That hour of the day. If you're a mother, you know the one I mean. The inevitable moment in every day when fatigue, understimulation, and low blood sugar combine with a mother’s inability to immediately respond to any of the above and just like that all of the children go absolutely insane. My mother used to call it witching hour. It typically happens right when I’m trying to prepare dinner. Naturally.
This evening’s witching hour is worse than usual. It comes at the end of an already exhausting day (I reheated my coffee no less than seven times!) and is exacerbated by the fact that the children haven’t napped, our pantry is experiencing a snack shortage, and I have inexplicably chosen this evening to prepare an overly complicated dinner involving actual prep work. I’m sure you’ve been there. Blood sugar dangerously low, repetitive toddler demands flying, tempers raging, tiny people underfoot tripping up and slowing down the dinner preparation process, and this mama barely gripping to the edge of her sanity. Macaroni and Cheese was invented for days like this. I should have taken advantage.
Unable to take one more hunger-induced tantrum, I do what any modern mother in my situation typically does. I turn on the television. Cartoons to the rescue!
Less than three minutes after I’ve temporarily placated my toddlers with a mind-melding cartoon involving singing crayons, I hear a frightening phrase coming from my one-year-old’s mouth: “Uh oh!”
I stick my head around the corner of the kitchen to see she is standing near the television holding an open tub of raisins she had apparently snuck out of the pantry. The tub, now upside down and empty, had definitely been nearly full at snack time just an hour ago. Nearby, our 30 lb sheltie dog chomps something with her snout, takes one last swallow, and licks her lips with a satisfied burp.
Did you know raisins are extremely poisonous to dogs? Fun factoid.
My husband arrives home to the demand that he immediately turn around and take the dog to the vet while I feed the kids. I can’t even deal with this right now. My day has been insane. And now we get to add a $300 vet bill to the mix. We can’t afford that. Maybe we can find another solution.
Dinner (finally!) in the oven, I start googling “dog ate raisins” on my phone while my toddler pokes her grabby fingers at the screen. Yanking the phone away at every attempted poke, I finally snap at her. “LEAVE MAMA ALONE AND GO PLAY! MAMA IS TRYING TO SAVE THE DOG!”
She bursts into tears. I don’t even tend to her. I am that overwhelmed.
My husband straps the girls into their booster seats at the table while we learn that hydrogen peroxide (1 tsp per 10 lbs of dog) can safely induce vomiting in a dog. We don’t have any hydrogen peroxide in the house so my husband valiantly drives to the drug store while I attempt to get dinner on the table and into the mouths of my screaming children.
Screaming is probably an understatement at this point. I’m considering calling an exorcist to stop the demonic noises emanating from my children’s mouths. Instead, I open my mouth, close my eyes, and scream the common table prayer right over the din.
“COME LORD JESUS BE OUR GUEST!”
My children don’t fold their hands. They don’t bow their heads. They just scream demonically while I finish the less than heartfelt prayer. Some type of chicken is placed on the table; my two-year-old protests that she doesn’t like it and won’t eat it. Eventually, she picks up a fork, and the room settles into some semblance of silence once more.
My husband returns with the hydrogen peroxide, and I decide that now would be a great time to make the phone call to the computer store about a repair that I’ve been trying to schedule for days. Because I’m a glutton for punishment.
The store puts me on hold, of course, and what sounds like Taylor Swift singing into a tin can belts from my speaker phone just as the chicken runs out and the children start screeching again. My three-month-old is wailing the loudest so I pop my boob in his mouth and attempt to focus on Taylor Swift’s tin can concert just in case she should morph into a helpful computer repair person.
Just because we need more chaos in our lives, the dog runs into the middle of the living room floor, hydrogen peroxide beginning to take effect, and starts pooping.
The Apple store representative chooses precisely this moment to come back on the line. “Hello?” he asks. What he hears in reply probably sounds like “ARRAGGHAARRAHAAAAAAAANOOOOOOOOOOO!” as my husband and I chase the dog around the living room, dodging Tootsie Roll poops while attempting to wrangle her outside. “Hello?” he asks again.
In this disordered moment, my husband and I dodging poop while our three children scream, two covered in chicken, one still attempting to breast feed, with an inexplicably calm computer repair person asking ‘hello?’ in the background, I find myself giggling with a strange wish that has overcome my frustration.
I wish I had a camera. If I had a camera, I would take a picture, or perhaps a video, of the scene and I would post it to Pinterest under the heading “chaos.” And I would find it inspiring.
How can I find utter chaos inspiring? Headings like that don’t exist on Pinterest, do they? Because chaos isn’t inspiring. Inspiration, according to Pinterest, is a well-ordered, color-coded bookshelf or a craft project sure to win you Mother Of the Year or a recipe for scrumptious fudge brownies. Yet whose life is pretty all of the time?
I don’t know about you, but as much as I love to look at well-ordered pictures of beautiful things, my life only resembles them maybe 1% of the time. The rest of the time, my life is chaotic, frustrating, humbling, crazy, beautiful, surprising, and full of mistakes, bumbles, errors, and spur of the moment decisions. Sometimes life is so ridiculous, so messy, so over the top that I can only look around and exclaim to no one in particular. “Do you see this? Do you see what I’m going through?”
“No one in particular” never responds, of course. Realizing this, I take my crazy life and bring it to my God instead. He not only hears me, he answers me. Do you see how that works? It’s the imperfect chaos in life that reminds me regularly of my need for Jesus. Without imperfection in the world, I wouldn’t need him. But I do, and that need is beautiful.
If God can love me, and my husband, and my children, and my friends, and even my enemies, despite the chaos we continually create and the mistakes we relentlessly make, then He is truly an amazing, merciful God. This mercy in the face of my imperfections motivates me to do better for myself, my husband, my kids, and my God. Without my need for Jesus, without my ultimate goal as a mother to raise my children to know Him, and my goal as a Christian to share his love with others, my life lacks purpose. Even the prettiest bookshelf in the world cannot inspire me without that purpose.
Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by a blog, post, or pin that leaves you feeling inadequate instead of inspired, remind yourself of your purpose here on this earth as a Christian woman. May God’s undeserved love inspire you to fulfill this purpose each and every day!
Have you experienced any chaos in your life lately? Has the chaos in your life been defeating or has it brought you closer to Jesus?