me pinned to the chair when I tell myself to get over it. The refrain of “sometimes my life is really wretched” in my head turns into “sometimes you are really wretched.”
It may not be much, but knowing that at least I’m not running from God’s plan for me is some sort of consolation. I may not be the best mother, and some days I may not even be a very good mother, but at least I’m here, and at least I’m not giving up. And at least I have the grace of a new day tomorrow.