Her voice was a whisper, “What are you doing?” I whispered back, “Not much, what are you doing?” In a guilty voice, she explained she was calling from the garage because she was hiding from her five-year-old twin boys, who had just removed the bedroom door from its hinges while having a ‘quiet time.’ They hadn’t busted the door, they had actually removed the screws using parts of their Junior Explorer Tool Set.
“I think my kids might be wild Indians, and I decided to eat Oreos in the garage. It’s me that needs the quiet time.” Her voice sounded guilty, so I reassured her that I had had similar thoughts. I remembered standing in the middle of the kitchen watching a tantrum from my daughter that had reached biblical proportions and wondering what it would be like to move to Australia. Why Australia? Because it was the farthest away place I could think of.
Parenting is like this sometimes. It’s a conundrum of the happiest moments of your life mixed with ones that make you want to run from the room screaming. How many times do I have to repeat myself? Who the heck is listening to me anyway? I can’t even get the dog to mind, what the heck am I doing? If you’ve ever had thoughts like this, you’re not alone.
I think back to a moment I had one night tucking my son into bed. In a tangle of blankets, he was engulfed in a serious conversation with GI Joe and Stretch Armstrong. But what caught my attention was a wrinkled piece of paper sticking out from beneath his pillow. I had played with the idea of writing little notes on the paper napkin that I tucked into his school lunch box, sometimes an “I love you” or a joke I thought was funny. I hadn’t kept it up for long because I wondered if they embarrassed him or if he had maybe not even noticed because he had never mentioned them. When I now pointed to the note that read, “I’ll love you forever,” he said, “O yeah, I kept that one because it was my favorite.” And then he smiled.
I think back to that moment often. There were so many times as a mom I felt like a complete failure, like what I did didn’t matter, like no one noticed. For me, that crumpled napkin was a sign of hope. Maybe I was making a difference even when it didn’t feel like it. It reminded me that what I do today matters, and that tomorrow will not always look like today. It reminds me still that running off to Australia might feel like a good idea at the time, but if I hold tight to God’s hand and stick with it, there’s hope.
And I highly recommend an occasional bag of Oreos.
Sherry Surrat serves as the CEO of Mothers of Preschoolers International (MOPS), where her passion for moms and helping women reach their leadership potential shines through. She has two wonderful children, Mike and Brittany, a beautiful daughter in law Hilary, and a most brilliant granddaughter Maggie Claire.