So in my quest to lose the baby weight, I got this fabulous idea of loading all four of my children in my double stroller and going on power walks. We are quite the sight to be seen! I put Will in the very front (since he has discovered hair pulling), Emma gets thrown behind him in the first seat (because let's admit it, she is his other mom...or so she thinks), Lily goes in the next seat and Luke straddles her bringing up the rear. My kids are not small by any definition and so when it all is added up, I'm pushing about 145 pounds of kid and a 20 pound stroller - which makes uphill a blast! I huff and puff pushing all of them while they encourage me by screaming, "FASTER! FASTER! FASTER!" We of course get stopped about every few houses by an onlooker, which probably could be annoying but I welcome it as a much needed break for my sore arms. And with almost a 100 percent accuracy I can predict how our conversation will go:
Onlooker: "Wow, you have quite the load there."
Me (with a polite smile): "Yes I do."
Onlooker: "How old are all of your kids?"
Me: "Twin 4 year old's,2 and almost 1"
Onlooker: "You must be very busy! I bet you are super mom!"
Me: "Ya, I stay pretty busy. Have a wonderful day."
Luke: "Mommy you aren't a super hero, you are the mommy."
Me: "Thanks for the reality check honey."
Then we proceed until we get stopped again.
When I envisioned having kids, they were always clean and well behaved. They wanted to cuddle a lot, read books, and they never forgot their manners or ate with their mouths open. I was always beautiful (of course) in my dream and put together - and people were always in amazement how wonderfully behaved and perfect my children were.
We lived in Kalispell when the twins turned two and Lily was 6 months old. Our church served dinner every Wednesday night and you could find us there rain or shine (it was cheap and I didn't have to cook!) You would get your food cafeteria style and then take it back to your table. Dave worked evenings and so I was single parenting it most of the time which always lends itself to wonderful adventures. One Wednesday night I placed the kids at the table and told them to stay seated until I got back with their food. I proceeded through the line and was headed back to the table with 3 plates in hand to a table that had my girls sitting there but no Luke. I told Emma to not move as I began to frantically look for Luke all over the church. Soon, about twenty youth and pastors were enlisted to find Luke. My heart was racing, but I knew he was somewhere in the church - just where? As I was about to run down yet another hall, the youth pastor found him playing in one of the rooms with the thermostat. Nice. I grabbed his hand tightly and we walked back to the table where I found baby Lily crying in the high chair because she was all alone. Yes, alone. Emma was gone. So, I asked some random person to sit with my kids and give Luke the death stare if he dared move from his chair. As I started running out of the gym to find Emma, she walked into the gym proudly. Holding her diaper. With no pants. She had gone potty apparently in the restroom and wanted to share the news with EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. Horrified I grabbed her, ran to the bathroom, redressed her and went back to our table. And then we finally got to eat our dinner. Yes, that's me - Super Mom.
This morning as I was getting caught up with some emails and banking stuff I realized that it had been quiet for too long. Lily was missing. I found her in my bathroom with the door locked. When I unlocked the door I found her "painting" her fingers and toes, among other things, with a black sharpie. Beautiful. Super Mom, right here.
I have become quite comfortable with my reality, ever since my kids could walk, that I am definitely NOT Super Mom. But I still struggle with disappointing myself when I feel like I have not attained that title - which happens, well, daily.
Busy does not equal Super Mom. Lots of kids does not equal Super Mom. Quite honestly, I don't know what would equate to Super Mom. But what I do know is that loving your kids equals Great Mom. Taking time to teach them about life's little miracles equals Great Mom. Introducing your children to Jesus and instilling in them characteristics of compassion and love equals Great Mom. A clean house, in my opinion, doesn't equate to Great Mom - it equates to a clean house which is wonderful. But a house that is full of love and learning and growing - that equates to greatness.
In Deuteronomy 32:4 it says, "He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He."
I am not a super hero, but God is. I am not perfect, but God is. And I think, when we rely on God's strength in us instead of our own strength then parenting becomes a bit easier. When we remember that we won't be perfect, but that God always is and loves us despite our imperfection - it's easier to laugh at those moments when everything seems to be going wrong (like naked kids in the middle of the church). Embracing that we will make mistakes, that our kids will not always be spotless well-behaved robots nor will we, and that life is messy and full of imperfections and opportunities to grow will allow us the freedom to truly become great parents. When our eyes shift from us to Him - that's where we find freedom and the ability to really flourish.
Now I'm going to go grab the magic eraser and get the sharpie off the bathroom counter and then lock all the markers away where no two year old can reach them for a very long time - and then for a walk!