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 and joined. Though my girls are 7 and 9 now, I still look back on MOPS as a turning point in my spiritual life.
When I joined MOPS, I started praying and cultivating a relationship with God again. I joined a gym and lost 10 pounds. 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 Relay once and the Half-Marathon twice. 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.
I haven’t attended MOPS for a couple of years now. (I do have a 2 1/2 year old little boy now, so I am technically still a mom of a preschooler, or a pre-preschooler.) It was just that, after my four or so years of MOPS, I was starting to feel like the “old-timer” in the room. Though I do have a little one again, I just 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.
What I could definitely use is a support group for mothers of elementary-schoolers. MOEs, anyone?
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.
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.
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
Photo: Copyright Elizabeth May, 2012