The carpet of the spare room rose up to meet me as I threw myself down, and wet it with lavish tears of anger and frustration. My toddlers, three and one, were alternately perplexed and upset by my outburst. Even my husband was brought upstairs that morning from his basement office by my roars. He calmed the girls while I tried to pull it together.
"It's just so hard," I said. "They're driving me crazy. I can't take this anymore."
My "tantrums" were happening more and more often. I was ashamed of my behavior, but I felt powerless to change it. The demands of mothering two very needy toddlers had totally undone me.
I wasn't in any kind of meaningful relationship with God then, so it's no surprise I didn't have any reserves to draw on.
No heavenly shoulder to cry on.
No wisdom of the scriptures to lean on.
No bond of prayer to connect me to a sympathetic divine ear.
Not long after that outburst, my neighbor invited me to a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) meeting at a local church. I went, joined, and have been a MOPS member ever since. My girls are now 5 and 7, and they're joined by a five-month-old little brother.
Since I joined MOPS, I started praying and cultivating a relationship with God again. I joined a gym and lost 10 pounds. (Well, ok, I need to lose that 10 pounds again, but this time it's baby weight.) I discovered new hobbies. (I learned how to sew and how to do both traditional and digital scrapbooking.) I completed the First Place for Health Bible Study. I ran in the Pittsburgh Marathon (ok, the marathon relay). I co-directed our church's Vacation Bible School for two years.
And I was blessed to be able to continue my freelance writing career, carefully balancing incoming projects with babysitting, cobbled together from high-school students after school hours, in-laws during the day, and my husband on nights and weekends.
This fall, for the first time, I don't plan to sign up for MOPS. I do have mixed feelings. MOPS was a life-saver for me in the beginning, but, after four years, I was starting to feel like the "old-timer" in the room. Though I do have a baby again, I don't feel that intense need to bond with others over the early years' details that I once did, simply because I've done it twice before. (Don't get me wrong, though: I know that doesn't qualify me as an expert. And, don't be surprised, MOPS members, if you find me slinking back through your doors with my tail between my legs, at some point. I know babies get infinitely harder once they become mobile, and I reserve the right to change my mind!)
What I could definitely use is a support group for mothers of elementary-schoolers. MOEs, anyone?
But, I am signed up for a new Bible study--and I'm getting into my newest hobby, DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) photography, with a course at the local community college. I can't wait.
I have to admit, though, I still do the mommy monster roar every now and again. But, I'm not ready to throw in the maternal towel again. To give up. Like I was once. I know God has my back.
In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.
2 Samuel 22:7
Dear Lord: I pray for mothers, the world over. Please give us strength and wisdom, patience and compassion. Help us to know that our work matters. Remind us to lean on you when we are weak or tired and be nurtured, but also inspire us to take on new challenges that invigorate us. I also ask that you bless the many MOPS groups preparing for their new "year." May the women there form new friendships, learn more about your love, and feel refreshed and renewed after each meeting. Amen.