Sick Day

Auden has a stomach bug today. It started last evening with vomit all over the bathroom floor, but after a good night’s sleep, I thought we were in the clear. Not so. More vomit this morning.

As I’m learning lately, little kids tend to get sick a lot. And with two little kids, sickness grinds all plans to a halt. Sick kids means all plans have to be canceled, that we can’t leave the house, and that I have to be very flexible with anything I’d hoped to get done.

I find that as a stay-at-home-mom, I really like to have things on the schedule to get us out of the house. I tend to go stir-crazy if we are home all day, and that’s exactly the only option when the kids are sick. So this morning when I realized Auden still was sick, a sinking feeling came over me knowing that we’d be stuck inside all day. Sort of like a “oh, I’m trapped” sort of feeling. A “this isn’t fair” feeling.

Auden has been resting all day. He has a fever now, and he’s cranky as heck. I’ve had him lying on the couch (a couch covered in a spare sheet surrounded by towels and a lined trash can) and watching tv, which he’s mostly been content with. George has been pretty easy to entertain, happy to have most toys uncontested and to himself. Overall, the day has been okay, considering there’s a sick kiddo, really not too bad. What’s so bad about a day snuggling and watching tv?

Yet I have found myself just as crabby as Auden. I’ve snapped at the boys multiple times for no good reason, felt infuriated when George spilled my latte (which I could see coming a mile away), and have been less than gentle with the whiny ill-tempered sick patient. My patience has seemed too thin.

After getting them down for a midday nap, I felt that familiar feeling of guilt. That feeling of failure—an oh-so-familiar feeling—in my role as a mother. It’s more than just feeling like I’ve messed up. It’s more like: “I’m a horrible mom. I’m so bad at this.”

I feel this way more times than I count. Because time and time again, I mess up. I raise my voice at my kids despite trying so hard not to. I am impatient five minutes after praying for patience. I get tired of constantly being “on” and check out mentally. I long to be gentle and kind and tender and all the good things a mom should be, but I fall short. It makes me wonder and question if I’m cut out for stay-at-home-motherhood. I love, love, love being a mom in so many ways. On one hand I will say it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me, but on the other hand, why am I so bad at it sometimes?

Two days ago, I was loading the boys back into the car. We’d just spent a half hour at the park and we were heading home to meet Rob. A woman who’d parked next to us was in the process of unloading her own kids and they started walking to the park. One of her sons was misbehaving and I heard her scream very unkindly at him, “Just Fucking stop it!!” I glanced over—because how could I not?—and accidentally made eye contact with the mom. I quickly looked away and got into my car. I felt a bit unnerved. At first, I felt a little shock that someone would say that to a little child. But a few seconds later, after pulling out of the parking lot, I thought better of it. I felt more sadness for her. On so many levels, I understood her. I got it. She’d probably had a long day at home with kids who weren’t listening to her, and she finally cracked. And on top of it, she probably felt so embarrassed that I’d caught her in the act, a complete stranger to witness her shame.

Anyway, back to today. I am humbled to remember that I am not a perfect mom. This perfectionist, yours truly, no matter how much I try, will mess up. There will be many days when I feel like I’m failing, that I’m just not cut out for this mom thing.

But in the midst of all that, I have to remember to forgive myself. Imperfection does not mean failure. It means room for improvement, sure, but it is not failure. I have to change that narrative playing in my head. An imperfect mom is still a good mom. An imperfect mom just needs to remember she still needs Jesus.

I will not stop praying for patience. With a two year old and a three year old, I need that divine patience that only comes from the Holy Spirit. And I will continue to try to cultivate more love and tenderness and gentleness, because that is the kind of mom I want to be. It’s such hard work. Never did I expect young motherhood to be the time that God works so deeply on my heart, molding me and making me as in refiner’s fire, but it’s true. It’s utterly painful but also such good work if I allow it to happen. God is growing my character slowly, little by little, as I am continually challenged in motherhood. As I teach my little boys about basic kindness, I am re-learning it myself. And it’s oh-so-humbling when I mess up.

The boys will wake from their nap soon. I’m going to give them both hugs and we will settle back on the couch to spend the rest of the sick day. It’s not the day I had planned or wanted, and that’s okay. I wasn’t my best self this morning, and that’s okay. But we’ll start afresh in our way, patience rekindled, and hopefully everyone is feeling better soon.

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