Liz was amazed at how many diapers she changed. She fastened the last tab on Liam’s diaper, the third that morning. He cooed and kicked his chubby little legs in appreciation. Picking him up, she automatically cradled him against her shoulder.
“Nicky, where are you?” she called as she headed down the stairs. Silence greeted her, never a good sign. Turning the corner into the toy room she saw a trail of yellow play dough bits leading from the toy shelf. Nicky was seated at the table, tearing the dough into little pieces.
“Look, Mommy!” he said, his eyes sparkling. “I’m baking.”
“Yes, you are,” Liz replied as she deposited Liam in the exer-saucer, its toys jangling with the weight of the baby. “How about you clean up your cookies so that we can get ready to go to church? You get to go to Storytime today.”
“No,” said Nicky, his eyes intent on his creations.
“Yes,” said Liz firmly reaching for the play dough container.
“No” said Nicky again, louder this time.
“Yes, we need to clean up,” said his mother, “Here, put the cookies in the cookie jar.” She held out the container to him.
“No!” yelled Nicky and with a sweep of his arm sent all the bits of play dough onto the floor. Liz felt her frustration growing within her like a hot air balloon.
“Nicky, if you don’t pick up the pieces of play dough then you will have to go to your room.” Liz insisted to the toddler who stood with his body rigid and staring at the floor.
“No, I don’t want it!” Nicky yelled again and sprinted out of the room. Liz felt her whole body tense in suppressed anger. Nicky always pulled these tricks when it was time to go somewhere. She was getting so tired of constantly fighting with him. She caught up with him in the kitchen trying to open the fridge.
“No” said Liz, “You need to have a time out for not listening to Mommy.” Nicky dropped to floor and screamed. Liz was beside herself with anger. She grabbed her son around the middle, hoisting him off the floor. Grimly she marched up the stairs to his bedroom. She plunked him on his bed and glared at the little offender.
“Why don’t you listen to Mommy?” she demanded. Nicky just whimpered and sucked his thumb. “Well, you can stay in your bedroom until it is time to go.” Liz declared and stormed out of the room. Half way down the stairs she heard Liam whining from the play room. “That is it!” she told herself. She was quite sure she could not handle one more demand, one more thing to do. She walked straight past the room and kept going, right out the front door. She closed the door behind her with a solid thud.
Liz wanted to scream. As tears formed in her eyes she sat down on the stoop her head in her hands.
“Dear God,” she prayed, “I think this is one of those times I need your extra love because right now I want to give my son away.”
Taking some deeps breaths she looked up and down the street hoping no one could see her in this act of abandonment. She sat and watched a blue jay flit in and out of the spruce tree, calling in its raucous voice. Liz was pretty sure there was a nest in the there somewhere. Her own children often reminded her of baby birds, with their mouths always open, demanding to be fed. As she pictured the little birds she was reminded of how God takes care of the birds. Jesus had taught about God’s great care for all his creation and how he gives sufficiently to everyone for the day. Liz knew then that God had given her the strength and endurance for her day too.
Liz opened the door and walked back inside. She heard Liam’s crying from the play room. Walking quickly she went in and picked him up. “Sorry, little guy,” she said kissing his hair. “Mommy needed a little time out.” Liz surveyed the wreckage of play dough. “Nicky can clean it up later.” she resolved. She went upstairs to Nicky’s room and found him still sitting on the bed, looking at a book. She put her arm around him and kissed him on the head. “Mommy loves you.” She said.
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