In college, Thursday was totally my jam. Um, helloooooo?? Thursday was basically the new Friday, and we could all get our party pants on and head over to the Neon Cactus with our giant plastic mugs to rock it to some Britney and N'Sync and enjoy filling those mugs repeatedly with Long Island Iced Tea. AHHHH, SWEET THURSDAY!!! My adults self obviously didn't get the memo, as I am NO LONGER a Thursday person. I get a case of the Thursdays every week, and here's how it goes. . .
Mon: Yay! A clean slate before me, allow me to rock this week and my ginormous to do list. . .
Tuesday: Ahh, this is the life! It's only Tuesday and everything is great! Plenty of time left!
Wednesday: I haven't really gotten much accomplished this week, but don't worry! It's only Wednesday! The week is still young!
Thursday: CRAAAAAAPPPPPPP where did this week go? Tomorrow is Friday?? PANIC!! Despair! Discouragement!! AAAHHHHH!!!!
(Friday: Oh, well, I'll just do it all next week.)
I don't know why, but my four kiddos are also not "Thursday People". When everyone is whining, crying, laying around lethargically and moaning and generally just a hot mess, I can look at the clock and be sure it's 4:30 pm on a Thursday, and we are going to need to do some major deep breathing and powering through to get to dinnertime and bedtime. It starts at breakfast most Thursdays, the tired and whiny voices of kiddos who know they still have two more days of structure before sweet, sweet weekend freedom. Cereal box walls are built and tiny arguments start to form at the breakfast table over things like "He's looking at me!!!" or the relative fiber content of our four cereal selections. It's not always like that, just Thursday for some reason, and it ain't pretty.
I maintain equanimity through the majority of the week, but Thursday morning usually finds me snapping at my Whinese-speaking kiddos during the breakfast rush. So, this morning, I was determined to be aware of my triggers and make this day better. I got up plenty early to shower and be fully made-up before my kids woke up. Because, let's face it, I wear enough makeup to go to prom every day, and if I don't have it on I'm just not ready to go. That's how I roll. I woke the kids up with hugs and smiles and packed lunches that included notes (because I was informed that "MOMMY!! THE OTHER KIDS HAVE NOTES!!!") but also was sure to include Bugles and Pudding Cups, because this mama knows what her boys love!
I was patting myself on the back when I looked at the oven clock at 7:35, knowing all my jobs were done and my kiddos were dressed and brushed and loved and peacefully enjoying some basement playtime. However, I heard the early stages of "The Thursdays" beginning beneath my feet. I can't remember the details if the next 20 minutes, but it involved way too much refereeing on my part. I am a pretty peaceful parent for 10 minutes of a multi-child meltdown, but after that I start to lose my Zen. Now, the meltdowns were all about something sweet, they had all decided to color, but the strife related to selecting appropriate coloring materials was multiplied times three cranky boys. As we entered minute 20 and there was no end in sight, this mama just snapped.
"WOULD YOU STOP FREAKING OUT!!" (Now I recognize the irony of freaking out about freaking out!) STOP IT!! I CANNOT LISTEN TO IT ANYYYY MOORREEEE!! Just figure it out and COLOR! I have had ENOUGH! DANIEL! PHILIP! JOSH! ENOUGH!"
Now, the instant I lose my temper there is immediate remorse, but this morning it was even more so. (Side note- my own mom NEVER lost her temper with me. How did she do that?) I looked down at Noah, who was standing a few feet in front of me this entire time. He was looking up at me with his sweet little 17-month-old face and his eyes were brimming with tears. His lip was quivering. His cheeks were red. Eyebrows raised. In short, he was terrified. OF ME. Then, to top it all of, he cried out, "Mommmyyyy????" as if he didn't even recognize the woman in front of him.
I scooped him up in my arms to apologize. Daniel shuffled off to the kitchen and I heard him getting each of his brothers a glass of water as I comforted Noah. The bros sat in silence, sipping their water and coloring, as I rested my head on Noah's tiny shoulder in shame. I shouldn't have to lose my patience to get my kids to listen to me. I know better than that. I am better than that. I thought I had that all figured out. . .I woke up early, eliminated all of my triggers so I could be all ready for "The Thursdays." I had it ALL. UNDER. CONTROL.
Oh, wait. I didn't have it all under control. You know why? Because IIIIIIIII was the one trying to do it all by myself. See all of those "I"s in that paragraph above? See me over there trying to figure everything out? Leaning on my own understanding? Enough time to put on prom-level makeup but not enough time to put myself before God?
Sometimes it takes a moment like that to bring the heart back to humility. I did not have it all under control. God has it all under control.
From now on, I have some tweaks to my Thursday approach (after prom-level makeup time.) First, breakfast will be served out of Crock-N-Rock cups. It's Thursday. Let's live it up. But most importantly, I will take some time out to humble myself before God before the whole whirlwind begins, lest I be humbled again by a sweet toddler boy who just wants to know where his Mommy went.
I even wrote a prayer for it, a long while back, that I keep in my kitchen. I need to pull it out every day, but especially on Thursday. :)
Dear Lord, walk with me today.
Help me to live with intention,
to live my vocation
Help me to be patient with the needs of my children today,
no matter how small
they may seem.
Help me to remember that their needs
are your needs
and when I am serving them
I am serving You.
Help me to choose Love today
remembering that my words
can give life
or take it.
May I choose the words
that bring your Love.
May I choose the actions
that make your presence known
and honor your people.
May I make the most of the precious time
You have given me
to serve You on earth.
Let me be your hands and feet today
To everyone I meet, may I show kindness, mercy and Love,
Use me to do your will.
Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to get my Thursday kiddos off the bus and power through until dinner!!
A few weeks ago on one of my numerous visits to the pharmacy, I came outside to find a sweet elderly lady circling my van.
At this point as I was leaving CVS, I was super sick, running a fever and feeling generally awful. . .not to mention totally embarrassed that I was wearing no makeup, a dirty ponytail and for some reason in my feverish state I had selected short shorts and a t shirt to wear when it was about 64 degrees outside. Feverish AND cold, not the best combo! I was really kicking myself for the short shorts as I was grasping my paper bag full of antibiotic and cough syrup in one hand and pushing the toddler in the umbrella stroller with the other.
"Is this your van?" She says, smiling sweetly with her white hair and trim white slacks to match.
When she asks me this question, I am inclined to think that. . .
A. Something substantial has fallen off of my vehicle or is leaking from the bottom of it.
B. I left my van door wide open for the entire hour I was in CVS.
C. It is like on fire or something.
I hesitate. "Um, yes, that's my van?"
After performing a quick scan I can see that, thankfully, no fire coming out of the bottom, and the door is closed. Perhaps this is a flat tire? I can only imagine and I brace my hot/cold/dirty self for the news.
"Oh, WELL!!", she gushes, "It is just such a lovely COLOR! I pulled in this parking spot and I have just been admiring it!"
Now, if you have SEEN my van, you have probably not even noticed it. I mean, I barely even notice it and I drive it every day. No offense, Van. It's not like I am embarrassed by my van, I really love it. . .it just sort of blends in to my life and I don't really spend a lot of time thinking about it. ESPECIALLY not about its beauty! Our 2002 Chevy Venture is what the manufacturers like to call "bronze". . .which is just a fancy way to say sparkly brown. We bought it from Paul's brother who bought it from Paul's parents. . .it's been a workhorse for this family to be sure! It's got some rust accents on it, I'm not gonna lie. . .but from my extensive childhood Crayola experience I feel like rust and bronze kind of go together. And I can definitely say that this is the first time in four years that ANYONE has complimented me on my van.
So, comparing her comment to my impression of my van, I think I am somehow being punked, or maybe I am hallucinating, but the lady is so sweet and smiling I have to go around to her side of the van to see what she is referring to.
She continues. . ."I HAD to get out of my car and take a look at this lovely van! What is this color CALLED????!!!!!"
"Oh, well, I just LOVE it. . ." and as she continues to gush about my Venture I look over and notice her car is white (to match the pants and hair.) And kind of lovelier than my car. Definitely cleaner. Mine is still covered with the half a million bugs we caught on the drive to Michigan last week. "Oh, there is this little spot!" as she points to the substantial rust spot that has started rippling over my passenger side wheel well over this past (ridiculous) winter. Her face starts to grow a little concerned as she pokes at it with her finger, like somehow the most glorious Bronze Van has been defiled, so I feel the need to, like, make her feel better about it.
Quickly, I jump to the van's defense. "Um, yes, well, you know, um, it does have 150,000 miles on it. But, it is just a little rust but it does hold all of my kids and get them places!"
"Oh, yes, well, isn't that so nice!", she beams at me again, "Bronze, you say? Just lovely! Well, you have a nice day now!"
"Um, you, too?!?"
The sweet lady shuffles off into CVS and I get into my van still kind of confused from the entire exchange. But, I noticed after that despite the fever and the shorts and lack of makeup, I drove that van a little taller. And when I went out to my van (in another pharmacy parking lot later the same night) at sunset I caught myself admiring it in its bronze glory. Actually, I catch myself admiring my van a lot more lately. Sometimes it just takes a fresh pair of perspectacles to help you see the things around you with new eyes.
Thank you, white slacks lady. And not too shabby, old van. Thank you for getting my kids from place to place, and for holding our whole family. It's the people inside who make the van anyways, right?