Today was the worst. Add up unrealistic expectations, a messy house, unfinished projects, coat sleeves turned inside-out, tired kids and an even-more tired mom, and you are looking at a group of crying, screaming half-dressed small people in the garage at 11am.
The worst part was, I knew it was all my fault. I had over used my tv-as-distraction tool to get some things done. It was time to head to the gym, as we have for the past few months. However, I had a project 97% finished and wanted that extra 15 minutes before we HAD to leave to finish it. For me to get that 15 minutes, the kids were going to have to get their own shoes on.
And use the potty.
All of these tasks have been formerly completed in record time by both 3 year olds with no issue… when it is their idea. However, in this moment it was apparently beyond reasonable expectation. (It was my idea, after all.)
So there we were, a big mess of unmet expectations. The kids were crying, I was crying, the dog was whining, the wind was howling; we had a choir going. I chucked my jacket into the car with the proclamation my kids have heard too often: “you are driving my crazy!”
I know they hear it too much because I hear Evi repeating it often to her brother… with the same aggravated tone grating her voice that I have in mine.
So, as I bent to hook a carseat buckle, I stopped short and just said, “you are driving!” … as if a preschooler behind the wheel is going to steer this chaotic mess back to the sanity station.
No, the kids should not be in the driver seat. And neither should I, in fact.
“God, would you take over here!?” I prayed.
“Build a fort, mama.” He whispered back.
I didn’t expect a direction so clear or so quick, but my heart found hope in that simple prerogative. I abandoned the mission to get out of the house, embracing the resolve to stay-in-the-moment.
I scooped the kids out of the car, gathered blankets, unrolled a few strands of Christmas lights, and hijacked our living room to stage our fort. I found a treasure chest in storage and filled it with up with books. The children were so excited about their new treasures. We cuddled in the close quarters of our blanket fort and breathed in the rhythmic words of children’s stories.
Tears turned to tickles. Sobs surrendered to warm snuggles. Frustration stepped aside when fun came in the room.
There in our fort, we all found shelter. The lights twinkled under the blankets, and the eyes of my children gleamed under the covering of my affection. And my own heart rejoiced for the undeserved banner of love I receive from my own good, good Father. In that moment, I realized He makes a blanket fort of grace over me every day.
The tears I have now are drops of awe and gratitude.
Perhaps tomorrow I will prioritize a moment of intimacy with my kids earlier in the day. And in doing so, we might end up leaving the house a more balanced group of people on our way to accomplishing something lovely for the day.
That was not how this day began, but I continue to embrace the art of stay-present mothering. In fact, I think our living room full of floating blankets was the kind of lovely we needed.
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 ESV
On the worst days, dear mama, let’s build a blanket forts for our kids, and snuggle them close under the blanket of grace God has built over us.
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” The Song of Solomon 2:4 ESV