Jovie (5) got in trouble. I took away a toy as her punishment. The wailing began. Bribing, threatening, ignoring—none of it worked to get the screaming to stop. The crying fit lasted all through getting clothes on bodies and shoes on feet and the three of us out the door for the gym. I reached a low point while driving when I began praying out loud for her heart, in a hopeful attempt at forcing conviction and/or repentance. When I realized MY wicked heart, I changed to confessing out loud for my impatience and asking for patience and grace and strength to, I mean, quite literally just survive the moment.
She walked all the way into the gym, still pouting, still downcast. I am a mom of constant fear of something bad happening, so there is no way I was letting her out of my sight in childcare before making up. I scooped her up, squeezed her, forced her to admit that she still loved me. And I went on to spin class.
Was it my newly softened heart or my fear of another fit? Who knows, but when we were walking through the parking lot and she asked for a PBJ, I said yes. Remy asked for a PBH (honey). I said yes. When we got in the car and Jovie asked to make it herself, I said yes—knowing full well this meant little sis would need to make hers too. I didn’t realize at the time, this was the moment He had begun to answer my prayer. I had chosen patience over practicality—pushing aside the ‘I need to feed them, get them ready for school’ rush and instead saying yes to something super inconvenient (and messy) for me.
Jovie went to school and I spent the next few hours getting broken down by Remy. She’s stubborn in a different way, but nonetheless exhausting. I pick up my oldest from pre-K, come home and get tag teamed. A fighting, hitting, yelling, not listening— team of sisters. It was one of those days for sure. I waved the white flag, threw corn dogs in the oven and kept checking the clock, you know… in case time wanted to speed up.
It’s a “Daddy is at the firehouse day” and I glance around at the aftermath of the day. I hate when he comes home from a shift and walks into chaos. (Let’s be real clear, I always hate it—but that doesn’t mean I always do something about it. #keepingitreal) Today though, I picked up the house. I swept. I did the dishes. Fed the babes corn dogs (and strawberries and avocados, so don’t judge me).
Jovie had been home for roughly two hours, so that means for approximately two hours she had been asking to watch tv incessantly . Each time I said no, I saw her resistance build up more and more. It was only a matter of time before the next “no” set off an atomic bomb of emotions.
I was wiping down the oven. She asked again. “Can we watch Ferdinand?”
I took a deep breath in. Put the kitchen rag down and asked her to come over. I got down on her level and said,
“Hey. Your mommy hasn’t read her Bible in awhile. And I miss Jesus. Remember before when we stopped watching tv and just read a lot? I want to do that again. Can you help me with that?”
*Braces for impact.*
“Okay, Mommy. I’ll go read.” And she literally skipped away. But not before turning around and asking, “Can we sometimes watch Jesus cartoons?”
And it was in this moment that I remembered my prayer in the car for help to just get through the day. He dumped grace out on my head and gave me the strength and patience to not just “get by” but to end by mommying well.
I intentionally tossed my phone aside and I asked the girls to join me on the couch. They piled in my lap and I just held them. No books. No tv. Not even any words. They didn’t even ask why I was being weird. We were just there together. Not getting by, but enjoying each other.
Can I just remember that 1.) I need Jesus and 2.) our day starts and ends with me and my heart and my attitude? And it trickles down from there. The truth is I started this story with Jovie’s rioting. But the day really started around 7:30am when I didn’t want to wake up and I certainly didn’t want to go to the gym. I threw a bare minimum breakfast in front of them, drank my coffee and let’s be honest probably had my nose in my phone. It started with me.
I put them to bed and made a beeline for my Bible. Thank you, Lord for answered prayers.