It is good.
Those three, simple words have changed the way I will look at my children forever.
But I’ll get to that in a minute.
As you may or may not know, I have four, small children, ages six and under. This past week with my little ones was especially rough. Their dad wasn’t out of town… No one was sick, believe it or not… No one had a bad day at school… They had absolutely no solid reason for the kind of behaviors I was seeing consistently – back-talk, naughty faces, physical altercations between siblings, screaming, throwing things, and the mother of all meltdowns.
Tuesday was the day that took home the prize for “The Day I Thought I Wasn’t Going to Make It as a Mother.”
You know the kind – your husband calls to let you know that he’s on his way home for work, and you kind of hate him, because he spent his day around civilized people, being only responsible for himself, probably enjoying trips to the bathroom ALONE… kind of makes you want to hurl insults or at least growl come 5 PM. It was that kind of day.
It started with the “dreaded car nap.” Don’t you loathe those? They are awful. Unless your destination is over an hour away, frankly, they are the devil. Your kids fall asleep 20 minutes into your 40 minute drive, and even though you wake them with kindness and delicacy, they behave as though they are mercilessly being ripped limb from limb or being forced to sit on hot coals. They scream. They hit. They look at you with the stinkiest of stink-eyes. The “car nap” is, like I said, the devil.
My very loved, almost three-year-old, is the bless-ed child that decided I deserved the devil for disrupting her slumber as we arrived at her sister’s weekly violin lesson. There’s a great, little coffee shop beneath the music room and so, being the understanding mom that I am… ah-hem… I decided to treat the girls to hot chocolates before going up to the lesson. The four of us sit together in the waiting room and read stories while Isla has her lesson, so a spontaneous treat should have been appreciated. Read: It should have bought me some sanity. Infer: It did not.
We had five minutes to spare. Let’s just say, we were ten minutes late (so the craziness lasted for 15 very unpleasant minutes), and I wanted to crawl into a hole and give up on all-things-motherhood. My strong-willed child screamed for those 15 minutes s.t.r.a.i.g.h.t. There was no breathing. There was very little standing, and there was zero control on my end. ZERO. It was horrendous. I struggled to talk to the barista, who was literally ten inches away. A stranger commented that I “need an assistant or something.” Or something…he was probably thinking dog leashes and tequila. And I ended up helping the only employee mop the floor after the strong-willed child covered the floor with her just-paid-for-beverage. Car nap = devil. All the while, I have my oldest two parading from chair to chair, acting like they own the joint, and a 26 lb. baby on my hip. My head was spinning, my arm was burning, and I may have shed a tear or two.
Driving home an hour later, I thought, “There’s something wrong here. That whole thing just wasn’t normal. I am a terrible parent. I am completely failing her. I am ruining them. These kids are spoiled. These kids are out of control. Where did I go off-track. Is this entitlement or madness? How can I fix this? How can I fix them? I should probably read Dr. Dobson’s book on the strong-willed child. Maybe I need professional help? Maybe there’s some kind of behavioral therapist that can help me? Maybe I should find a babysitter for Tuesday afternoons? I’m never showing my face in that coffee shop again…”
I tell you this long story, because I need to express how desperate I felt. I felt hopeless. I felt like a failure. And I was convinced that my children were doomed.
I asked Google some of the questions above – not gonna lie, and then I went to bed, defeated.
The next morning, I read this beautiful and timely post, by a new friend and fantastic writer, Laura, of The Military Wife and Mom, and it ministered so deeply to the wounds in my mama-heart. It gave me that hope back that I had lost the day before.
And then, the most wonderful thing happened. I heard that familiar voice – God.
God said…it is good.
And everything changed.
I had heard that phrase from Him before. I pulled out my Bible and started at the beginning, literally. It was a story that I had read many, many times. But this morning, it wasn’t just a story – it was a message. For me and now, maybe for you.
Excerpts taken from Genesis Chapter 1, The Creation of the World (emphasis mine):
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good… And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters… And it was so. And God called the expanse sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so… And God saw that it was good.
And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation…” And it was so… And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night…” And it was so… And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth…” And God saw that it was good… And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds…” And it was so… And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” So God created man in his own image… And God blessed them… And it was so. And God saw everything he had made , and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
It got me thinking. It was almost if God was saying, “See? The creation takes time. It’s good, even in its incompleteness…”
Incomplete but good.
God is able, was able, to wave His hand over the deep and say, “Come forth,” and be done. The lights, the waters, the land, the living creatures, the man… He could’ve have done it all in one, mighty blow. He’s God, after all. But He didn’t. He established in the first set of words entrusted to us the gift of process… The grace in progress… The anticipation of good things to come. What a treasure.
Even the hardest stages are just that – stages. Things may seem to be stuck on the “third day” a little longer than I’d like – there may be more darkness than I’m comfortable with, but they are in progress. We, are in progress. The tantrums will become less frequent. Their neediness will begin to fade. I will miss their smallness despite the hard moments that evidently come with it. God didn’t grow bitter and resent the process, why should we? If the Creator himself finds satisfaction in the parts that will eventually lead to the goal, we can too. Each piece of the puzzle is beautiful in itself and lends to the fullness of the final picture. Our kids…our day-to-day lives…might look a little like the boring parts of the outside border right now, and we’re longing for the more interesting pieces that seem to hold more depth…more importance…more substance, but it is this part of the journey that holds the rest together, firmly. Keep building those little souls. Keep building your life, one mundane moment at a time. It is good.
Where we are right now…is good. We’ll get there – wherever “there” may be. For me, “there” looks less like Tuesday. We’ll get to another stage. Until then, it is good. They are good.