I really could have used a do-over today.
I stayed up way too late last night (curse you, Hallmark Christmas movies!) and ended up sleeping in way too late this morning. If it had been the first time that had happened this week, it wouldn’t have been a huge deal. But it was more like the fourth time, and so waking up at 5am this morning was just NOT HAPPENING.
When I did get up, everything was off our regular routine, because I had overslept, and that put us all on edge. (And also, my shower head broke. Come on…) For some reason today, Emily thought it was the perfect day to cry about every. little. thing. and Nathan thought it was the day to call my name every 1.5 seconds.
I’d already lost my temper before we even got in the car to go to Target, and by the time we were halfway there, the little introvert inside of me was uncharacteristically SCREAMING because she was being suffocated by all the noise that two little people make in a small car. So it’s possibly that I let the little screaming woman out and did a little screaming myself.
I am not proud of this, but the kids seemed somewhat unfazed.
We finally parked, and headed inside, to the onslaught of STUFF being thrown at us. It’s Christmastime, so every aisle at Target has SOMETHING that my four-year-old just has to have, and so we had this conversation…
E: Look at THAT! I want that!!! You could get that for me!!!
Me: Did you bring your money? Because mommy is not buying another Elsa dress today.
E: No. But I neeeeeeeeeeed it.
Me: Tough. We are here for a new shower head for mommy; not every shopping trip is for YOU.
E: *Starts to fake cry*
Me: *Ignoring it on the outside but fuming on the inside.* (Possibly also fuming on the outside. I do not hide my feelings well.)
…about 67 times.
On the way out, Emily chatted up the checker at the register for a good solid 5 minutes while he was scanning my shower head and impulse dollar spot purchases (retail therapy is a real thing, people), and the poor guy couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Except as we walked away, when he finally said, “She talks a lot, doesn’t she?”
And I just looked back at him with daggers in my eyes, because that was only five minutes, sir, and she’s been talking TO ME nonstop for the last five years now.
We drove home in silence (because I gave no other option, and threatened ONE. MORE. WORD. with the confiscation of Vidia, the lucky fairy who was chosen to accompany us to Target today), and I finally had a little space to think.
And mostly, what I thought was that I just really could have used a do-over today.
I don’t want to yell, or lose my patience, or be the mom in the Target aisle who quietly (but loudly) hisses “It. is. time. to. be. QUIET.” to the little girl sitting in the back of my cart. I don’t want to tell them to stop touching things every three seconds. I don’t want them to think I’m always mad. I don’t want today to be a part of my children’s memories.
I want a do-over. To wipe the slate clean and pretend like today never happened, and just start again. To finish today and throw it away and let tomorrow be the day when I start being the kind of mom I think I’m supposed to be.
This is not a new wish for me. I am a bit of a perfectionist, and if things get a little messy, I feel this overwhelming compulsion to just scrap everything and completely start over. I think I asked Jesus into my heart no less than 214 times before I was 18. I’d messed up, and so I just wanted to start over again. And THIS time I’d get it right.
Or the whole food thing. I’ll pick a new diet and proclaim TODAY IS THE DAY I BECOME A NEW WOMAN! A new, skinny, athletic woman. But then one day I accidentally take a bite of leftover graham cracker, and realize I’ve spoiled everything and feel this deep-seated need to start all over. To pick a new program because this one obviously isn’t right for me. I can’t do it perfectly! So I’ll pick a new one and start tomorrow. And THIS time I’ll get it right.
I approach my marriage like this too. Our first few years were nothing short of hellish, which is not exactly what I thought I’d be getting into when I married my Prince Charming. We are so much stronger, better, different now, that some days I don’t even recognize who those newlyweds were. I love this place we’re in today. But part of me still wants the do-over, wants to erase the mess and the pain of the first few years with a vow renewal ceremony, or something of the like, so that I can feel like we’ve got a fresh start, on the right feet, and THIS time we’ll get it right.
Otherwise the mess is still a part of us, a part of me, and I don’t know how to handle that.
That’s what I realized in the car on the way home today. That I just don’t deal well with the mess. I constantly want to get rid of it and start over, but the truth of the matter is that life doesn’t work that way.
We can pretend all we want, but in life, there are no do-overs.
See, I want the do-over because I want my life to look better than it does. Even on my best day, I’m not comfortable with the messes and what I think they say about who I am as a woman, a wife, a mom.
But Jesus comes in and says that the mess isn’t what defines me. It’s what shows me my need for Him.
The mess is the very reason we need a Savior. If I could start over on my own, every time I messed up, I’d have no need for anyone outside of myself.
But realistically, it’s in the middle of my mess, that I see so clearly what I can’t see when I’m striving for perfection. That my need for Jesus is great. Greater that I would have realized if my life was picture perfect. And the beauty of Jesus is that He doesn’t wait to save me until I’ve got my act together.
Jesus is not afraid of my mess. He comes into the middle of it and meets me there, full of grace.
He wades into our marriage, shows us our sin and brings forth new life. He sees that Eggo waffle that I want to eat (the struggle is real, people), and reminds me that an apple with peanut butter isn’t a bad option either. He sits with me in the trenches of motherhood, and, in the rare moments of quiet, He uses His Word to gently correct my selfish ways and teach me to love like He does.
I’m learning, ever so slowly, that I don’t need to be a perfect mom, or wife, or woman. I simply can’t be. And those messes that dirty up the picture I had of the perfect life I was supposed to lead? Well, maybe those are the most beautiful parts. Not because of anything I’ve done, but because those ugly places are where you can best see Christ’s saving grace in me.
Because that’s the whole point anyway. Yes, I’m the mom, and the kids should obey and be respectful and learn how to be quiet when they need to be. And yes, it’s my job to teach them how to do those things. But I also need to remember that I’ve never had a sinless day. I mess things up as often as they do. And more than anything else, I need God’s grace. So why wouldn’t they?
(They do. Of course they do.)
So today might be a wash. But at the end of it, I’m drawn back to Him, back to His Word, because I see how great is my need for Him. In the end, I remember that more than right behavior, I want my kids to have a right understanding of who God is, how much we need Him, and what He’s done for us. The behavior will follow.
Tomorrow, instead of wishing for a completely new story, I’ll try my best to welcome the new mercies He promises. I’ll bite my tongue and take a deep breath and pray for every ounce of self-control God’s got to spare. And I’ll be thankful that instead of running away from the messes, like I generally want to do, we have a Savior who is ready and willing to dive right in with us.
Thank goodness He does. Because picture perfect is just not my story.
(And maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.)
Ever had a day when you just wanted a do-over? Can you relate?