It was 10am, and already the day had been long. We had been late to swimming lessons, all three kids had snot running down their faces, breakfast was still sitting on the table, my daughter had removed her diaper and peed all over the kitchen, the baby had yet to be put down for a nap, I had threatened to throw all of the toys in the trash, and I could distantly hear my phone ringing…somewhere.
We were on day 15 of my husband’s 16 day business trip to China. Over that time my daughter had gotten two new teeth, my son had given my daughter a black eye, we’d all gotten colds, my baby had grown a size in clothing and I had fielded every “why” question, every dirty diaper, every sibling squabble, every meal-time disaster, every trip to the park, every nightmare, every everything. All of it.
I was tired. So tired. And it was only 10am.
Not only was I tired, but my inner monologue of self-pity had reached screeching decibel–to the point where all the screams and whines and begging and laughter and fits and questions around me were beginning to be drowned out. I was on the verge of totally checking out.
And so, like a zombie, I walked from bedroom to bedroom, putting away laundry while the baby kicked it his crib and the other two trailed at my heels.
Vaguely I heard a door shut.
Returning to the baby’s room, I found the door closed, and locked, from the inside.
With the baby inside.
I stood there in the hallway and looked at my son, 3 years old, my daughter almost 2. We were all outside, and behind this locked door was my 3 month old baby.
In that moment, something exploded inside of me. I turned to my 3 year old son and erupted. I had told him to stop messing with the locks! I had told him to stop slamming doors! Did he realize what he had just done? That his baby brother was locked inside the room, alone?
Although still fuming I set about opening the door. Certainly I’d be able to stick a nail/hair pin/something in there and get it open. I jimmied, I kicked, I screamed. The door didn’t budge. Maybe a more skilled lock-pick would gotten it open, but this doorknob, a few decades old, didn’t even blink.
And so I turned on my 3 year old again. I ranted through the list of things he shouldn’t have done, would never do again…and soon he was crying, sitting on the steps in a self-imposed punishment deep in self-hate.
Behind the door the baby’s throaty yelps were turning to choking sobs.
And then it was time to think. My husband was in China, my family lives 3 hours away. This was my problem to solve.
And so I thought–Could I run and bust through the door, like they do in movies? Umm, no, ouch. Should I get the latter, climb up on the roof and break in through the window? Ummm, okay, that’s a little crazy. Should I call the fire department? Maybe.
In the end I just went to the basement and got a hammer, the big one. And, after a few minutes of heavy pounding I broke/bent the doorknob enough to get the door open and rescue my now screaming baby. My son burst into the room with me, just as relieved as I was, if not more so.
I immediately sat down and nursed the baby, and soon he was peacefully asleep. I quickly removed the broken doorknob, had a heart-to-heart with my 3 year old and then we all headed outside to play in the sandbox.
Tragedy–if there ever really was a tragedy at hand–had been avoided. Besides the fact that I needed to buy a new doorknob, it was like it had never happened.
My journey through motherhood is full of all sorts of these kind of stories–part comic, part frustrating, part shameful, part sad. I wish there was some sort of big take away, lesson, moral…something.
But there is none of that. Just maybe (hopefully) a little amusement I’ll find sometime in the future.
I guess this is just where I am right now, as a mom of 3, ages 3 and under, with a husband that travels 50% of the time. I need to remember that this is just a season. The kids will get older, my husband will be done with this job in a little over a year, everything will change. As every old lady is quick to remind me when I’m at the grocery store with all three wild animals, these days will soon pass and I’ll be left pining for them. On days like today I feel like all those old ladies are full of crap–right now all I am pining for is my husband and an afternoon to myself–but it must be true. It must be. I really hope it is.
I just pray that the Lord gives me the strength to navigate these days so that when they are gone I’ll be proud of how I lived.