Counting It All Joy

Today was definetely one of those "crazy" mommy days. If you're a mother or are responsible for a life other than your own, you know those days-they are the ones that make you feel like you have as Bill Cosby called it "brain damage". The ones that make you question what on earth possesed you to engage in the activity that brings children to this earth in the first place, the ones that make you just want to ditch adulthood and go make mud pies. Yeah, I had one of THOSE days. Between my fussy 5 week old who doesn't like to ride in the car much less be put down for more than 10 minutes, and my 3 year old home from daycare with Scarlet Fever, (yes, you read correctly, I did say SCARLET FEVER!) who, either from medicine or being couped up in the house for 3 days, acts like he can't hear me (I must be speaking Chinese, why else would he just IGNORE my command to stop throwing his toys?) today was a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong day.(and yes, that many o's were necessary)

The highlight or climax of the day occured earlier this evening. Having just fed the newborn, I was sitting with him in my living room, paitiently waiting for time to pass so I could put him down without worrying about his dinner coming back up (he has reflux and has to sit up after eating) when as I gazed lovingly into his eyes, I heard a massive explosion as the volcano that is his rear end emptied his afternoon snack into his diaper...and my lap. Yep. There it was, oozing out of the side of his diaper like yellow, scrambled egg lava, covering his clothes, and my new pair of jeans I had just washed yesterday. As the 3 year old whizzed past me with his nerf sword, screaming something about Iron Man and death rays, I blabbed something about him sitting down like a decent human being and went upstairs to handle Mount St. Doo Doo.

Upon further inspection of the destruction that resembled a diaper, I decided to  just give him a bath earlier than originally planned and quickly filled the tub while I got him undressed. That's when the 3 year old decided he needed a bath too and started peppering me with "can I take a bath too Mommie?", "Mommie, is it bathtime?", "Mama, whatcha doooiiiin?", "Mommie, Mommie, Mommie, Mommie!" Walking back into the bathroom, I diverted the 3 year old with promises of a future bath and ordering him to go play in his room. Turning my attention back to the baby and the bathtub, I realized that I had failed to put the plug in.....and all the water was easing it's way out the baby's tub and down the drain.

Mumbling something about just wanting to go to sleep under my breath, I put the baby in one hand and used the other to rerun his bathwater. Almost instantaneously I felt something wet covering my lap and looked down to find my adorable son peeing all over my newly-changed-into pajama bottoms and the floor. I was about to growl in frustration and ask why did I decide to put myself through this when four simple words stopped me dead in my (vocal) tracks: "Count it All Joy." Huh? Come again? "Count it All Joy." Count what joy-the fact that I had just been pooped and peed on in less than 15 minutes? Or that today had been motherhood's way of testing me to see what I was made of? "God," I said, "you have got to be kidding me-why would I be joyful about any of this?" "Why not?" was His reply and as I put my son in the bath, I began to ask myself the same question.

Why let the demands on my nerves and patience wear me out? Why let such trivial occurrences weigh me down and frustrate me? Why get upset and worked up, angry with myself? Because I had been having the wrong attitude that's why, I found myself answering. Instead of looking at things from the perspective of a frazzled, frustrated person, why not just take it for what it is? "It's all about your perspective, A'Driane," I heard God saying. "True there are things in life that aren't pleasant, that demand all of what you have and push you to your limit. Yes, you will have days where you feel like you don't know what you're doing or where your going, days you will feel like you can't go another step. Yes, you will go through things that make you question yourself and everything you think you know about life. Yes, you will be faced with trials and tests, some big and some small, but how you handle them, how you think about them, will determine how your character is developed, and how you respond to future situations."

He then brought to my remembrance a scripture I had been meditating on a few weeks ago: James 1:2, which in the Message translation says, "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." In the King James version it says to "...count it all joy" and that's just what God was reminding me to do. Now maybe a trying day with your kids and your son peeing on you is nothing to get worked up over, things such as that don't even make you bat an eye. But for someone like myself who has been battling depression on and off since 7th grade and who is currently taking Zoloft to help ward off postpartum depression, a day like today can have me in my closet with the door closed crying hysterically. I'm serious people, a day filled with open defiance from a sick 3 year old, the always present needs of a newborn, a 35 min car ride filled with screams from BOTH children, a dirty house that was just clean 24 hours ago, and not a free moment to myself all day would be enough to send me down Despondency Lane sometimes.

The demands and pressures of being a mother to two children can be overwhelming, especially in the beginning, and although two weeks ago after reading that scripture I was all pumped up and ready to be joyful, life had handed me a two peice and a biscut in recent days.  As a matter of fact, just on Sunday at the altar, I had told God I wanted off the up and down, merry-go-round rollercoaster of depression I had been on  not just for most of my life, but particuarly this past year. I asked Him to show me ways to battle it,strategies to overcome it, things to think on and practice during moments such as I was currently having while bathing my son. I left the altar feeling changed and for once confident.

And then Sunday night, my son's face was twice it's Tuesday he was diagnosed with Scarlet Fever and declared unfit for daycare for at least 10 days-after he had already been home testing my limits for a full day. And then today happened...but sitting in my bathroom, bathing my son, talking to God and thinking about things, something else happened: I started to laugh. It started as a giggle, then evolved to a chuckle and then burst out into belly hugging, gut busting laughter. It was so loud and unexpected it made the baby jump and brought the 3 year old in from his room, demanding to know what I was laughing at. Splashing water on him, he laughed started acting silly which made me crack up even more and by the time I was rinsing the baby off, I was fully relishing spending this time with my kids, the feelings of stress and being overwhelmed completely gone, a distant and quickly fading memory. "See now was that so hard?" He asked. "How do you feel?" "Much easier than I thought," I replied, "I feel lighter.....well whatya know I feel joyful!" I laughed and took the baby into my room with an extra pep in my step. (may sound corny, but that's how me and God talk, okay?)

Taking that moment to change my perspective and choosing to laugh through my frustration and stress instead of getting weighed down by it and worked up made me realize that I can choose how I look at a situation and how I respond to it. Me taking that moment to laugh allowed me to enjoy putting the baby to sleep, bathing and feeding the older one, putting him to sleep, and even gave me the energy I needed to do a quick "pick-up" of my house, which will definetely make me happy when I wake up to a clean house in the morning.

I didn't realize when I asked God for a strategy to deal with my depression I would find myself with an answer so quickly, but I'm so grateful for it. I'm even more grateful because I understand that I may have alot on my plate now when it comes to motherhood, but if I tackle each challenge with the right mindset, it will equip me to handle stress and other demanding situations in other areas of my life.

Now I understand that days like today aren't about trying to make me lose my mind- they are all about developing my character, and giving me an opportunity to find joy in the most unexpected places.