Some days hit you like a blast of cold water being unexpectedly tossed over your head during a hot shower. Usually motherhood is a series of such moments, as startling as a scattering of sharp legos all over a bedroom floor: you know they’re there, but you can never be quite prepared for their sting. Such was Friday. Actually, ever since Tuesday my brain had been thinking it was Friday. When Friday at last arrived for real, I was ready for it to finish its comic series of events. At the time, they were not-so-funny events.
During nap time, Betty came wandering downstairs to where I stood in the kitchen. She sidled up next to me, smoothed her hair and said with a coy look on her face, Is it perfect, mama? I looked a bit closer, thinking she had wet her hair in the bathroom. Nope. There was no hair to wet. She had given herself a generous haircut, right in front. Perfect wasn’t the first word that came to mind.
My day just kept getting better. While making dinner, which involved mixing up a batch of pizza dough, I grabbed the garlic powder to put a shake of it into the batter. Obviously, I flipped open the wrong side of the cap, as a huge pile of garlic powder dumped like an avalanche into the wet dough. I quickly scooped out as much garlic powder as I could, muttering under my breath. The next best thing to do: double the batch and enjoy the garlic.
As the evening wore on, small things started to get to me. There was mud where I didn’t want mud. There wasn’t hair where I wanted hair. There was arguing. There were interruptions. I have a spot where I like to hide in my room. If I sink down low enough, no one knows I’m there. Friday they seemed to instinctively find me. Especially the nap-less one. I felt like the mama elephant in the book Five Minutes Peace. Eventually it became clear: There is no avoiding the masses, I thought. It’s time to jump back in the boat. So I stopped hiding and plugged on through the evening, mustering up as much strength as I could.
Despite my resolve to be happy when Matthew got home, he was met with a more wiped-out-than-usual countenance. With much grace, he just hugged me. I started going over the difficulties of my day. He took my head in his hands and said something which really caught my attention. It was as startling as a blinding light shining in my eyes: Aim, the kids have never complained to me about you. I needed to stop doing what they never do to me. After looking at Betty’s hair, he let her know it’s not okay for her to cut her own hair, then he turned to me and said simply, She’s three! Yes, indeed. This will pass. It will grow. She learned. Move on.
My emotions were stabling, but not quite steady. I had one last complaint to offer my unwavering husband. I was feeling a bit vengeful towards the bathroom scale, and did a little “Woe is me” routine. Yes, I have been exercising about twice a month. Yes, I am no longer in my twenties, so that matters now. Still, I wish that scale showed me a little slack. I was going to go to the downstairs bathroom to make sure the toilet was flushed and there was no pee all over the seat before our company arrived. Surely my day was on the upswing.
Matthew went upstairs to get cleaned up from work and I decided to check our email before checking the cleanliness status of the powder room. I was a little shocked at what I saw. Next I checked facebook, and the top news in my feed was this:
Surprise anniversary gift for my wife: registering her for the Philly love run half marathon!!! She doesn’t know yet!! Wait till she checks FB or email! Let the training begin! Giddy with excitement!
Let’s just say, I had to go into the downstairs bathroom to compose myself. I spotted a lime on the laundry room floor before walking back into the kitchen. I picked it up and thought pretty seriously about beaning Matthew with it when I saw him. I’m glad some of our company had just arrived and was standing in the kitchen with my sneaky husband, when I emerged. Otherwise, that lime would have made swift contact with his head. He grinned and rubbed the goosebumps off his arms. Risky, risky move, buster.
Since Friday, I’ve thought a lot about difficulties and training. Running this morning in 30-degree weather would not have happened if I had not been presented with this challenge. (My husband knows me pretty well.) Plain and simple, we tend to shy away from difficulties. We want to go from point A to point C without passing through point B. This is impossible. We want to learn a piece of music without ever practicing. We want our kitchen to be spotless without lifting a finger. We want to lose weight without the sacrifice of watching our diet and putting in any effort to exercise. I so desperately want to run 13.1 miles without having to go out there every single day and run one mile or two. It just isn’t going to happen, no matter how much my desire is for it to happen that way. The richness of any accomplishment is deeply rooted in the amount of time it required to succeed.
In the same way, our Heavenly Father knows what’s best for us. He sees that finish line, so very distant from our earthly eyes. He tells us things very similar to what Matthew has been telling me: “You’re stronger than you think, Aim.” My grace is sufficient in weakness, Jesus tells us. Like any good trainer, He pushes us outside our comfort zone. That is where we see results. When you walk the same path over and over, never stretching yourself to go a bit further, you may miss the incredible view just up ahead. When we run the same mile and never push our lungs and our legs past that initial burn, we never discover we have the ability to do a bit more. Jesus totally knows how hard it is. He never once said life would be burden-free, but He invites us to lay our burdens on His capable shoulders. He never said He would only give us as much as WE think we can handle. But He said “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He will give you just a bit more than you think you can handle, so you’re stronger to go the next mile. It’s cold, it’s nasty sometimes, but He always sticks with us.
So I start my thirteen-mile journey… one step at a time.