I periodically hear older Moms talk about the times they blew it with their kids. Times when they were so intent on making a point that they kind of missed the point themselves. Tonight I had one of those experiences.
Because K, P & R start Kindergarten at a new school Monday, tonight we were invited to attend a new student 'ice cream social.' My husband had a long-scheduled work conflict, but it seemed this would be a breeze to attend alone. There was no formal program, no speeches--just ice cream and introductions. How hard could that be?
I failed to consider the energy level and silliness of excited 6 year olds feeding off of one another.
I failed to consider that most of the conversation would be happening at adult eye level while my children were stuck waist high with only one another to talk to (egg on).
I failed to consider the pre-bedtime timeframe when second wind silliness really hits its peak.
I failed to consider what adding huge ice cream sundaes to that combination may yield.
I failed to consider how my own pride and need to have it together and not be the 'poor, haggard, stressed out Mom of triplets' would add unnecessary stress-inducing expectations.
In short, I failed.
My kids were climbing all over me--hugging my legs, pulling my clothes, poking me, interrupting and trying to get me to hold them--simultaneously. I tried several times to take a break and step over to the side with them to reel their energy back in, but it was to no avail. Twice as I squatted down to chat with them I was pushed over onto my fanny as a result of becoming their jungle gym.
After an hour, I threw in the towel and left. As soon as we returned to the car, I had my fairly well-behaved children back. My attitude was sour. My ego was bruised. I was worn out. What just happened?
As we got home and started going through the bedtime routine, I thought back through the evening. Suddenly the factors contributing to all that emotional energy started becoming clearer.
My heart was softened. I regretted my prideful frustration that ranked appearances of 'togetherness' and good behavior over being able to tend to my little people's hearts. My insecurity and fear about 'big moments' having to be split three ways reared their ugly head.
During our devotion before bed I said, "Guys, what was all that craziness about tonight? What is going on?"
I gave each of them a chance to answer.
"I was excited," K said.
"Me too," R echoed.
"I need courage, Mommy," P offered.
As I tucked each of the children in I silently prayed God would make me especially attentive to their hearts. K, my little butterfly, seemed genuinely excited and positive. P seemed a bit more affectionate and clingy. R was almost asleep by the time I made it to his bed. His fingers were 'in the position' in his mouth that signal he is on the edge of slumber.
Just as I was finishing up with R, I heard P talking softly to himself (I thought) on the other side of the room. I listened attentively."I want to know you forever. I just wanna know you forever."
"I want to know you forever, Mommy." I leaned over him and saw tears on his face.
"Baby, you WILL know me forever. I am your Mom."
"How do you know?" he whimpered.
"Well, just like Bee Bee is my Mom and we see her a lot and Grandmother is Daddy's Mommy and we see her."
"But, Mommy," he said as his tear filled eyes looked right into mine, "I just wanna stay with you. Please can I just stay with you?"
I hugged him tight. My heart was broken and yet so in love with that little guy all at the same time. We talked about all of the exciting things he would learn and do this year. I explained that the hours would be just like last year and his brother would be in his class...K would be next door. They will have lunch together and see each other at recess.
He listened then said, "I just love YOU."
So, tonight I am just praying for all the hearts in my home--big and small. May we handle this transition with courage and grace. I don't want to overly dramatize this or come across as overly emotional. I am just being honest. This is harder than I thought it would be. I want to handle this transition well--and I can honestly say that God is bringing my motive into focus.
In writing this and confessing some of my mixed up motives I am able to really focus on what matters--making sure each of my children can reach this milestone in their own way--feeling individually loved, celebrated and supported. Indeed there is only one Mommy to do this simultaneously for three of them--but God knew that when He entrusted them to our care. That knowledge is enough for me. I will trust Him to lead us in how to love them best.