Sometimes I feel like a little kid. Don’t get me wrong… there are plenty of differences; I get annoyed by messes, prefer being clothed, hate apple juice, and, oh, I like to nap.
But the ocean, especially, brings out the childish, fun side of Jessica. Once I smell the salt, I have a one-track mind until my feet are squishing the sand. And every single animal sighting brings me to squeals.
You would never believe all the animals we saw on our recent trip to Myrtle Beach. The crowning glory was a REAL 11-FOOT-LONG ALLIGATOR!!!!! My husband is going to interrupt me at this point and offer a more reasonable dimension. Ignore him. It was huge. And it was looking. Right. At. Us. I was the one jumping up and down, craning to take pictures like I have lived in Hong Kong my whole life.
Then there were your token sand crabs (but big ones with pokey eyes), skinny lizards, jumping fish, and such. And of course the mommy duck. We had a kind of affinity, the mommy duck and me.
She looked so pathetically preoccupied with those ducklings. Honestly, her heart looked like it was going to pound out of her chest. (And let’s be honest, she lived smack dab in the middle of a submarine splash park, so I kind of understand the apprehension.) We tried to give the ducks all crackers, and she wouldn’t even eat any of them because she was petrified something was going to happen to the ducklings.
Now things aren’t so dire around here that I would ever turn down a free cracker. So don’t worry. But I do feel her pain. To explain, I need to tell you a little about our life right now. Did you ever play “Jenga” as a kid? I sort of feel like my life is like Jenga. I keep pulling out logs, waiting for the pile to crash.
It is like that with parenting in general, you know. The first time they handed me Sam, I thought, “Seriously? I am in charge of this?? Are you going to give me a class first or something?” And when your child has severe allergies, the perilous and fragile nature of parenting always looms a little more ominously in the background.
We’ve had two really awful medical events back to back. I’m positive these are harder for us than him, being as we are the ones in control. (Not really, of course, but sort of.)
I fish out the peanut shells in the sand where he’s playing (most of them?). I call the company to verify the hot dogs are safe (enough?). I wash off the table before we eat at the pool. I maneuver Sam around the kids with the Cheeze-its. I recall what I’ve eaten before I kiss him goodnight. I always remember the epi pen. I diagnose cough as cold or asthma. I prepare, I watch, I monitor.
And…I am tired. Really tired. It’s too much. I’ll miss something. I am not smart enough. I can’t hold it all together. I’m not able to do this job.
On top of that, I feel guilty. When I think of how God sees me – even though a million people tell me otherwise – I feel ashamed. I know in my heart of hearts, I don’t trust Him. I know in my heart of hearts, I’m frustrated and demanding and self-centered, when I should be grateful.
Exhausted, and guilty. Not a real fun place to live.
Well, I have to tell you this. A long time ago when I was only weeks into being a mom, a friend of mine shared a verse with me. For us, she said. Us moms.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
Did you catch the last line? He leads the mommies gently. I have loved that verse ever since.
With the tired, he is gentle.
With the worried, he is gentle.
With the guilty, he is gentle.
With the frightened, he is gentle.
With the little ones over which we worry, he is gentle.
And this is the great and wonderful present of Christianity that I love every time: that He does not treat us as our sins deserve, but He leads us gently to rest.
Jessica Smartt is a former middle-school teacher who lives in Concord, North Carolina. She blogs at www.smarttereachday.wordpress.com where she enjoys poking fun at the everyday challenges of motherhood, sharing delicious allergy-free recipes, and rejoicing that God still loves her no matter what phobia she has recently developed. She is blessed beyond belief with two Smartt little boys and a husband who can fix anything.