My husband and I decided to take advantage of the recent three-day weekend by potty training our not yet two-and-a-half-year-old son. It’s times like these when my palms begin to shake, missing late nights or showering regularly or skipping out of the house for a spontaneous dinner gathering.

holiday_beach_party_ppt_BackgroundInstead, I spent the weekend in my pajama pants with the Wiggles singing in the background, carefully eyeing my son to make sure he didn’t unload on our carpet.

Wild times.

Today is shaping up to be crisis-free–a real rarity in (our) married life. From the moment we said our vows, life has felt like a lottery ball crashing around inside one of those translucent glass boxes, willy-nilly with lots of bumps and bruises along the way. That was then. Now we’re cruising. We visit a chiropractor regularly for crying out loud!

Instead of enjoying the calm, though, non-crisis mode makes me feel antsy. One shoe is always dropped and the other suspended in air, mocking me – set to fall the moment I let my well-trained guard down. I’m always on the verge: armed and ready to call a tow truck, or a real estate agent, or an ambulance. Adrenaline seems to pump through my body in 3324500_f520equal measure with my blood, yet without an outlet to burn the stuff up. I’m unreasonably uncomfortable with this time of nothingness.

Here’s the thing about the potty training long weekend: our son got the hang of it in no time. That’s right. Potty training was a breeze! Some parents will want to strangle me for that. I’m sorry.

The worst part about it was having to stay home for three full days, doing nothing of (perceived) consequence. It was cold and raining outside, so we played in the den and ran back and forth to the toilet every fifteen minutes. That’s it. For three days.

My eyes began to dart around like a trapped animal. I could hear the second hand on the clock ticking by (pretty sure it slowed down at one point). I can now sing every word to every Wiggles song ever. I can even do the dance moves.

I need a savior now more than ever.

Interview-Emma-Watkins-Wiggles

So much of early motherhood looks just like this. You wonder how in the world do I matter?

In my version of my story I am Eowyn from Lord of the Rings, Rey from The Force Awakens, Khaleesi the Mother of friggin’ Dragons! Not Charlotte, the one who does the potty dance.

Perhaps this is why the prospect of the pandemonium returning doesn’t seem too scary. Could I be longing for it even?

Frasier is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. I so relate to the Crane brothers, who over-do and over-shoot absolutely every endeavor, usually to little avail of their original plan. They long to be people who matter. Frasier has such vision for his life, and yet his grand plans for romance and celebrity constantly blow up in his face. As I re-watched the series recently, it occurred to me that most of the comedic and sentimental gold of Frasier, the parts that really matter, occur in the in-between times when nothing of worldly gravity is happening. Todd Leopold noted in his article, A Fond Adieu to ‘Frasier’:

But with all that, when I think about classic moments from the series, I don’t think of clever lines or great camera angles. I think about the sum of the parts.

I think of a routine in which the cast was in Frasier’s kitchen, getting ready for a party, and moved food items from one side to another with the goofy precision of a Rube Goldberg device.

I think of the wonderfully escalating tension that formed when the Crane brothers took over a restaurant, or shared a ski lodge, or simply battled for attention.

I remember a delicate scene in which Niles danced with Daphne, long before the two got married.”

quesodripPeople told me before I accidentally had children that time with them would fly. Most days it does, and I want to squeeze each of them back to the size of newborns and kiss them until their cheeks are swollen. But not today. Not a lot of days. This is a season when the minutes are oh-so-long and I’m fantasizing about things like a hogshead of queso and that bottle of cabernet that’s been staring at me since before the sun came up. My mind has gone to mush; it hasn’t issued a single intelligent thought in over 72 hours. I am empty. Blank. Unstimulated. What am I doing with my life?

I know I sound ungrateful, but let me assure you: I know what I’ve been given. Yet in the throes of these never-ending, it’s-not-even-noon-yet-days, I just want to put the kids to bed and get lost in some movie where the characters are facing real, important, dire circumstances.

Then God whispers, “It is no longer your blood that saves and keeps you, but mine.”

This is true, not only in the best of or worst of times but also in the most mundane of times. God’s salvation and provision is not reserved exclusively for moments of total chaos and catastrophe and doing. His mercies are new every day – even on the days that seem blisteringly slow, like something out of a terrible first draft, the in-between times. A day like today.

Matt Schneider wrote in his article, “Grace and Mercy in Chicken Fingers”, about a dental hygienist named Candace from Matt Redmond’s The God of the Mundane:

Thank God for Candace. She doesn’t need to sell all her belongings and become a missionary for God to be at work in her vocation. Not that there is anything at all wrong with foreign missions, but there is a problem with a Christianity that tells us to serve God we must go to comparable extremes, living fantastically radical lives. Most dental hygienists look to the world as nobodies special, and as a matter of fact, that’s exactly who Redmond urges all of us to be:

The ‘you’re nobody special’ message may be the most freeing message of all. Especially for those who have the banner of ‘mundane’ flying kite-high over their life. Now you can just be yourself. Over against being the abstract, ‘special,’ you can land on the hard concrete reality of being yourself. Only more so. No need to be the pie-in-the-sky version of someone else’s idea of what special is. You can now just love God, love others, and be nobody.

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Here’s what I hear God telling me in the still instants of the long days: There is joy to be had in the in-between times. This is my idea of special. Close your computer. Sit on the floor. Go for a stroll. Inhale. Sing the Wiggles at the top of your lungs and dance until you’re out of breath. Rejoice about the poop that made it into the potty. I am here. In every drawn-out second, I am here. In the laundry and the potty-prizes and the Mickey Mouse underpants, I am here. And these circumstances are real. They are important. They are dire. If you would only open your eyes and your hands to receive the smallest of my gifts. You are not a willy-nilly lottery ball. You have been chosen. You are mine, daughter of Eve. As such, so does each long second of your day belong to me. Everything that truly needs doing was already done on the cross. It is no longer your blood that saves and keeps you, but mine. And my power is made perfect in the littleness of this season. Though you are yet still and empty (as is your potty-trained son, you’re welcome), pour out dear one. Pour out.