If my children don't talk to me for one day, all h--- breaks loose.
They may act like they're fine. They may even ignore me when I return from a three-day absence (I was at the annual Soli Deo Gloria retreat - wish you had been there!).
But then it's nap time.
And Mommy has to run an errand.
And Little Bit realizes I'm leaving again.
And...forget about it. All...bets...are...off. No amount of negotiation could get my four-year-old to calm down. I had to get my five-year-old to Tae Kwon Do, but I couldn't leave her empty-handed, sobbing in her bed (these were genuine sobs, not the "I'm trying to manipulate you" kind). I gently lifted her body, racked with hiccupy breaths, and carried her into my husband and 14-week-old puppy, Willie "Bill" Nelson. I told her I loved her, and, eventually, this is what ensued:
I know...adorable! The little girl needed to sleep. Not only did she nap for two hours, but she also fell asleep without one peep when we put her down at 6:30! I'm not kidding!
Why am I sharing this on my blog? Great question. I think, for two reasons:
First, I confess that I had some of my friends' voices in my head as my daughter sobbed. Those voices say mommies should never leave their babies, homeschooling is best, and attachment is the only way. (This isn't meant to be a political post on your mothering choices. I ask you to quiet any urge to go there and, instead, bear with me as I use this struggle to illustrate a larger point.)
I felt guilty.
How many of you can relate? How many of you feel not good enough as a Mom, no matter what choice you make?
Those voices were combated with the only thing that could silence them - and here's my point, peeps. The voice of God (as I hear Him, which is, no doubt, unique from how you hear Him...and you, and you, and, yes, you) told me something during my time away. He said, "Retreat is a Discipline."
To me, that one little phrase reminded me of what it means to put my trust in Him. When I can't be all things to all people (there for my husband, present for my kids, and the list goes on). When I make a choice that has consequences I don't want. When I have to choose and can't do all.
Choosing to step away from my life - myself - and let it all go is an act of trusting that He'll take care of everything, especially of my kids, even if the re-entry is challenging.
Making Him the center of my life - rather than myself - is my spiritual act of worship.
Second, I'm sharing this story because I had a sort-of profound thought surrounding my kids and their need to talk to me every day. (I'm not naive, folks. I have a feeling this will change as they get older; though, I hope it doesn't.)
"It's like God," I thought.
I know, profound.
Here's what I mean: if I go a day - even just one day - without checking in with Him, without leaning into His comfort, hearing His voice, looking to Him for direction, telling Him how I feel about my life, then I, too, am a basketcase. The smallest thing will set me off. I will lose self control and break down in a tantrum of "me, me, me" until all I can do is sleep. Or sleep walk, making it through my days in an unconscious state in which nothing can touch me.
My point? I hope I remember what it felt like to hold Lily as she sobbed. While it absolutely broke my heart, it also drove home the thought I had had the day before: I need Him even more than she needs me. I can numb myself to the need. I can (sometimes) stretch the time between my meltdowns to longer than a day. But in the end, I fall apart without the daily, consistent time with God we were all designed to experience.
So let's hear it for retreats! The annual kind and the daily ones.