Oh no. What did I "promise"?
" . . . Callie would come over and we'd play in the snow!"
No. Wait. No. I distinctly remember this conversation. I distinctly remember indicating that if there were snow on the ground, her best friend's mom would most likely not be interested in driving her across town to play in the snow. Not to mention that which wasn't said: it stresses me out enough having my own three tromping in and out of the house all covered in freezing wet-ness, let alone three extras. No, I most certainly did not ever agree to a play-date in the snow.
"Well, baby, I don't think that's going to . . ."
"Well, we can at least go play in the snow! I can't wait!"
At this point I had to walk away. I could no longer handle the excitement. Because her snow day dreams and my snow day dreams just had a head-on collision and I couldn't handle the impact.
And this is when living in a semi-depressed state* makes living just hard. I suppose I can't guarantee it, but in my little, deluded brain, other people can handle this. Other people can hear the excitement of their kids and get excited right along with them. They can hurry them back into their rooms and get them bundled up to play.
All I can do is curl up in a ball on the couch and cry.
Because suddenly this snow day took on a whole new meaning.
These children have so many excited expectations to what it means to see snow out their windows. And try as I may to make their dreams come true. I will falter on some minor detail and then these blessings will turn to monsters quicker than I can imagine. And their world is ruined and it's all my fault.
You think I exaggerate, because you can see in the above scenario she handled the change quite well, because they often do, to the surprise of us all. But, depending on the level of exhaustion in these little ones, I am guaranteed at least a handful of arbitrary melt-downs a day - from their favorite food on the wrong-colored plate, to having to take a five-minute break from coloring so they can empty the dishwasher, to not having the right pajama top to wear with their favorite bottoms. It seems that no matter how much parenting success I have, failure is always quick on its heels. Or, at least, failure in their eyes.
Mom has failed me because . . .
On an intellectual level, I understand. This failure is in their heads. The plate color is irrelevant and in no way makes me a bad mom. Doing chores is an important life skill and in no way makes me a bad mom. Clothes are sometimes in the laundry, and their not wanting to wear the clean clothing actually available in their drawers does not make me a bad mom.
But for some reason, in that moment of tears and yelling, all I can do is hear the words, "You have failed me." And all I can manage in response are my own angry words.
Because that fixes the situation.
Which brings me back to the couch of tears as a blanket of white envelopes the backyard. And I can see a future of crushed dreams and Mommy-failures and angry words and hot tears. And I'm crushed before the day can even begin. And all I can know is that I need to be back in bed, saving up energy to handle these crises well, while really hiding from the world so the failure can be pushed aside for at least another hour.
And then He reminds me of the lesson He spoke into my heart just yesterday:
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." (Colossians 3:23)
And not because this is a new verse or because it helps me at all, or is any less burdensome, to feel like I'm supposed to have a worshipful heart in all these endeavors to make them happy, but because it means all these endeavors are not to make them happy.
All these endeavors are for the Lord.
Every action I perform as a mother isn't with the end goal of producing happy children who rise up and call me blessed, but for pleasing the Lord.
So, if I serve them food with love and they react with harshness, it does not matter. I am working for the Lord, not for them.
If I ask them to serve their family and they respond with anger and bitter words, it does not matter. I am working for the Lord, not for them.
If I have presented them with pajamas they don't wish to wear, it does not matter. I am working for the Lord, not for them.
If I have the energy to bundle them out to go outside, but not the energy to bundle myself up and join them, I am not condemned. I work for the Lord, not for them.
Their response should never dictate my own. In my response to their anger, tantrums and disrespect, I am to honor the Lord. Even when it feels like they don't deserve my kindness.
And this rule applies to all people, not just the little dictators living in my home.
Not to say this thought doesn't overwhelm me, either. But I can know my heavenly master is much more forgiving and understanding than the little ones on earth.
So I can breathe deep. And I can face this day. Because as I go about my day with a compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, I can know I am doing this for the Lord, as one of His chosen ones, holy and beloved. I do this for Him. Not for them.
*I say "semi-depressed" because a) I am in a much better place than I was a little over a year ago, but those days of darkness continue to knock on the door of my mind and b) I have never been officially diagnosed with Depression and I do not want to put myself in the same category as others who have most likely struggled with far more than I. Yet I am there, somewhere, wading through this fog.