Becoming a new mom was probably one of the most magnificent experiences of my life. It was a time filled with wonder and worries, anxiety and excitement. Yet, in the midst of all these mixed emotions, I could only envision moments of tenderness and pure love with my soon-to-be newborn. Sure, motherhood would be difficult and there would be great challenges, but I was certain love would conquer all. I soon learned that simple moments of prayer would be the best source of grace and much-needed strength that would get me through the toughest moments that lay ahead.
The day finally arrived. Our first son was born. Then, less than two years later, we were blessed with another baby boy. We had our share of sleepless nights and “napping while baby napped” simply didn’t suffice. Even so, my heart was brimming with love. I reached out to friends who were veteran moms and they helped me through the rough spots. But indeed, it was prayer that always gave me a sense of peace and reassurance. During quiet nap times or while our youngest son nursed, I spoke to God. Those were my moments of great grace, and they saw me through.
Soon, my oldest son was on the threshold of toddlerhood. I was ready; I had read every book I could get my hands on about the “terrible twos.” Although I was up for the challenge, nothing could prepare me for the reality that was before me. Overnight our son morphed into a mini-tyrant. What had gone wrong? Our toddler got up “on the wrong side of the bed.” Every. Single. Morning. There was nothing we could do to please him. Nothing!
Day-to-day life continued just the same. I refused to allow my son’s tantrums to rule my life and rob me of my peace. I was in control as I ran my errands as usual. I acted as if all was well despite carrying a flailing, screaming toddler under one arm and an awkward car seat in the other. Don’t get me wrong, it was onerous. At times, it felt like I had been coerced into signing up for a full on military boot camp; only, the drill sergeant happened to be a snot-nosed, three-foot toddler that I had birthed just two years earlier. My days of quiet conversations with God were long gone.
It was during one of these harried afternoons that it happened. We had just gotten home after a chaotic day. I was trying to pin my son down for the umpteenth time so that I could strip him of his winter garb. Then, it was as if time stood still. I entered another dimension. I was transported straight into a scene from the old Incredible Hulk series. I began to mutate. My eyes started bulging; my body began to tremor and my voice lowered an entire octave as strange sounds arose from my throat. It was like an out-of-body experience.
Soon I had turned into a roaring, screaming, lunatic. I became unhinged as I started yelling “Stop! Stop! Stop!” With each “stop” I progressively yelled louder. I finally pinned my son down with one hand and angrily yanked off his jacket, hat and gloves with the other. I was exasperated! I continued on, and yelled again, “Would! You! Stay! Still! That is enough already!” My son was transfixed as he watched my face contort in anger. Then, I was done. I let him flee as I slumped over, exhausted, defeated and ashamed.
Patience was never my virtue. Somehow, I had assured myself that the sweet, tender moments would surely tame the hulk inside. I was dead wrong. I had gone so far as to give up my precious grace-filled moments of prayer, when I needed them most. Everyone knows the toddler years are some of the toughest. If nothing else, I should have made time to pray precisely because it was rough. Yet, now I found myself yelling often and I was hurting my children in my anger.