Thursday, March 23, 2017

At War with Mittens

By Emily Donehoo

In the current series at Flatirons Church, Jim Burgen defined war as:

 “A struggle to achieve a goal.”  

If what he’s saying is accurate, then parenting is a long and difficult war. If you don’t agree, come over to my house around 8 pm and watch while my freshly bathed and lotioned 4-year-old streaks through the house screaming, “FREEDOM!!!” while the rest of us chase him up and down the stairs trying to put pajamas on our slimy, wriggling freedom fighter. 

Better yet, come watch while I attempt to get all three kids out the door on time in the winter. Why winter? Because the battle includes mittens, and mittens will be the death of me. No one ever seems to know where BOTH of their mittens are. One mitten is always appropriately placed in the mitten bin, while the other is SOMEWHERE out in the abyss. The mitten situation generally unfolds like this:

Child 1: (whining and bursting into tears) I can’t find my other mitten.

Mom: Did you look in the bin?

Child 1: (with “I’m not an idiot” tone)Yeah.

Child 2: I’m hungry.

Mom: Do you have your socks, boots, hat, mittens, and coat on?

Child 2: Yep!

Mom: Go get a snack and get in the car.

Mom: (frantically pulling everything out of the bin while Child 1 literally picks his nose) 

Mom: (sniffs child 3) Did you poop in your pants?

Child 3: (turns, runs upstairs, and hides under the covers)

Clock: Tick, tick, tick, 

Child 1: (Flops on ground whining and crying) IT ISN’T IN THERE!!!

Mom: Look in your backpack, then look in your coat pocket. Then look under your bed. (Thinks: Is child 2 choking on his snack in the car? Is someone going to come open the garage door and steal my child out of the car and sell him into sex slavery? Emily, don’t ever tell your child to go get in the car without you!    

Child 2: (Walks in from the garage) I have to go poop!

Child 1:  You took my boots!  Those are my boots!  Give them back!

Child 2: They are not!  These are mine! 


Child 2: Mommy, where are my boots?

Mom: (yelling from upstairs) I DON’T KNOW!  YOU ARE 9 YEARS OLD, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO KEEP TRACK OF YOUR OWN BOOTS!!! (pulls back comforter revealing a poo-covered disaster zone)

When the poo is cleaned up, the mittens and boots are found, the swear-words have been muttered under my breath, and the children have been screamed at so much that my voice is hoarse, I stand outside the car door battle-scarred, and dripping sweat wondering, what am I even fighting for? 

In my war effort, what is the goal I am trying to achieve?

The truth hit me like a grenade. 

I thought I was fighting for my kids' best interest. I thought I was doing my best. Turns out, the battle I'm fighting is about proving to the world that I am good enough. Because most times, when I fight against my children I'm really fighting my own failures, my own disappointments, and my own fears. I fight against them when we aren’t on time because the voice in my head says I should be better at this by now. I am not good enough.  

But that battle was fought and won over 2000 years ago. What Jesus did for me already proved that the messy-haired mom who screams at her kids, is covered in goo and shows up 15 minutes late is enough to literally die for. And those arguing kids who can't find their mittens and always seem to have to poop are enough to die for too. Maybe if I remind myself about that, I'll be able to remember who and what I'm fighting for.

Emily Donehoo is the only female in a family of five. She is a former High School English Teacher and National Trainer for the College Board. These days, when she isn’t scrubbing toilets, administering timeouts, working at book fairs, attempting to tackle dinner, laundry, homework help, dishes, and a preschooler’s incessant questions, she writes authentically about the hard stuff that really matters, hoping to uncover the truth that God has for us whether it makes us cry from laughter, pain or both at the same time. Read more of her writing here

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