Mama said there will be days like this. Thursday was one of those days. Thursdays start bright and early for me as my husband leaves for Bible study before the kids are awake. I get up as he gets out the door for some quiet moments before attending to bottles and breakfasts and backpacks. My goal is to get everyone diapered, dressed, fed, and ready to go so I can be out the door at 8:50 am to take my oldest son to preschool. The morning had already been off to a rough start with spilled oatmeal, tantrums, and an assembly line of poopy diapers that pushed me back from reaching my desired goal. In an attempt to make things easier, I put my oldest son in his room to play with toys while I cleaned up some of the mess and took the stinky diapers outside. As soon as I got everyone else ready, I breathed a sigh of relief and went back upstairs to get Elias. The door wouldn’t budge. He had locked himself inside his room.
After gently asking him to please unlock the door and hearing some cackles and then a “NO!,” I sighed and started to jam anything I could find inside the pinhole to turn the lock. Meanwhile my infant son was in the room next door in his pack and play, crying because he was ready for a nap. My daughter was downstairs in the pack and play, crying and wondering why everyone had deserted her. I was on my knees, staring into the abyss of the door’s pinhole. I posted on social media for help. Now the 2-year-old prisoner started to get a bit frustrated with my lack of McGyver skills. “Get me out, Mommy!,” he screamed. I called my mom. I called my husband, who ended up driving all the way home to attempt to help me. After a FaceTime call with his brother for further instruction, my husband finally popped the lock and my son ran out with a big grin, yelling, “You did it!”
My husband took my 2-year-old son to school, I got my infant son down for a nap, and my daughter happily played next to my feet in the kitchen while once again, I went back to the rest of the breakfast mess. After the storm of the morning, the calm was returning. I turned to face the sink and wash an oatmeal-encrusted dish while humming “When Peace Like a River” when I heard a loud pop. As I turned around, I saw Charlotte looking up at me with a mischievous smile. She had pulled the Costco-sized jar of pickles down from the pantry shelf and was happily splashing in pickles, spices, and brine that was starting to seep under the oven and refrigerator door and slowly make its way across the kitchen floor. “Here we go again,” I mumbled. I swooped down to wash off the vinegary but happy baby and stick her in the confines of her pack and play.
There I was, back on my knees. Picking up pickles. Sopping up brine. And it hit me. Motherhood has brought me to my knees, both literally and figuratively, more than any other occupation God has given me in my life. Not only am I on my knees on any given day spot cleaning under the table and reaching under the couch or crib to find my child’s toys he lost, but God has also driven me to my knees in a posture of humility time after time as I am forced to die to self and serve these children. Who knew cleaning up pickle juice could lead to such an epiphany? In that moment, I knew God put me exactly where I needed to be, realizing my desperate need of his grace in order to handle the morning’s activities with an attitude of patience.
This morning’s devotional from “New Morning Mercies” (September 23) by Paul David Tripp rang true for me in light of Thursday’s events. He says that God “doesn’t teach us a lesson just once. He comes to us in situation after situation, each controlled by his sovereign grace, each designed to be a tool of transformation, and he works on the same things again and again.” God knows my tendency to get easily frustrated, to turn to self-sufficiency, and to want things to go my way. I’m more like my own two-year-old son than I like to admit. Yet lovingly, consistently, and patiently, my Father gives me daily opportunities to grow and change. He promises that he who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). The process is not easy and I don’t like it, but it’s for my good. My prayer is that I can reflect this same patient attitude toward my own children and the things they are learning.
For now, the kitchen floor is relatively clean once again and doesn’t smell like pickle brine. There’s a lock on the pantry door, and the lock on Elias’s door knob is temporarily duct taped until we can find a time to reverse the knob. All is calm, and I’m sitting in a chair as I type. Yet I’m sure God will bring me to my knees once again.