The day that you wake up and realize you’re too scared to even take a shower if your kids are awake is the day you know you’ve reached the edge. It’s not that there’s no coming back from it, but to suddenly find yourself there is downright frightening.
Just yesterday, and against all of my better judgment, I got all four of my kids ready and then told them to play and keep an eye on Avery, our fifteen-month-old daughter, while I took a shower. This was my first mistake. I know what happens when I do idiotic things like this. The last time I did it I ended up with drawings glued to the wall and then to my son’s pants.
I’ll be generous and say that I was alone in the shower for only 45 seconds. That might be a stretch, but I’m feeling pretty positive this morning. The door gets flung into the wall. This is my cue that I don’t want to know anything that is about to be said.
Hunter, my generally well-behaved seven-year-old son and also my firstborn, sounded scared to even fill me in on the details of his entrance. Oh no.
“Ummmm, there’s yogurt all over your couch and Avery.”
“Are you kidding me!? How did that happen!?”
“Haylee. Who do you think?”
For the record, I love that even he knows that the answer to that question should have been obvious. She’s delightfully and wildly four. But sometimes Tanner, my six-year-old, gives her a run for her money, so Hunter should’ve been able to sympathize with my confusion.
“Please go try to wipe it up before it stains anything,” was all I could think to say.
Three minutes later he’s back. I assumed he was there to tell me that he cleaned it up as best he could, but that he needed my help. Not a chance.
“So I’ve been looking and there’s actually a trail. It’s all over the couch, the floor, the rug and the entertainment center.”
“Seriously!? Is it wiping up okay?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t tried yet. I was too busy following the trail.”
“Okay, great. But that yogurt is blue so could you try to wipe it up before it stains, please. I’ll be right there.”
Shaving your legs is overrated anyway. And GoGurts, in all of their thoughtful simplicity, need to fall off the face of the planet.
The good news is that Hunter did an excellent job on the cleanup. The bad news is that the culprit was sitting in the corner of the couch trying to dream up a lie about how the yogurt managed to get in all of those places. I could see it in her eyes. Thankfully the punishment in this house for lying is steeper than all of the rest, so she thought twice.
I was semi-calm until I realized she had deliberately created that trail and she had done it for no reason whatsoever. Then I found myself on that edge. The place where you teeter between sanity and losing all sense of any virtues you had previously developed.
Motherhood has a strange way of doing that. It forces you to walk a steady line through a refiner’s fire that sharpens and softens and attempts to make you perfect all at once. Being a mom is hard. Let’s just tell it like it is. It forces you to reach and stretch and become more than you could have ever been on your own.
But being a mom is also mostly great. It’s like when Tanner tells me he loves me “infinity cotton candies.”
If you must know, I love cotton candy to the point of obsession. In fact, I’ll even go to events that I have no interest in attending if my husband, Kyle, dangles the opportunity to buy cotton candy in front of my face.
“Hey Bri, do you want to take the kids to the Sportsmen’s Show this weekend?”
“No. I’d rather bathe in battery acid.”
“You can buy cotton candy there.”
“Oh . . . well, alright then. Let’s do it.”
There you’ll find me, slowly weaving between rifles and bows, boats and four wheelers, with mounted deer heads staring me down as I push a stroller with one hand and eat my blue cotton candy with the other.
This means Tanner loves me a lot, you see. Moments like this make the sweetness of motherhood blatantly obvious.
However, even in those less obvious moments, the ones when you’re struggling to keep your head above water and your children run over your face with their dinosaur-sized flotation devices, or mistakenly grab your ankle instead of the dive stick and pull you under, motherhood is mostly great. It is love and service and sacrifice. It’s labor intensive, but motherhood is also your passport to the most beautiful view you’ll ever see.