He finally fell asleep, tangled up in sheets and tangled up in fear. My long fingers scratched his soft skin, then worked through his matted, tear-drenched hair with a "Sh... Sh... Sh..." Until he finally gave in to the truth that he is safe and "Mama's here", and the name of Jesus is our family's favorite lullaby.
Two hours of afternoon angst, crying fits and flying fists from exhaustion, after his first full day of first grade. And when he went down, the real pain welled up. It began with a quivering chin, then slurred speech and big tears, "I wish I'd never been born, cause I want to stay a three-year old, but I'm 6, which is almost BIG, and won't you hold me, Mama? They made me do so much work today at school... 'put away your math book, now get out your spelling work...'" He sobbed, "please don't send me to school tomorrow with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."
He verbalized his exhaustion in a steady stream of anxiety then finally succumbed to sleep, now here I am typing it out to an army of moms who have their own plateful of worries tonight. But this is mine. At least that's the biggest serving of hard on my plate; with a side of home-schooled kid who couldn't focus, a serving of middle-child who yelled "You're a liar!" when I apologized for not having noodles after I'd promised we'd celebrate his first day of school with this favorite food; and, for dessert, a husband who's out-of-town for the rest of the week.
Yeah, it was a long hard night.
And in the midst of it all I got a text from a sweet young gal with three little ones of her own.
I can't do this anymore.
I'm so tired of it being so hard
and it's just getting harder.
I typed back in a hurry, because I felt her oxygen tank dipping low.
You will, and you can,
and you must. And I will,
and I can, and I must."
It reminded me of the time I'd cried to my dad, "I can't do this anymore. They are all so strong-willed, and I'm not. I'm not strong!" He brought me down to ground zero when he said, "Well, you have to be."
Some days it's just that simple. One foot in front of the other, "Well, you have to be."
And we do have to be strong, but here's the Gospel Truth:
The key to our strength lies smack dab in the midst of our weakness! Because it's our poured-out empty reality that forces us to turn to Jesus each hard day. Letting Him pour right back in.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 2:9
Crumbling into powerful arms at the end of each hard day...
Even now, I just came back down the dark hall from his bedroom again, because he awoke with more tears. Muscles still trembling from the strain of a too-long day. And as I soothed him all over again, I thought about you and the love ministry you have there in your own home. And while I can't literally see through this post into your hard night, hard morning, hard day... I want you to know that I see you. I see you every time I see a pregnant young mom balancing a baby on her hip at target, chasing toddlers at the park, getting 3 squirming miracles out of the car and into church 10 minutes after the choir's been singing. I see you, and think you are doing a wonderful job. Just a smash-up wonderful job loving those kids of yours!
And so am I. But it's hard.
So I'm heading to bed now, trusting that tomorrow's new mercies are waiting for us there. For you and me both! Because mercy brings courage to do it all over again each new day.
The steadfast love of the Lord never fails,
His mercies never come to an end.
They are new every morning;
great is Thy faithfulness.