There are days when I want to scream or run away or lock myself in the bathroom. Anything to escape the craziness of six children. The other day I contacted my husband at work and threatened to hole up in the nearest hotel, eat an entire bag of cookies, and watch What Not To Wear for hours and hours. He assured me that if I ran off and left him in charge of the kids, I would definitely see all of them on What Not To Wear in the mismatched, ill-fitting clothes he would put on them.
On my worst days — when someone pees in the living room floor, and someone else is cutting the fringe off an afghan, and someone else is sneaking off with an entire can of cashews, and someone else is wanting fed, and someone else has just stuck his hand in a messy diaper, and someone else is turning up the TV to 50 so she can hear it over the noise of everyone else — I do fantasize about being alone on a tropical beach with a good book. But the chaos will pass and my two year old will climb onto my back and say, “Hiyaa, hor-hee!” in the cutest little voice, or my three year old will run full-speed into my arms to give me one of those full-contact hugs only little boys give, and my heart will melt. And I wouldn’t trade being a mom to these precious children in this messy house for any bag of cookies or the best tropical beach or a weekend marathon of What Not To Wear.
Before I had children, I had rough days too. Those rough days just didn’t involve so many bodily functions and fluids. So I am learning to laugh about the craziness and not let ten minutes of utter chaos ruin the whole day. I breathe in and out and count to ten (or ten thousand) and pray for patience and love and all those other fruits of the Spirit I can’t possibly create in myself. Then I clean up the bodily fluids, turn down the TV, throw away the empty cashew can, correct, chastise, hug, assure everyone of my love, and feed the baby. And somehow, some way, God is using these chaotic, crazy moments in our days to build us up and mold us more into His likeness. He’s using these moments to build my children into the adults they will become. He’s using these moments to increase the Jesus-in-Jennifer.
That’s why, as tempting as the notion of running away might be, I cannot escape. I might lock myself in the bathroom for five minutes, but I can’t run away.