I’ve been meaning to sit down several times this week to write a new post, but the way things were going around here, I didn’t have the time or the energy to get anything down. This has been a tough week. It has been a week filled with what I like to call “character forming exercises.”
The reason for the busy week is not because I have a lot going on necessarily, but because Mia is transitioning from two naps per day to one per day. Normally, this wouldn’t be much of a problem, but she’s a twin, and her twin is still on two naps. That means for most of the week, I had one baby up and one baby asleep and then they’d switch. That’s about 12 hour stretch of time trying to keep a baby happy. This is exhausting and draining. No rest for me which means my means my stamina for any slightly difficult situation is low.
Often when my defenses are low, I will experience a pressure test and this pushes me to the limits of what I feel I can take. The dictionary defines pressure, “ an urgent claim or demand or series of urgent claims or demands” and “the exertion of force by one body on the surface of another.” I can relate to both of these definitions. The first refers to the ongoing needs my children have and I need to fill. The second refers to the physical nature of being a mom to young kids. There’s a lot of physical contact. My chiropractor told me during an adjustment that it was like he was working on a football player. I’m pretty beat up from all the carrying, bending, wrestling, jumping (them on me), squeezing, etc.
Every day, I have at least two or more pressure tests. This is when things seem out of control and I’m being pushed to the max by demands of my little people. Here is a glimpse of the some of the pressure tests I experience regularly or have experienced recently:
One pressure test I experience everyday is called “leaving the house.” Five children need to be encouraged and helped getting their clothes on for outdoors. Ten socks, ten shoes, 5 coats, and then reapplying of several socks and shoes by babies who pull them off before I’ve gotten them out the door. When the big kids are ready, they go out the door one by one and babies follow close behind but can’t go out unsupervised, so I have to pull them back in. Then the tears begin and the leg grabbing and clinging to my pants while I’m struggling to find two matching boots in the mass of shoes in the closet. Then I have to pee, so I tear the babies off my legs, resulting in louder and more urgent crying, as I run for the toilet. By this time, Janelle has come back in to tell me Ethan hit her and Ethan is on the porch crying because Janelle slammed the door in his face. After settling the dispute and pulling the babies off the front porch again, I smell something funky. A diaper needs changing. By this time, I’ve stripped off my sweater because I am working up a sweat just trying to get everyone out the door. A pressure test.
This next pressure test happened this past summer. It is one of the worst situations I have ever had with my child. No, no one was seriously hurt or anything, I was just horrified and embarrassed.
Because it was summertime, Jonathan was home and I had the pleasure of taking the three oldest kids to the local library. It was a treat not having to take the babies because the car seat buckling, diaper bag dragging and the stroller set up take a lot of extra time. I love taking three kids out and it feels easy. Well, this trip got pretty hard real fast. Funny how I get humbled so quickly when I think I’ve got things under control.
I was leisurely browsing through books and movies, when I noticed my 2 year old was standing a little funny. I went to him and to my horror, noticed a large mound of poop under his legs. On the library floor. It was carpet. Realizing I didn’t have a diaper bag with a change of clothes, I sucked in a huge breath and said, “Ethan, stay right there.” I walked to the bathroom as quickly as possible and grabbed a wad of paper towel. A brisk walk back and I discovered Ethan hadn’t moved an inch. He was probably in shock as well. I scooped the poop (poop and scoop, remember, Jess?) with the paper towel and grabbed Ethan’s hand. I kept my head down, avoiding eye contact with others, and dragged a plodding Ethan to the bathroom. The worst part of all, was the fact he was wearing a boxer short underwear. It doesn’t contain anything. As we trudged to the bathroom, a trail of poop was being left behind. When we reached the safety of the bathroom, I realized I had to go back out there and tackle the mess on the floor knowing some people were watching the scene unfold. A pressure test.
During these pressure tests, I know I have to face the task alone. It is my responsibility to look after these things. But sometimes at home when housework starts to build and the kids are sick and cranky and I’m tired and irritable, I often think, isn’t there anyone out there who can help me right now? Should I call someone? Who could come? Lately, no one is coming to my rescue. Not because I don’t have wonderful supportive people in my life, but I have a feeling God wants me to handle this on my own too.
As I was thinking about these things tonight while loading the dishwasher, I had a light bulb moment. I realized my mom used to rescue me like that. As soon as I ran into a bit of trouble, she’d be at my side, taking over and fixing things for me. Oh. I get it now. I know why I’m looking to be rescued in these moments of struggle. When I was first married, I wondered why Jonathan didn’t come rushing to the kitchen when a disaster had happened. He didn’t even yell from the living room to find out what happened. Clearly he heard my yelling and the crashing and banging. I’d think, “Why isn’t he coming over here?” Since then I’ve learned that’s not his style and if I need help, I need to ask for it. He will gladly step in, but all I have to do is ask.
So, today I wonder what I’m in training for. Don’t astronauts have to under go pressure tests in order to be allowed to fly to space? Space travel is not for the weak. An astronaut needs to have a sound mind and body. So, what I am in training for? These pressure tests push me to my limits. Most times I feel like shouting or running out of the house, but instead, I have to remain calm under the circumstances. And this builds character. Not buckling under the pressure. Continuing to demonstrate good character under stressful circumstances.
I don’t know what God has in store for me in the future, but I do know he wants me to be more and more like him. The more strain I feel, the more I feel him shaping me into who he wants me to be. The training is hard, but the result will be beautiful because he made me. Who I am and what I become will be used for his purpose.
Isaiah 64: 8
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.