Thursday, November 10, 2016

Bed Bugs & Cactus Spines

Earlier this week I sat cross legged in our shower and watched the water pour down in droplets over my bare pregnant belly. Reaching the third trimester milestone seems to have propelled me into the equally scary and exciting reality that this baby is coming....and soon. As I sat there letting the water fall on and around me, I leaned down to my belly and found myself whispering the words, "I hope you are ready to join this crazy circus, Sweet Baby.  You are in for quite the ride!"  I was both laughing and crying in that moment.

This has been a week for the parenting history books in our home.  Sometime, in the distant future, I'm sure I'll look at my husband and ask, "Remember that week.... the week with the hives and the cacti and the Donald and all the puking...?  How did we make it through that week?" 

But for now,  I'm still in that week.  I'm still living it.  And I'm trying so desperately to find the humor hidden beneath all of the tears and the exhaustion and the countless times I've asked, "Can't this week be over already?"

On Monday, our 7-year-old daughter came home from school with bright red welts covering her neck and arms.  I'm not usually the panic driven mom type but being nearly 10 weeks out from welcoming our first "winter baby" was enough to propel me into diagnosing whatever plague had just entered our home.  Every imaginable scenario began to play out in my head.  Could the welts be an allergic reaction to something on her clothes?  Maybe she accidentally ate gluten?  The start of Chicken Pox?  Hand Foot and Mouth disease? Bed Bugs?  Oh good heavens, please not Bed Bugs.  This possibility led to the stripping of every bed sheet, pillow case and dust ruffle in our home.  We overturned mattresses, took the shop vacuum to every nook and cranny and washed all of the bedding in extra large loads.  Nothing.  Not a bug.  Not a spec of feces.  But this was four days ago and the red welts are still popping up with no answers in sight. 

On Tuesday, we made the decision to keep Hives Girl home from school.  Midway through the day, our little family of four was at each other's throats.  Lots of bickering, whining and an overabundance of tears from both the kids and me. In an effort to get out of the house and away from the television's constant coverage of Election Day, we decided to take a walk to Andy's for our favorite frozen custard.  And everything was going well...until it wasn't. 

We stopped along a creek to let our hyper lab puppy splash in the water and let out some pent up energy.  As Boston bounded back up the bank towards us to do the classic "dog water shake", our youngest (middle child-to-be) stumbled backwards in an attempt to stay dry.  It was then that he unknowingly tumbled right onto...wait for it...

A cactus. 

If you can picture the scene in slow motion -- my husband and I went lunging for him in a failed attempt to break his prickly fall.  The look of horror that washed over his 3-year-old-face in that moment was downright pathetic, the dog completely unaware of the chaos that she had just unleashed. 

And... end slow motion... cue the shrieking Preschooler. 

I immediately go for his pants, ripping them from his waist, while my husband holds him down in attempt to thwart his thrashing. Long cactus spikes lodged so deep that they began to break in half as I attempt to dislodge them, leaving shards of cacti in his swollen legs. 

At this point, the humor begins.  As little man is shrieking, I throw up my hands in complete disbelief.  My husband has himself stepped backwards and has now found his own legs caught in the thorns of the cactus.  Mack, with her own bright pink welts is standing nearby helplessly as I am now trying to figure out which of the men in my life needs more rescuing. 

The dog... still clueless, bounding in the water nearby. 

It is then that Levi begins to scream, " AM I GOING TO DIE?  IS IT TIME TO DIE NOW?!"

And, I officially lose it.  I find myself again, somewhere between laughing and crying hysterically.  The week can only go up from here....right? 

Wrong.  Oh. So. Wrong.

Fast forward to Wednesday.  I am in the car pool lane, on a time crunch.  I have exactly one hour to get both kids home, fed dinner and out of pajamas. Yes -- little man is still in his pajamas at 4 pm.  Remember, it's been that kind of week.  We have to be at our local bookstore for a 2nd grade performance and it's imperative that we not look like hell even though that's what this week has felt like so far.  

I look to the backseat from my rear view mirror and can immediately tell that something just isn't right.  Cactus boy has turned flush red and is alternating between doing this weird mouth gagging thing while also insisting urgently that he needs to pee. 

I immediately go into mom mode.  I'm stuck in a line of cars half a mile long with a 3-year-old who is about to start vomiting while also threatening to pee his pants.  I throw my car into drive and pull through the bright orange "DO NOT ENTER" cones that block off the back corner of the school parking lot.  I quickly dump a grocery bag of it's contents onto the car floor and I shove the bag at Cactus boy, instructing him to aim for the inside of the bag.  The vomiting begins.  I've climbed out of my SUV at this point and have dumped a Starbucks cup of it's contents and have instructed him to aim his little man parts and pee inside of the cup....while simultaneously puking into the grocery bag. 

Now officially late for school pickup, I strip Cactus Boy down to his underwear and strap him back into his car seat.  As Hives Girl climbs into the car, I instruct her to, "Hold the puke bag for your brother."  At this point, she begins to cry hysterically at the realization that A. She will be missing her class event and B. At my lovely "We're a family, so we hold one another's puke bag" speech. 

Mom of the year award right here. 

Eventually, little man has covered himself so much in vomit that I have to pull into yet another parking lot corner, strap him illegally into the middle non-car seated seat, all the while, praying on the life of my third child that we do not get pulled over on the way home.  Because... #momjail

This morning, after forcing myself out from under my covers, after more tears rolled down my cheeks at the thought of another day like the past several, my husband sent me back to bed with coffee and my Bible.  I had to re-read this verse from Isaiah 40:11 over and over and over.

"He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; He gently leads those that have young." Isaiah 40:11  

Then I had to cross reference this verse with the story from Genesis 33:12-15 where Jacob had to firmly tell his overeager brother Esau that he would not be rushing his family through a journey that would ultimately bring them harm.

"Then Esau said, 'Let us be on our way; I'll accompany you.'  But Jacob said to him, 'My lord knows that the children are tender and that I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young.  If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die.  So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the droves before me and that of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.'"

This week has been a week of so much disappointment and discouragement.  There have been a lot of canceled plans and saying, "No" to previously committed to engagements.  I've had to let friends down who have been counting on me. I've disappointed both kids as we've been forced to stay huddled at home to rest and take it easy and heal. 

If this has been a similar week for you, I hope you'll take heart not in my words, because truly I have none.  I'm just that mentally spent.  I hope you'll be encouraged by the words in Isaiah 40 and Genesis 33.  These words of encouragement from a God who DOES see us daily, who cares for us and our momma hearts as we lay down our lives to be intentional in our mothering even on the really hard days, during the most difficult months and seasons. 

These are words that I'll likely have to keep reading throughout seasons of motherhood similar to this one. The seasons where everything just seems heavy and the exhaustion seems endless.  The ones with the bed bugs and the cacti and the puking.  I know there will be more of these and harder ones too. 

Today, I'm choosing to keep coming back to these words, to be gentle with myself as God is gentle with me.  I'm choosing to show myself and my husband and the kids grace.  I'm choosing to laugh at the really funny moments -- Like when one child is screaming, "IS IT TIME TO DIE?"  ...And to also allow myself to cry in abundance and let the tears flow when those are so desperately needed. 

I think one of the most difficult parts of being a writer is my desire to tie every story up in a neat little bow.  Complete with words of encouragement and a happy ending. 

But the truth is, I don't have much of that this week.

I have funny stories to share about bruised little legs with cactus spikes still lodged deep inside.  I've got a car seat sitting by the side of my house that still needs to be hosed off.  This morning, Hives Girl woke up with more red welts....but we still have no idea why.  I'm 7 months pregnant and I am freaking out about bringing another baby into this chaotic mess of a family. I am completely exhausted and just feeling so incredibly discouraged. 

But I'm choosing to believe that this is perfectly okay.  Maybe life doesn't need to be wrapped up in a pretty bow.  Maybe it's okay to sit in the messy and the mundane and to lift up my hands in complete surrender and to just trust that it's all going to be okay.  That I'm being held by a God who is gentle with me and on the all the days that I'm struggling to do this life well, HE is leading our little family. 
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  1. Thanks so much for sharing your messy. Thanks for showing us how God doesn't deliver us from the struggles of life, but walks through them with us. May you continue to seek him, demonstrating to your children and others your reliance on God for strength and endurance.

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