In Over My Head


I'm in over my head.

It's not a feeling I have all the time. Just some of the time, like now when I'm sitting at the kitchen table surrounded sticky rice, leftover lunch that some child unceremoniously dumped on the floor. 

I was too busy doing other things to notice that the leftover plate of food was dangerously close to a curious 1.5 year old. All it takes is one moment of inattention for everything to come crashing to the floor, literally. 

Sometimes it's as harmless as a messy kitchen floor, other times it's bigger and a scarier (remember this?). For instance, the other day I was sitting on the couch nursing Little Bear with a very fussy Cupcake playing at my feet. She desperately wanted up on the couch with me, but I learned early on that no one is allowed within striking distance of mom while she is nursing. Toddlers are volatile, and if I'm going to get close I at least want my hands free to defend myself. 

Next this I know, I hear the back screen door open. Quick head count. 1-2- where's 3?!?!

I jump up, leaving Little Bear on the couch and stepping on Cupcake. I run into the kitchen to find my little Rooster heading out the back door in his pajamas. Where he was going we'll never know, but he ended up our version of juvenile detention (his bedroom with a baby gate).

For one moment, I stood and just listened to all of my children crying. Rooster from anger at being locked-up. Cupcake from frustration at being dumped and stepped on. Little Bear from sheer annoyance at having his mid-morning meal interrupted. 

Yep, in over my head. 

Of course, these moments are by far NOT the most common, but they are the loudest and most distressing for a mom who just desires happiness and peace. Why can't we all just be happy?!?!

But even happiness doesn't fix everything. There are still logistical problems to having three young children.

Remember those terribly cute Easter pictures I took a few months ago? After spending 15 minutes getting everyone in their church clothes, shoes on, hair fixed, and outside. I discover that my camera battery is dead. Dead, dead, dead. Like, I don't even get a flashing light kind of dead. 

What do I do? I need to go inside and get my iPad, but our backyard doesn't have a gate. Do I make two trips to haul all three kids back inside, most likely kicking and screaming thus ruining my chance for good pictures? Do I take Little Bear inside and leave the big kids outside, hoping they don't make a dash toward the street? Do I take the big kids and leave Little Bear lying outside on the ground alone? 

Or do I give the big kids candy to occupy them, lay Little Bear on a blanket, and make a mad dash inside for my iPad before they realize I'm missing?

Decisions. Decisions. 

Parenting littles often involves making tough parenting decisions. Do I go to the bathroom in peace or do I take EVERYBODY with me to ensure that nothing gets broken?

Parenting littles often requires great physical stamina. I know exactly how much time it takes to sprint down the hallway and give the baby his pacifier back. Incidentally, it's the same amount of time it takes for a two-year-old to scribble all over the coffee table with washable markers. Isn't that funny?

All this to say, parenting three little ones is definitely a challenge. The math just doesn't add up. There is after all three of them and one of me. 

So it's really not surprising that there are days when I feel overwhelmed. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd be drowning right now if I had't already learned how to swim.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. {1Th 5:16-18}
Yeah, I know these verses don't actually talk about swimming, but when your drowning in exhaustion and have reached your emotional limits, they are really the best moves you can have. 

Choose to be joyful. Pray constantly. And whatever happens, just be thankful. 

It's easy to want to complain to let that negative sinful voice in my head tell me I can't do this. It's too hard. I'm too tired. 

If I'm honest with you, the hardest part of parenting three little ones isn't the kids, it's me. Learning to pray before I think, and think before I speak. Being thankful and joyful even when I feel overwhelmed.

Remembering that God is never in over his head, and that his strength and grace is mine for the asking.

So we just keep praying and laughing as much as we can. 

And of course, we just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim, SWIM!

(We also watch a lot of Finding Nemo.)

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