Updated: May 19
In conjunction with the book review from August 2022, I'm releasing the story I wrote for the collection. This story is not fiction.
There is nothing quite so invigorating as sitting in a chair by lamplight waiting for your toddler to take care of business at almost midnight. At least, my son seems to think so. Weariness drags at every muscle, and some I never even knew existed until I had kids.
‘Yeah, Mummy! Some came out,’ he whispers with fists pumping in the air. Whispers because the rest of the family are sensibly asleep.
I smile wanly.
It does not please my little dictator. After weeks of toilet training, he still can’t just go. I must enthusiastically celebrate every successful splashdown. He whines until I paste on a mockingly bright smile, shake my hands in the air like my deaf friends do when they silently applaud each other, follow that with a begrudging thumbs up, and lastly, a lacklustre ‘Yeah!’ If my toddler understood mockery, he wouldn’t be looking at me like I’m the most wonderful person in the world right now.
Boredom trumps the guilt nipping at my conscience.
If only I could read a book or do something while I wait!
But that will muck up the bear of a meticulous routine I accidently created while innocently trying to make toilet training fun. The situation of Mum’s chair, the honour of using Mum’s super special torch to light his way, and the previously mentioned four ways to celebrate his success are only a fraction of his elaborate night-time toilet routine. How could I have been so mistaken? What I presumed to be temporary trappings have morphed into a settled, draining routine in need of constant new material.
Frustration pulls my head back to the heavens.
God, why do I still have to invent ways to make this interesting?
Why can’t he just go and be done with it? I mean, I got it when this was new, but it’s been months! Shouldn’t this just be second nature by now?
The weirdest concept pops into my head. Is this how God feels when his children are still celebrating things that should be second nature to us by now? Does he get weary when we’re stuck on the ‘milk of the Word’ when we should be chowing down on the ‘meat’ by now?
Yet you’re always gracious to me God.
My eyes wander back to my son’s hopeful face. In the sweet, anxious pleading of his eyes, I see God looking down in grace at me. Determination bolsters my flagging strength. I spread my lips wide in a genuine smile and celebrate enthusiastically with my son. I don’t try to skip any steps, and there’s not a hint of begrudging or mockery in sight. If God can be gracious when I act like a toddler after being his daughter for years, I can cheer my son until he’s ready to conquer the next milestone to growing up.
Thanks for always being gracious and patient with me, God.
Image not used in the printed copy. Image by https://pixabay.com/users/freestocks-photos-7014431