Rubber Gloves For Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day at 5:00 a.m., I was jolted awake by a bang on my bedroom door.  Everyone knows that Mother’s Day is a day to let a mother “sleep in” and feel pampered.  So I ignored the bang and sank down further under the covers.

BANG!  BANG! BANG!  “Mommy!” a tiny voice screamed at the door.

No, this couldn’t  be happening.  Didn’t my kids get the memo?

“Mommy, I need your help.  My bed is all wet,” cried Nate, my four-year-old.

As he opened the door, a familiar, unpleasant smell barged rudely into my room.  It was last night’s dinner in reverse.

“Did you throw up?” I asked incredulously.  Clearly my child was not getting this whole “pampering” thing.

“Yes,” he whimpered.

I brought him into his room to assess the extent of the damage.  Still half-asleep, I couldn’t bring myself to turn on his light.  Somewhere around his bed, the terrain became “unstable,” and my feet quickly reminded me that you should never step into potential mine fields in the dark.  My eyes finally adjusted to the glow of the nightlight, and in a blue-tinged haze, I saw the gruesome carnage of his stomach’s battle with last night’s dinner.  The damage was extensive, an ominous start to my special day.

Flash back to yesterday’s devotional reading.  I had been lounging in my overstuffed chair, sipping hot tea and reading about facing problems with the right attitude.   In retrospect, it’s a lot easier to face problems by reading about them in a comfortable chair while drinking tea.  The actual battlefield is a whole different story.

My devotional had recommended thanking God for problems.  But I must confess that I did not face the vomit-fest with a hearty, “Wow, THANK YOU, Father!  I am so very THANKFUL that this happened so you can teach me to rely on your strength in my moments of weakness.”

I think I uttered the slightly altered version, “WHY ME?!!!”

I had plenty of time to analyze my response while cleaning.   Donning my worn pair of rubber gloves, I was outside spraying down Nate’s things with a hose and scrubbing them with a hard brush.

“Happy Mother’s Day to me,” I sang.  My boys watched from the open window and gave constructive criticism on my cleaning job.

“You missed a spot in the corner,” offered Luke.

Nate was thrilled to discover what he thought was my biggest problem.  “I know what you need for Mother’s Day!  New rubber gloves!”

Later on the boys added to the festivities of the holiday by fighting with each other.  That’s when I realized that I had unrealistic expectations about this holiday. Contrary to what Hallmark would have us believe, Mother’s Day is not a day when our children magically transform into angelic beings for twenty-four hours.  It is not a day for children to bow down and worship at Mommy’s footstool.  Any holiday that focuses on selfishness is going to fail.  Mother’s Day should be a holiday for mothers to reflect on how thankful they are for their children.

I thought about Hannah from the Bible.  Her soul yearned for a child, and she poured her heart out to God for deliverance.

1 Samuel 1:10-11

In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD.

And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty.  If you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life…”

God gave Hannah baby Samuel.  She kept her word, and after Samuel was weaned she brought him to be raised by Eli the priest in the house of the LORD.  She was so thankful for her son that she was willing to part with him and give him back to God.

Here is a mother who was not waiting for breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day.  In fact, her Mother’s Day came once a year when she expected nothing, but rather gave a gift to her son:

1 Samuel 2:19

Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him…. 

God then blessed Hannah and gave her three more sons and two daughters.  I’m sure she had days where her kids got sick and even fought with each other.  But she was a thankful woman indeed.

The more things that went “wrong” on my Mother’s Day, the more I laughed and thanked God for my three children.  They are certainly not perfect angels, but they are my gifts from God. If kids were supposed to be perfect, they would be born with halos.  Instead, they come out of the womb crying – a much more realistic picture of the days to come.

I never want to forget that like Hannah, I  also had once prayed for children, and these imperfect-yet-wonderful kids were the answers to my prayers.

That’s all I really need for Mother’s Day.  And maybe a new pair of rubber gloves.

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A Conversation With Celery

No matter how you try to dress up a piece of celery, it’s just plain boring.  You could fill it with caviar and garnish it with gold, but anybody with an I.Q. greater than an amoeba  could see through the disguise.  When you pick up a limp piece of celery, it flops over like an arthritic old man on a rainy Monday morning. Celery is depressing; it’s the Eeyore of vegetables.

The other day I was speaking with someone who reminded me of celery.  I was fighting to pay attention, but all I could imagine was a limp piece of celery with hair and a face.  When it was my turn to respond, I was suddenly in an episode of Veggie Tales, and I had to refrain myself from bursting into a rousing rendition of  “The Dance of the Cucumber.”  On the drive home, it dawned on me that one of my primary duties as a parent is to ensure that my children develop personalities greater than a stalk of celery.

Of all the interesting personalities in the Bible, David is my favorite.  Maybe that’s because he was a “man after God’s own heart,” which would certainly add flavor to anyone’s personality.  David was the life of the party, a man who could play the harp, fight off giants, and run a kingdom in his spare time.

When Samuel had to select the next king over Israel, he invited Jesse and his sons to the sacrifice to choose the Lord’s anointed one.  One by one, Jesse’s sons walked the runway, but Samuel couldn’t find the right guy.  I love the fact that David wasn’t there.  He was off tending the sheep, so Samuel had to send for him.  Casual and unassuming, ruddy and handsome, David showed up late to the party and made his appearance all the more dramatic.  A green pepper in the midst of celery.

DAVID: (humming) La la la la la…huh? Hey, everybody!  What are you doing here?  (Samuel pours oil over his head) Whoa!

SAMUEL:  I anoint you in the name of the Lord.  The power of the Lord is now upon you.

DAVID:  Cool!  Let’s go kill some giants!

David had the X factor, and he even played the harp.  That’s kind of like that moment on American Idol when you love someone’s voice, and then one week they suddenly whip out a guitar and show a whole new talent.  Saul had an evil spirit tormenting him, and his attendants knew that music would heal his soul.  I can only imagine the initial suggestions.

ATTENDANT 1:  I’m learning how to play the pan flute.

ATTENDANT 2:  My four-year-old can play the glockenspiel.

SAUL:  You’re both fired.  Anyone else have a less idiotic suggestion?

1 Samuel 16:18

One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp.  He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man.  And the LORD is with him.” 

From this one suggestion, we learn many great qualities of David.  He was so likeable that Saul chose him to be one of his armor-bearers.  When Goliath, the Philistine giant, was terrorizing the Israelites, David was the only one willing to fight him.  Goliath had a little too much personality; he was more like a jalapeño pepper.  Sure, anyone could have killed Goliath with a 12-gauge shotgun.  David did it with a stone and a sling.  One shot to the forehead. Goodbye.  Apparently just killing Goliath was too ordinary, so David sliced off his head and carried it around with him for a while.  Maybe used it in a ventriloquist act.

My favorite “David moment” is when he returned with the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 6:14

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might.

David made this move popular way before Tom Cruise danced in his underwear.  But his wife Michal was disgusted by his public display of unbridled joy.  David’s response shows the origin of his zeal.

2 Samuel 6:21

It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel –

I will celebrate before the LORD.

David had such a fervor for God that it bubbled up and boiled over into an ebullient display of elation.  His love was not hindered by ritualistic worship or a phony display of passion for the Lord.  He did not have to try too hard to be funny or interesting; his personality evolved from genuine love and enthusiasm.

The other night my kids were getting ready for bed when a song on the radio made them start to dance.

“Hey, this song is about JESUS!” my four-year-old announced.

Throwing hands up in the air and dancing around the room in their underwear,  they had no idea how silly they looked, nor did they care.  It had been a rough day, the kind where I second-guessed my abilities as a parent.  But as I watched their spontaneous, uninhibited dance of joy, I thought of David’s celebration and smiled.

Somewhere in between celery and a jalapeño is all I ask.