Pirate costume: check.
Cash for raffles: check.
Pizza for kids: check.
Bottle for Baby: check.
I was ready to “Walk the Plank”- a benefit dinner-dance for special needs kids at Sister’s school. I was even dressed on time; now that’s an accomplishment!
We left without much fanfare; the baby wasn’t crying yet, so that was a good sign! Three weeks earlier, we were called home from our anniversary dinner because he had been crying for two hours to the point of vomiting. That separation anxiety thing can be a drain on actually getting Me Time!
The atmosphere was electric with 560 other people enjoying dinner and looking forward to a night of dancing, raffles and pirate jokes…Ahoy, matey!
Until the phone call.
There it was: our home number on the cell phone. “I’m throwing up the white flag,” she said, “He’s been crying on and off all night, but now Sister is crying for you too.” The sound of her voice held the unspoken desperation that I had often felt after one of those days.
Hoping to get the kids to bed and come back to the fundraiser, I grabbed the keys and drove home. Marching Sister up to bed with Baby screaming in the background, I firmly informed her of her state of trouble while remaining calm. Victory!
Now for the baby. Taking the screaming, red-faced infant out of the babysitter’s arms and the bottle from her hand, I sat on the couch to give him the bottle. “He wouldn’t take it,” she informed me as she apologized profusely for calling. Gulping down 6 ounces in less than four minutes, he sat up with a satisfied burp and a smile at the babysitter; he knew he had won again.
Just then, 7-year-old Brother poked his head out of his room begging to be fed. After being offered a glass of water, he proceeded to throw a temper tantrum. The babysitter took this as her cue to leave. I paid her as she apologized again and told me what a great mother I am. (Whatever!) Out the door she went.
I slowly walked (trying not to stomp!) upstairs, had a heart-to-heart with Brother about eating at dinnertime and called my husband to tell him he’d have to find a ride home. He felt bad for me, but what could we do? It was my job as the mom to sacrifice sometimes. As I hung up the phone and sat down on my bed, I strange realization came over me.
I wasn’t angry. WHAT?!?
Disappointed? Yes…but not angry, not frustrated, not like I expected to be. I sighed again and climbed into bed a full 2 hours before my husband come in.
You would think that was the end of the story. A short lesson that Mama has to sacrifice and it is just part of being a mother. It comes along with the dirty diapers, sloppy kisses and tons of artwork that covers the refrigerator. But not for me: the real part of the story happened in the morning.
I sat in the pew listening to the pastor talk about self-sacrifice. (eek!)
He talked about giving when no one is looking; it really isn’t worth anything if you look for recognition and I had an “Aha!” moment:
It wasn’t the fact that I had to come home early.
It wasn’t the fact that I am chained to a nursing infant that won’t take a bottle from anyone but me.
It wasn’t the fact that I missed out on something I’d looked forward to all year.
It was my attitude. I wasn’t angry about the missed opportunity for fun and it was actually a moment of victory for me. Since having my son 7 years ago, whenever I missed out, I’d mark up my sacrifice along with a token of self-pity or I’d grasp at time for myself, not just as a break, but out of selfishness. So, sitting on my bed alone in the dark while my family and friends were laughing and dancing and feeling none of that was a significant moment of triumph!
Maybe Baby won that night and learned that if he cries for three hours his Mama will come home…
…but I won too…
I won against myself.
I won against my selfishness and that is no small feat! In that moment of quiet, I grew to be a little more like Jesus.
Just a little.