(Please note: names have been changed to toddler and child and children to protect their identities!!)
This morning I came across a journal entry that I had written more than a decade ago. I had written about a week in my life when my children were very much younger. It starts off like this:
“After a day when it felt like all I had been doing was lifting and fetching children, cleaning house and hanging up the washing I stopped off at an ATM to draw money in order to do food shopping. The machine swallowed and retained my card. I had to go into the bank and be issued with a new card. I was not on my best demeanor by then and it took forever to be issued with a card. The thought did cross my mind as I exited the bank, toddler on hip, that if anyone asked the man who had been dealing with me whether he thought I was a Christian, his answer would have been an emphatic, “Hell no, not her!”
I then went shopping with my toddler. When it came time to pay we had to stand in a long queue. It was one of those shops that have the queue aisle lined with sweets on both sides. I am convinced that if all mothers with young children started to boycott shops that did that, there would be a major change in the interior design layout of shops frequented by mothers with young children. My toddler decided that she wanted a Barbie chocolate. I said no. This is what followed:
“I wanta a Barbie choccie”, “Sorry, but you can’t have one” “I wannntaa a Barbie choccie (progressively getting louder followed by stamping of feet and waving arms) I waaaanntt a Barbie choccie”. It was a very long, slow queue and I could literally hear the people behind me muttering “For heaven’s sake, just give her the darn chocolate – anything to keep her quiet!” I am proud to say that I did not give in, but I did slink out of there with my head hanging down, feeling very embarrassed by my toddler. Needless to add, I did not go into that shop again for the next six months.
From there we went to pick up another child from her playgroup, only to be informed that she had scratched a child earlier in the day and I was shown the nail marks on the back of this child’s neck to prove it. I duly apologized to the mother and scolded my child who by then had forgotten all about it and couldn’t understand why mummy was so upset. That same child by the way now has no fingernails left because the first thing I did when we got home was to cut them extremely short. A bit of forward planning and damage control! At least now when she attacks another child she can’t draw blood. I hate to think what will happen if she ever starts biting other children as I think our dentist will balk at extracting all her teeth!
The week ended by me taking the three children to the beach on the Saturday morning. It is almost impossible to keep an eye on three children simultaneously in a large open expanse. The only thing that benefited that morning were my calf muscles from all the exercise of trying to contain them. The children got to go home with a grumpy, irritable mother.
That night I reflected on the words from Psalm 127:3 “children are a gift from the Lord; they are a real blessing”. God sees children as a gift, a blessing and a reward. If only we as parents would learn to view them the same way”. End of journal entry for the week!
I had to laugh but at the same time, had a feeling of immense sadness overwhelm me, as I read this so many years later. I don’t even remember that week but I do remember that my overriding emotions when my children were young were largely of stress, impatience and tiredness. I wish I had known then what I know now – I would not have ‘sweated’ the small stuff and would have spent less time tidying the house and more time playing.
They truly are God’s love letters to me here on earth and I wish I had spent more time reading the beginning of the letters …………