"Toilet Paper In The Bathtub" by Charisse Tierney (CatholicMom.com) Via Pixabay (2014), CC0 Public Domain

Sometimes I wonder what God was thinking when He entrusted me with so many children. I love alone time. I love the feeling of going to my room, closing the door, and being alone with my thoughts and the space to think them. I love order. I’m a perfectionist.

There are days when I look around at the smudges on the wall, the laundry piled up, the cookie crumbs in the couch cushions, and the toilet paper in the bathtub and think What happened?!? Did God really think I could handle all of this?!?

Toilet paper in the bathtub.

That was the latest escapade of my three-year-old that, sadly, pushed me over the edge one evening. I made the mistake of stepping out of the bathroom while she happily played within earshot. When I came back in, the half-soaked roll of toilet paper next to the tub screamed “negligent mother!” at me.

Wanting to get my daughter out of the messy, wet bathroom as soon as possible, I started to scoop up water from the tub and pour it over her soapy head. I realized too late that much of that drenched roll of toilet paper had actually gone into the tub, and disintegrated into tiny bits.

My efforts at rinsing my daughter clean with the contaminated water left her looking like she had a severe case of dandruff--which went nicely with the goop in her eyes from the pink eye we’d been fighting all week. I have to admit that my tone of voice was not very kind as I transferred her to a shower and we rinsed and rinsed and brushed and brushed.

Because underneath the surface of frustration with my three-year-old was a heavy heart. A heart that was trying to accept that my newest baby had been born with a heart defect. A heart that was dreading another trip to the hospital so my two-month-old could undergo a heart catheter procedure. A heart that was struggling to carry a new, and unexpected, cross.

“And you yourself a sword will pierce.” (Luke 2:35) I think Simeon was speaking to all of us mothers with these words. After all, it’s our children who give us some of the greatest joys--but it’s also our children who teach us how sharp that sword really is.

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So while I’d been carrying a bigger cross bravely, I’d allowed the smaller crosses to break me. I’d allowed the toilet paper in the bathtub to make me forget who I am--a mother who is loved by God. A mother whose big family and baby with a heart defect is no mistake.

The crosses in life are teaching me to give everything to God--to lean into Him--to allow Him to carry me. And whether it’s heart surgeries or toilet paper, God doesn’t expect me to handle any of it. He just expects me to give it to Him--to learn from it and grow through it, ever closer to Him.

Copyright 2017 Charisse Tierney