I’ve found myself repeating the same question a lot lately, “How can I help you?” It’s mostly geared towards my 3-year-old. For example, I’m going to the bathroom and she’ll stand in the doorway and stare. “How can I help you?” Or, I’m cooking dinner, and she’s pulling up her stool and digging her hands into the whole container of flour. “How can I help you.” Sometimes, I swear, I catch myself speaking to her like she’s my little sister. I add that really mature and menacing “uh” sound to the last word of every sentence I say. My tone has been growing more and more cross, sometimes eliminating the “How” and shortly muttering my rhetorical, “Can I help you?”
When the Baby seems to be crying for no reason, “How can I help you?” When we’re all trying to get out the door and Lila is majorly melting down because her boot won’t fit on her (wrong) foot, “How can I help you?”
Let’s pause. I started to write this blog so I can share my moments, musings, and methods, while I learn as I go through my own journey of mother and womanhood. I’m not here to only tell you the good stuff. It wouldn’t be fair. It wouldn’t be in line with my vision for Dear Darla. It would be cheap and shallow and just one more person out there acting like they have it all together. So, here, I share a vulnerability. Something, I’m not proud of. Something I’m learning.
I was in the middle of trying to do dishes. It was a stressful moment. Two overtired kids, ready for their nap. The faucet creating just enough white noise to overstimulate us and warrant Lila’s already loud voice, to raise up a few more decibels. Then, something happened. I don’t even remember what it was, but she cried. The blubbering kind, where her little toddler dialect is almost indecipherable. I left my hands in the sink, turned my head back and snapped, “How can I help you?” It was cold. It was angry. It hurt her feelings. I could see it in her eyes.
She needed my help and warmth; she needed my comfort, and I was cold. My demeanor instantly thawed the way it does when you catch your temper slipping as a mommy. I apologized and said it again, but this time I meant it, “How can I help you girl?”
As a mommy, I am needed constantly. And guys, I have to be honest, it can be really draining. I have to keep myself in check and realize that I am here to help. That doesn’t always mean giving her what she wants or even giving her my attention, or a cup of water, or help with a new dress the very moment she asks for it. It means looking at my role as shepherding her into the woman God designed her to become, one learning opportunity at a time.
As I thought it over, I heard the question once more. “How can I help you?” This time, it wasn’t my voice. I was reminded that I’m not alone. That He is always with me, shepherding me into the woman He designed me to become, one learning opportunity at a time. Including this one. I had to quiet myself and zoom out to hear it and remember why I’m here. So, in those moments where I feel my temper flaring, or when I feel my patience coming up short, I need to ask it sincerely, “How can I help you grow, strengthen and blossom, into who you’re meant to be?”