I vaguely remember life before I had to crawl under the table after every meal to scrape up cold mashed banana and sweet potatoes before they hardened into cement. Back in the old days, I had days off and could sleep in if I wanted. I read novels. I went out for coffee on a whim. I could finish a project in a day. Heck, I could finish a sentence without interruption! I didn’t do laundry every day; I didn’t have to wipe the underside of the table after lunch. And I didn’t have other people’s used food all over my shirt.
Understand, I wouldn’t say they’re the good old days. They are just the old days. Different. I wouldn’t trade these laughter-filled, life-spilling-over, achingly sweet and fleeting moments with my young children. Well, most of them. I can look back at the BC years – before children – as a closed chapter in my history. But the book’s not finished yet, so I’m not complaining that we have moved on. If I tried to live in the old days, it would be miserable. Compared to now, I was a selfish, lazy, idealistic, impatient yuppie who thought time mattered and I had to be clean to be happy. I live by a different code now. By necessity. And by choice.
People ask me almost daily – how do you do it with five kids?!? Honestly, I don’t do most of it. I can’t do most of the stuff you do, like always be on time, eat when I want, have a coherent conversation with my peers, wear un-snotted clothes, stand still, not automatically explain big words, or focus. But really, it was the first kid that sunk me. I went from working forty hours a week, having days off and time to clean house and blow dry my hair – to being on-call 24 hours a day, responding to gibberish with an exhausted smile, making quality time for my husband, and learning to love my new life. It was an adjustment for me that I hadn’t truly prepared for. How can you?
Who are these foreign creatures and why are they always in my kitchen?
If you’ve been a mom around a church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of TP31B. It’s not a vaccine. It’s not a rogue illness or something to scrub off the underside of your table. I’m referring to The Proverbs 31 Babe. The lady described in the latter part of Proverbs chapter 31 is worthy of being emulated. She’s supermom. The chapter is full of advice from a mom to a young king – her son – about what to look for in a wife. Before the lady part though, back in verse four, the king’s mom says, “It is not for kings O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine… Lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted.”
Save the supermom stuff that comes later for another blog. This little line has recently become my mantra. It is not for kings… Obviously, this applies to wine here. Yes, a king could do whatever he wants, technically. But it doesn’t mean he should. A king cannot make good decisions inebriated. I get that. I have been either pregnant or nursing for nine years now. You don’t drink on the job; I have been on the clock for approximately 3,300 continuous hours now. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for intoxication.
If you permit me to stretch this beyond the context, I think it applies to the queen in her castle too. So I take it personally (though my castle is missing key items like turrets, a treasury room, and servants, I can still dream…)
It is not for kings (or queens) to stay up too late when they have official court business early in the morning (albeit in the kitchen hard boiling eggs for the little princes).
It is not for kings to plan a fun trip when their country is at war (though it sounds fun to spend a day with friends, if a little prince is sick or really has to finish his schoolwork, the priority is to stay home).
It is not for kings to wear their coronation attire every day (or even shirts that little hands and cuddly babies will drag shamelessly down at inopportune times in public).
It is not for kings to stare at Pinterest all day while eating something deep fried in chocolate (not that a king would ever do that…)
It isn’t that those things are bad… I don’t mean that staying up sometimes, or fancy clothes, or going on trips, or Pinterest, or certainly anything chocolate, is sinful. But there is a time for everything. And while you’re on the throne – it’s not the time. I even repeat it in my head at the times I’ve wanted to do something very good – like an evening Bible study – but my husband worked late and I couldn’t just leave the kids to run wild alone, reenacting Lord of the Flies (or Angry Birds versus Darth Vadar – in diapers.) No. It was not for kings.
Did the king ever feel this was unfair? Maybe, sometimes. But I doubt he ever felt it to the point of not wanting to be king. There are lots of perks to being king. You are important; your word is law. Everyone looks up to you. You lead the parades, the victory marches, the feast days and celebrations. Your subjects trust you with their lives, their futures. You decide what everyone else is eating, wearing, hearing and seeing, and where they’re going. You kiss babies. You receive adoration. You have got it made, mama – I mean, king.
I’m learning to say it when I’ve been trolling on Facebook too long. It is not for kings to waste their time. Or homeschooling mamas with needy toddlers and a sink full of dirty dishes. Nurse the baby and then get thee off!
When I see a cute dress at the consignment shop I remind myself – I can’t nurse in a sundress. It is not for this season of life. It is not for kings (well, queens. That just sounds weird if I don’t make it feminine.)
My friends plan a fun day at the beach with their older kids, but I have a baby and a toddler who can’t walk. Double strollers don’t do well in sand. It is a playdate not for kings. Not for now.
I really want to answer the call of that pint of good chocolate ice cream beckoning me from the freezer. I’ve earmarked it for a special occasion; lunchtime on a rainy Wednesday qualifies. Right? But the kids are bouncing off the walls, literally, from the marshmallow fight they had in the living room an hour ago (I thought they were doing math while I finally jumped in the shower, honest!) and if they catch me it will make their stale bread and peanut butter that much more of a fight to force down. It is not for kings. I pull out leftovers instead. And duct tape the freezer closed.
Often, mumbling the little catchphrase to myself helps to break the pity party pall immensely. I am a child of the King. I am royalty. I could run around my castle in poofy skirts and eat whatever I want and sleep in and read and take selfies and hang out all day. But that just lands royalty in the tabloids. I dislike standing in the checkout line at Walmart enough already. I certainly don’t want to be there stuffed in a shamless rack to be gawked at! So I will not. I choose not. Well, as long as the duct tape holds on the freezer anyway.
Then I can move on to TP31B. Aim high, daughter of the king. Get on your knees under the table, and aim high.