|"Christmas Rush" by Norman Rockwell|
Look out, kids...
It's the MARTYR MOMSTER!!!!
We all know her. She sneaks into our homes now and then, especially after a rough day of toddler messes, teen drama, and/or lofty plans gone horribly wrong.
Her tale is a sad one, usually beginning on a day full of high hopes. A mother wakes. Her intentions are right, and yet every little thing that can go wrong, does.
It's a tale of woe that is all too familiar...
This past Sunday morning dawned, and though we had gone to bed late the night before, which caused the younger children to miss their baths, I was confident that we could still make it to church on time.
We gathered for family scripture study just after 7am (Sleeping in-- wahoo!) It was Fast Sunday, so that meant that I did not have to make much of a breakfast; just toast for the under 8 years old lot.
Our meetings start at 10:00am, and we send the first wave of people over at 9:30am to save* us a bench in the chapel. *(With more than a dozen people in one family going to church, we HAVE to save a long bench, or we won't get a seat all together!)
I reasoned that two hours would be plenty of time for all 14 people in our house to use two bathrooms. Here's the breakdown:
- Seven individual showers for those individuals over age 10 in the kids' bathroom,
- Three little girls in the master bedroom garden tub at one time, and done in a flash!
- One little boy in the garden tub would be a snap, as long as he didn't think he was getting any play time,
- One quick dunk of the toddler girl who is terrified of water and despises baths,
- Two adults taking turns showering in the master bath shower.
I was optimistic. We could do it!
Two hours later, there was chaos: soggy towels flung far and wide, tears over missing shoes, primping teenage girls, an empty diaper bag, and Mom still un-showered, while untangling bedhead hairdos on five little girls and one little boy.
Dad took the kids that were ready, and I was left behind with the rest.
I'm certain you can guess what happened next.
Melt-downs. Blaming. Yelling. Exasperation. Frustration. Self-Pity.
THE MARTYR MOMSTER HAD ARRIVED.
The irony of becoming an ogress while preparing to worship the Lord was not lost on me. I was well aware of where I was going-- of WHY I was going.
But it was all so UNFAIR! Why did I have to be the one to make sure the little girls' hair was done? Why did I have to make sure each little person was clean?? Why did the little boy need to find his dress shoes instead of throwing on the Batman loafers???
Oh, yeah. Because I cared.
The realization shocked me. It was all so absurd!
Time stood still, though the clock ticked away. The best moment to leave the house for our meetings had come and gone, and I was standing in front of my bathroom mirror making sure that my lipstick was just right, while feeling all kinds of sorry for myself.
I began to LAUGH out loud.
The pouting part of me thought: "But I am doing this to show God how much I love Him!"
But then, the Real Me said: "You are not. You are being hyper-vigilant about your family's outward appearance in an attempt to fit in with the beautiful people in your congregation."
And then I had to stop laughing because I knew the Real me was speaking the TRUTH.
Here I was, letting the Martyr Momster take over and cause hurt and damage to my little ones over something as ridiculous as "looking good."
Ladies, I know I am not alone when I say that we moms don't like it when the Martyr Momster sneaks her way into our homes. But there isn't a woman alive that has not invited this nuisance of a guest in, from time to time.
We may not always be able to keep the Martyr Momster away, but I have been pondering on my experience this past weekend, and have come up with a few tips that might help in the future:
When we started a movie on Saturday night without bathing the kids first, a little voice in my mind reminded me of the upcoming church meetings that would be taking place in the morning. I think I half-heartedly mentioned it out loud at one point, but then I never followed through with doing anything about it.
There have been Saturdays when clothes were gathered and checked for cleanliness, shoes placed carefully, babies washed and dried, and I had a peaceful evening, knowing that I had done all I could do to prepare for the Sabbath Day.
Those days of preparation don't come as often as I'd like them to, but I do know that they can be accomplished. I know for myself that a prepared mother is a happier mother!
Sometimes in all the busyness of life, I forget what is truly important. I am so determined to make sure things look "right," that I lose sight of reality-- I don't recognize that my "fixes" are making things all wrong!
Of course I know that my relationships with my children are more important than whether my children look clean or rumpled. Of course I want my children to be able to feel the the love of God when they attend church meetings, rather than feeling badly about themselves.
In my anxiety to make everything "perfect," I had broken the hearts of my babies.
And that was a sure sign that the Martyr Momster had taken over, and that my priorities were NOT in alignment with my beliefs!
In moments of frustration, my perspective as a mother is very limited. If I am caught up in chaos and self-pity, it is impossible to see the bigger picture-- my view of the eternal disappears.
If I prepare my children for church meetings with the intention of leading them to Christ:
- I will take a moment to dunk the kids on Saturday night before I put the movie on.
- I won't be worried about whether my own clothes are stylish enough and beat myself up over my thinning hair.
- I won't cringe when I see that the five year old has cut herself some bangs-- again.
- I will smile as I recognize the virtuous beauty of my teenage daughters.
- And I will let my little boy wear the Batman shoes.
If I prepare, prioritize, and keep an eternal perspective, we just might avoid seeing the Martyr Momster any time soon.
At least on Sunday mornings.