Throwing off the garment of guilt

A deadline looms. I pack the children off to the sitters, and stare at the black keys, waiting for my brain to still and words to come. You come home, nudge me gently as you climb in next to me, watching my fingers fly. A friend called you, needs a helping hand to weather a storm. We look deep into each other's eyes, and put off love for another night so you can do what you feel called to. I finish the project at hand, breathe a sigh of relief.

I look around at the house, all in disarray. Call the children home from the sitters, call grandma to come help. You come home again, and beg for a few minutes of my time, the cacophony of children's high voices nearly drowning out your request. I crumble for a moment, torn in three directions, then follow you. We ponder the wilderness, and you are mostly silent, and I wonder if it was worth the trade? To sit silently with you? The last few minutes, and few words have passed, but I feel your arm heavier around my shoulders, as if you've left a burden behind and are weary.

Back to the children. Grandma is finishing the dishes in the sink. My dishes. Cleaned by someone else...again. She whisks through the front room as I cuddle in a dogpile of kids on the couch. We joke about the "kid magnet" hidden somewhere inside me. Those on the outside of the pile clamor for some skin from mama. I wonder if there's enough time in all their childhoods to fill up the places I've left empty, the places where I've been gone, heal the scars cancer left on their little souls.

Bedtime comes, and another debate over who sleeps with whom, and if anyone can steal a last minute cuddle with me in my bed? Your bedroom eyes speak rebuke, and I send them packing, wailing, to their own beds. My last night at home this week, and I've made all the children unhappy. It's as if our couch cuddle never just more emptiness from another tired refusal, "Mama and Papa need time alone."

I wear the guilt like a heavy garment to bed, and all your caresses fall unfelt on that guilt garment. It takes you an hour to awaken my senses to you again. To dig past the mother-guilt that has shrouded me again like so many bedtimes before. The sweetness of our communion has a bitter edge as my mind keeps racing to hear the inevitable soft footfalls of the first sojourner from the children's bedroom to ours. Waiting for an interruption, I miss most of the main event. You roll over, instantly asleep, and I am left in the darkness to ponder the failings of yet another day.

Guilt is ubiquitous in motherhood. Stuck in a revolving door of rotating priorities...home, children, husband, God (and all the family, friends and work that crowd their way in as well)...we're never sure if we're making the right decision. To choose one always feels like demanding sacrifice from the others. Our children are black holes for affection, and can never quite be filled up. Our marriages always leave room for improvement. In even the most orderly house (mine is not. Lately, I feel as though I'm auditioning for "Hoarders".), there is still a chore or two left undone at the end of the day.

It bites through our sleep, hogties intimacy, and lashes us with fiery spurts of uncertainty. Yet,
The Enemy has no authority over us Christians unless we give it to him. We give it to him by putting ourselves in agreement with his assessment of God-by pious grumbling, by hopeless speaking, by repeating to each other our theories of life, rather than the truths of God. We say: "That situation is impossible," "Love in marriage always fades," "Children will rebel when they're adults if they don't when they're little." All lies and self-curses. God is not as good as He makes Himself out to be; He's holding out on you. ~Andrée Seu, April 9, 2011 World Magazine
I fail to lay down the burden heaped upon my shoulders by satan almost daily. The simplicity of cast all your cares upon Him, for He careth for you escapes me...the metaphorical transfer of my baggage to His care is just that - metaphorical. Hard to grasp in real life. Yet He commands that praise be always on my lips, and that I pray without ceasing. In these two twin observances of His wonder, majesty, and Grace, I find freedom that otherwise eludes me. Who can sing praise to the King and forget all His benefits? Who can pray and not feel a little lighter at the end of the soundless murmurings of our deepest problems and greatest desires? Who can fail to trust the King with marriage, children, and home when we cease heaping shame on our own backs and instead lift hands in prayer and praise for all He's already provided?