The leave of absence was granted with full enthusiasm, both by the colonel and me, the Good Soldier. I needed not only time away from the battle, but time to regain strength to carry on.
I returned to duty expecting not to get completely exasperated the first day. After all, isn’t a Good Soldier trained to endure? To not be swayed under pressure?
Yet immediately, the grenades were thrown: “MOM! Paxton threw a ball and it hit me in the eye!!”
And the mines erupted beneath every footstep: “MOOOOOMMMMMYYYYYYYY! Sissa won’t let me watch a show!!!”
I had stolen a few minutes to talk on the phone to a friend, and she had the privilege of hearing me respond to each with typical soldier rhetoric: “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTT?!!”
My friend, a fellow Good Soldier, quickly realized I needed to engage in battle and hung up the phone. And I proceeded to break all the rules of battle — I didn’t assess the situation or stealthily sneak an attack. No, instead I pounded through the kitchen and up the stairs as loud and as fast as I could, guns a-blazing, so as to instill a holy fear in them before I arrived.
Hark! The Mother of All the Battles approaches.
There are days I pound up the steps like an attack on Normandy, and other days I’m willing to exit my house with hands clasped behind my head in full surrender…waving a juice-stained white flag.
I sometimes think we’d all be better off — this whole bunker — if I hired a Ghost Mother. Someone to come in and take over the duties, writing the story of my kids’ childhood for me, while I still get the byline and the credit. And if that’s not possible, maybe I could just find a foxhole to climb into until an ally comes to fight for me, so I can walk out without scars and wounds.
In the words of Combeferre,
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Somewhere beyond the barricade of potty-training and pre-tween-ness is a world where I’m not losing both the battles and the war.
Wars are neither fought nor won alone. Each side has thousands of fellow Good Soldiers, all focused on the same vision. Soldiers who immediately jump in to rescue when a sister is down. Or down and out.
I need partners in this War of the Kids’ Worlds. Women who will be strong and stand with me. Women who don’t offer yet another battle strategy or tactic, or compare how much worse their battles are than mine, or (God forbid) judge me silently — but women who will link arms with me and help cover my back with prayer. Women who won’t leave me to hide in my foxhole, but will simply say, “Chin up, soldier. ‘No Woman Left Behind’ is our motto.”
“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” (Proverbs 17:7, NLT)
Women who encourage me to remember I get to start over tomorrow.
I need this woman, and yet I don’t think I am this woman. I fear I’ve neglected the motto and get too focused on only me and my bunker…oblivious to all the battles raging around me and the other Good Soldiers’ cries for help.
“But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” (1 Thess 5:8, NIV)
This thing we do — this Motherhood Warfare — can’t be won with just artillery or might. It isn’t a just battle of brawn. It can’t be. It has to be a battle that engages our spirits, minds, souls and bodies. Because we, almost like Jesus, pour out every bloody ounce of ourselves in desperation that our children be saved. Saved spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. A pleading escapes our souls that their lives would exceed our own. That they would become Great Soldiers one day, not just good ones.
This long-term war can only be endured in communion with God the Father. A daily pre-dawn intake of Bread and Water, so that after the sun rises and the battle is underway, we won’t faint with fear, anxiety and worry. So that we’ll stay sharp, focused and be able to strategize with intention and purpose.
And it can only be endured in communion with each other — where we share the Bread and share the Cup and remind each other that this parenting thing we do is in remembrance of Him. In remembrance of The One who poured all of Himself out for His children.
I promise to stand with you, praying and cheering and rescuing you from the foxhole when you need it. I promise to enter into communion with you, helping you remember you get to start over tomorrow. Will you join me in my crusade? Will you be strong and stand with me, too?
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NLT)
A triple-braided cord — you, me and Jesus. Now get out there and do this thing.