Do you ever wish for a reset button?
I mean, for real. Something that just takes everything that has transpired throughout your day (or morning, or the 40 minutes since you woke up – depending on the severity of the day and how soon you need such a button) and gives you a re-do. A fresh start. A blank slate.
Today I needed one of those.
One of our pastors mentioned during his sermon on Sunday that he and his wife are coming out of a season of little kids where you’re so exhausted and so sleep deprived and so emotionally depleted that you feel like you just have absolutely nothing left to give.
Boy are we in that season.
Last night, for instance, went something like this:
6:00: put Lawrence to bed
6:30: read stories to the older two and do the bedtime routine.
7:00: clean-up from the day. Sort/organize/dinner dishes/put away the rest of the groceries we didn’t get to earlier in the day
8:00: finally sit down. Attempt to watch a show. Decide we were too tired. Head to bed.
9:00: baby wakes up. Convince him he doesn’t need to actually nurse and put him back to bed
9:30: finally fall asleep
9:50: baby wakes up. Give in and just nurse him out of sheer desperation to just be able to sleep tonight. He’ll be 18 some day and grow out of this, right?
10:30: child A wakes up from a dream. Comfort them. Attempt to go back to sleep.
11:30: child B needs to go potty. But instead of coming and telling you they wander in the hallway and whimper for a while until they can’t hold it any more. Roll back out of bed. Get everything cleaned up. Change child’s sheets even though they didn’t wet the bed because they’re convinced they MIGHT have.
12:15: finally go back to sleep.
2:00: baby wakes up again.
2:30: go back to sleep. Or, well, attempt to because:
3:00: Thunder wakes up older children. Check radar on your ridiculously bright cell phone screen with bleary eyes. Convince them it’s almost done. Fall asleep laying on their floor.
3:30: wake up, stiff from sleeping on a floor and go back to room and attempt to sleep again.
3:35: Thunder wakes up older children again. Go back in their room. Talk to them until it quiets down.
4:00: Go back to bed.
4:30: More thunder and more screaming.
4:45: Husband gets up to get ready for work, so you scrap the idea of sleeping on the kid’s floor and pull them in bed with you instead for hopefully another hour of sleep. (Or the first full hour of sleep you’ve had all night?)
4:45-5:30: Say “be quiet and go to sleep” 14 times per minute. Get kicked, scratched in the face, hear heavy breathing right in your ears. . . get kicked some more. Fix the blankets. Fix pillows. Go back in their room in search of a beloved stuffed animal that got left behind and must be “scared of the thunder.”
5:40: finally, FINALLY doze off
6:00: baby wakes up for the day. Scrap the idea of ever sleeping ever in your life and get everyone breakfast.
And then from 7:00am – 1:00pm deal with repeated arguments, fights, unkind words, a baby who refuses to nap, and everything else that goes along with little sleep and a dreary, rainy day stuck inside with three children under 6.
1:00 pm: sit down at your computer (with your second cup of coffee, that doesn’t seem to be doing much more than your first cup did for your exhaustion) to edit some photos while the kids rest and consider posting something on Facebook about needing a re-set button in an attempt to have someone, anyone, understand just how terrible this whole day has been and how desperately tired you are, when the Holy Spirit inexplicably and distinctly brings the following verse to mind:
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
I kid you not, mid-typing this is what I think of. This verse, of all things.
. . . . . . . . . oh – kay.
<–Backspace <–Backspace <–Backspace
Because, you see, today I don’t NEED a reset button; I AM the reset button. ME. My words. My responses. My answers. How I deal with the over-tiredness of today.
A GENTLE answer turns away wrath, but HARSH words stir up anger.
And there it is.
There has been plenty of anger today. From all parties.
Sure, I could give a million excuses as to why:
I’m short on sleep too, after all. I didn’t even get a chance to shower. I haven’t had a single moment of space to myself in the last 24 hours.
Or I could (unfairly) displace my anger somewhere else:
My husband goes to work and sits in a tiny cubicle away from all these demands while I get to deal with the fighting and the bickering and the over-tired kids in a tiny house non-stop. For HOURS and HOURS and HOURS.
Or, I could lay all of the blame on the kids for everyone’s sour moods, including my own.
I could feel sorry for myself. Justified in my irritation. I could beg the universe for a re-set button.
But, what did that verse say? A gentle answer turns away wrath.
And the truth of the matter is, despite my lack of sleep, I’m called to have that gentle answer. To BE that gentle answer. To shepherd the hearts of a 5 year old with so much pent up frustration and energy from being cooped up inside that he’s taking his boredom out on the house and his sister and anything in his path JUST to cause problems and the almost-4 year old who gets emotionally overwhelmed when she’s overtired and begins to overreact and snip and whine, and the baby who knows that everyone is on edge and begins to fuss and fight and demand attention, banging his chubby little fist on his tray and hollering with the rest of them.
A GENTLE answer.
A gentle answer.
Some of the seasoned moms that I know and greatly respect seem to have that quality. The “gentle answer” quality. The quiet, peaceful, steadiness-in-the-midst-of-the-storms gentleness that I just don’t feel like I have today. Today I have the: “beg someone to take my kids for an hour and run screaming from my house quality.” Not exactly the same thing.
Granted, they probably had their moments when their kids were toddlers too. But I think of them sometimes when I’ve got a baby on my hip and have exerted every ounce of my patience in the past two hours and find myself hysterically shrieking:
“JUST STOP!! STOP! EVERYONE STOOOOOOOP!!!”
Yeah, not moments I’m proud of. But believe me, I have them.
A gentle answer turns away wrath.
And just like that, there’s my re-set button. It starts with me. It starts with MY answers. MY reactions. My guidance and help when they’re overtired and at their wit’s end.
“But, God, I AM too! What about MY wit’s end?”
But even as I ask that question I already know the answer. Because I serve a God who’s strength is shown in my weakness. Who has promised to guide, lead, and help me in my walk with Him, and in my role as a mom. Who’s love for me is perfect. Who’s love for my kids is perfect.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor 12:9)
And it’s that grace that allows US to be our own reset buttons.
It’s not as glamorous or as easy as an actual button would be. But, since when did this mom gig, or our spiritual walk for that matter, come with buttons that did the hard work for us?!
So today my gentle answer is a walk to collect acorns. Letting them pile them in the stroller (that I JUST CLEANED OUT FROM ALL THE SQUIRREL-LIKE KID-NESS AND STICKY HALF-CHEWED PUFFS, YESTERDAY. YESTERDAY. IT WAS CLEAN FOR LESS THAN 24 HOURS!) . . .But, yes, I can clean it again.
A gentle answer.
It’s stopping to admire the bugs and the rocks and the treasures along the way.
A gentle answer.
Making them something special for a snack for after nap/rest times. Physically getting on their level to talk to them about what is going on. Talking through how they’re feeling. Sitting on the floor, ignoring the laundry for an hour or so, and just BEING.
Being that quiet answer.
Reining in my frustration, re-aligning my heart and my attitude to what God is speaking to my own soul and letting Him use ME as the reset button for my house today. Yes, sleep tonight will help everyone. So will me actually finding time to shower later. But for now, for me and for them,
A quiet answer turns away wrath.
And that, that is enough for our today.