There are days when, as a mother, you have to put on your big bad meanie pants.
Like when your seven and a half month old thinks you are just going to carry her around like a newborn just because she is cute, when you know she is supposed to be practicing crawling.
And so you just leave her there in the hallway, two feet from her play mat where all her favorite toys are waiting.
Do you see that look of shock and horror?
She made it to her toys in three minutes, the little punk baby.
I coddled her before, when they said she was sick, but when they say she is better, then letting her move is way more protective of her lungs than keeping her still. She needs to rest a lot, but when she is awake, she needs to play and move and clear those lungs out.
It’s a day that she feels stronger, for whatever reason. I can’t predict her good days or her hard days, but it was a good day. I know because I put her down for tummy time later this evening, before supper, and when I went to get her to eat, she was sitting up all by herself, like it was no big deal!
She’s just messing with me now.
Sometimes, you have a little reactive attachment disorder toddler who doesn’t feel very safe outside the house, and so when they change teachers at preschool your sweet baby daughter beats her up.
And sometimes, your sweet baby daughter who beat up her teacher has a brother in her class, because they are rainbow twins, and he starts kicking and hitting because that’s what he grew up knowing and so is always ready for a fight.
And so sometimes, it’s the kind of day where you think you are barely getting work done, but in between each piece of work, you have to go pick up your kids, who are also a piece of work.
For because that’s the Christensens, the family with preschoolers who got suspended.
You call the therapist, even though you are one, and have a family meeting with people two feet tall, and try to be very serious about the whole thing – because it is – even though it’s also really funny because the teacher was asking for it. You don’t say that part, though, because that’s not appropriate, is it? Then you say a little prayer, thanking Heavenly Father for the nursery workers at church, because your sweet baby daughter only acts shy there and doesn’t actually bite or kick or scream or hit.
Except at you.
And when you think that’s settled, the phone rings again, and this time it’s about a first grader.
A first grader who maybe locked another child in the bathroom stall for because he saw that child being mean to his sister.
Bad guys who are mean to girls go to jail, mom. You said so!
And when you think that’s settled, the phone rings again, and this time it’s about another first grader, maybe one who confused his new hand brace with lunch, maybe one who thought it was funny to try out a swear word during the math test, maybe one who thought it was okay to throw a baby fit – just in case that got him out of the math test.
And when you think that’s settled, the phone rings again, and this time it’s about another first grader, maybe one who took stickers from the dentist to school in effort to try and bribe people to be friends with her because everyone is mean to her for “talking deaf.”
It might be the kind of day you get to the elementary school office at 2pm to discover all three of your children in the principal’s office, crying.
It might be the kind of day when all their emotions come flooding out, about which grownups love them and which ones don’t, about who will play with them and who won’t, about how scared they are for the baby, about how worried they are that the baby and I will go away again. Maybe they still don’t entirely believe you that we really live here and won’t be homeless tomorrow, maybe they still don’t entirely believe you that they are really safe now, and maybe they are scared we won’t have enough food – even when you take them back to look at all the food storage we have, just in case.
It might be the kind of day when all five of your children get suspended, excepting three are on IEP’s so they can’t be suspended. So maybe when you pick up your kids you sign the homeschool papers, because God told you to, even though that seems crazy as all get out.
Maybe it’s the kind of day when the principal doesn’t really try to stop you, and maybe it’s the kind of day when he reaches a little too quickly to open the door for you on the way out.
It might be the kind of day when you have to pray and discern what is behavior and what is trauma, what is acting out and what is crying out, what is children needing to be gathered and what is children needing to be grounded.
Maybe there is vomiting and diarrhea involved, and you blame the flu shots a few weeks ago for all of it.
Maybe you almost sort it all out when the church calls and asks for five different articles by 6pm your time, and maybe that’s only an hour away with other work yet to do.
Maybe it’s the kind of day when motherhood seems more messy than shiny, and all of it hard.
That’s the kind of day we had around here, with this little punk baby and her punk siblings.
Someone surprised us with dinner, fresh and healthy and staying down in my body and gobbled up by children, and it was a holy moment for us.
We read our scriptures, and prayed, and they all went to bed, exhausted.
Except for the baby, who suddenly thinks her bedtime is just a nap time, so that she is wide awake from about 8pm to 11pm, even though only weeks ago it was definitely sleeping time.
But here she is, not sleeping.
And I am just the mom, so what do I know?
Nothing. Definitely nothing about motherhood.
Except that I am supposed to keep trying.
So I will. Maybe.
If we all make it to morning.