for when you’re failing at everything

this morning, before I was actually awake, I scrubbed the bathroom floor where all the mouse poo was. we have a cat, a stupendous hunter, usually.  I don’t know if she’s on break or what, but I had to clean up after she let this little guy slide.  i’m taking it out of her pay.  thank you, cat.  you have failed this city.

then, before the tile was dry, I turned around to witness the fallout of not one but both of the refrigerator door railings coming off, sending all but a couple stoic salad dressing bottles left standing when the 5-year-old went in search of milk.  minutes before, I made the in-house toddler shut the fridge;  no, I didn’t want to unwrap butter or chase his heft of bowling ball cabbages for the forty-seventh time.  it was a little early in the day.  when you are two & mama tells you “no”, you have two choices.  ambivalence or rage.  you can guess which set up the entire contents of the refrigerator door for their bold leap to catastrophe.  by the grace of God (you think i’m joking but I assure I am most certainly not), only the pickle jar met its end.  pickle blood all over the ranch, the milk, the ketchup, the cod liver oil.  gallons of ungodly yellow-green pickle blood.

this was after the mouse poo, remember.
all before breakfast.

as I knelt barking orders at my soldiers children, I thought about how I really had two choices at that point.  (one of them was not vacation.)  I could either carry on as sergeant, or I could draw them in (kids, not pickles) & actually connect with them over this current ridiculousness.  because it truly was ridiculous.  this can’t be what normal people do.  i’d like to tell you I put down my orange bath towel & all the glass shards, pulled someone into my lap, & we all lived happily ever after.

well.
i’ll not start lying to you now.

I managed us through the pickle fiasco, we went on with our day, & at the end of it, we’d wedged in brownies & icecream.  my kids would call this a win.  I, on the other hand, sat at the piano (where I’ve always done honest thinking) tinkering around & dragging myself yet again through the triggered landmines of our day.

most days are like that.  good, bad, ridiculous.  but at least some part of every day, i’m muddling around in my own, well-cooked vat of failure.  like tonight, after the brownies were brushed off teeth & the toddler was asleep (halle-freaking-lujah.), the five-year-old asked if he could fall asleep in my bed.  baahhhh.  I was just. so. tired.  so I told him he could lay with his big brother, that really mommy’s bed was just too crowded.  he lobbied.  I resisted.  because, please honey.

after he was tucked in beside big brother, both of them little burritos under their turquoise checkered comforter, & he’d actually forgotten about falling asleep beside me, I duked it out with yet another failure:  I could’ve just let him.  what’s the big deal?  why can’t I make it past 9 pm?  how long have I been doing this mothering gig?  you’d think by this stage in the game i’d have come up with some better methods of bedtime, of conserving a little energy, & not being a train wreck at the end of every day.

see?  it doesn’t really matter what it is.
failure’s waiting to drag me under.  mouse poo, pickle juice, barking, bedtime.
it doesn’t matter.
& these are just the minor ones.

so what’s left, then?  well, some days I get dragged down & I stay down.  some days I eat all the popcorn in the bowl.  some days i just do more things:  work harder, push down the failure into the laundry basket or the dirty dishes or the crumb trail leading under the couch.  sometimes I go to bed early & cry for awhile.

but some days, I let Jesus get a word in edgewise, tell me how it actually is.  that i’m not meant for perfection, not yet.
that He gets my failure, & He’ll raise me a whole boatload of joy anyway.
that we’re in this together, this crazy, messed-up, ridiculous set of days.
that there’s an end in sight, even if I can’t see it myself.
We’re in this together, & it’s okay, whatever it is.  He doesn’t care.

& that’s the Voice I have to scrabble to hear.  every day.  because failure is loud.  & insistent.  there will always be thirty seven thousands ways in which I’ve come up short yet again.

but Jesus, He’s quiet.  persistent.  calming.
He’ll love me, give me a hand with my messes, turn them into something better than pickle juice all over the kitchen floor.
& that, I need a whole lot of that these days.

2 thoughts on “for when you’re failing at everything

  1. One day, marinating in the guilt of all the things I’d done wrong as a parent, all the times I’d spoken harshly or said “no” when there was no real reason not to have said “yes”….or any of the multitude of other grevious parenting sins I’d committed, I made note of the ones I thought were worst, and later asked my grown son about those specific incidents. Guess what…he didn’t recall ANY of them! He did recall the times we’d done things together, and he did recall being made to feel loved and being made to feel responsible…and expressed appreciation for that. So…don’t worry too much. You are doing fine!

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