My twins were just a week or so old. Screaming, squalling bundles of joy. Oh the irony.
My first day going solo. No mama, no mama in law, no husband. Me and Ryleigh and Kadence. Oh. Happy. Day.
I don't remember how it started. Or when. I remember how it ended.
I was sitting on my sofa, sleep deprived--it's a wonder I was able to even function--and so overwhelmed. I had a baby cuddled in a Boppie on either side of me, armed with bottles and a horde of burp rags to contain the reflux, and they were crying. In stereo.
I juggled one baby in one arm, burping, bottle in the other hand, feeding the other baby in the other Boppie. Babies crying. Not eating. Spit up, reflux everywhere. Rags soaking. My frustration spilling over in waves. Babies not eating. Crying. Screaming. Oh God. Help me.
I was crying. Tears running down my face as I looked at these two squalling, screaming, red faced people. What was God thinking? Didn't He know me better than this? I can't do this. There's no way I can do this. This is too much. I am outnumbered. In every way. Where's that verse...the one about not giving me more than I can handle lest I sin? Do You hear that God???
I remember shouting for them to stop crying. (I know, ridiculous right?). And then I remember throwing their half-empty bottles at the wall because I didn't know what else to do, and in my mind, at that moment, this was an entirely appropriate thing to do since the babies weren't drinking them. I found myself in the middle of a grown up temper tantrum.
I was at the end of my rope and God hadn't thrown me another one. Yet.
In the middle of my very undignified temper tantrum, right when I started wondering how I would get through the next five minutes, much less the next five hours, my house phone rang.
"Hello," I said, tremulously.
"Jamie, where have you been?" My mama. Demanding. Tense. Urgent. Relief washed over me followed by a sense of indignation at her tone.
"What do you mean where have I been? I've been here the whole time." My voice got louder and more unsteady with each syllable. Babies screaming in the background.
"I've been trying to call you all morning." What???!!!! "I texted you. I called your cell phone twice. You never called me back."
"Mom, I never got your text and there's no message on my cell phone and my cell has been next to me." My sobs make it hard to talk. Hard to breathe. You mean this could have ended earlier? My heart was hurting and my babies were screaming. Still.
"What's wrong? Are you okay?" Softer, gentler.
"No, I'm not okay. The babies are screaming. I can't make them happy. They won't eat. They won't sleep. They won't stop. I don't know how to make them happy. Why can't they be happy?"
"Why didn't you call me?"
"Because I was trying to do this on my own. I have to learn how to do this on my own."
Oh my heart breaks for the mamas who suffer from the expectation that we have to do this on our own.
"No Jamie, you don't. You don't have to do this on your own."
"But mom, I can't expect that people can help me day after day. These are my babies. I have to figure this out. I don't want to be a burden on anyone. You've already helped me so much. I didn't want to ask for more."
"No. When we found out you were pregnant with twins, I said that this was going to have to be a family project. We were going to have to do this together. As a family. Not you. You can't do this on your own and you don't have to. I'm coming up right now. I'll be there in 30 minutes."
"You don't have to mom. It's okay. I'll be okay." My words said one thing, my heart said another. Inside, the pressure lifted. The burden, the expectation, the fear, the oppression of having to do this piece of life on my own was replaced with grace.
"But that's just it. You don't have to be okay. You don't have to do this on your own. I'll be there in a few minutes."
The grace of mamas who have the wisdom of years in their souls is a salvation to others. My mama saved me that day. I was at the end of me. I was at the brink of fracturing into a bazillion broken bits that would be irreparable. I'm convinced it was no coincidence. My cell phone never registered any calls or texts from my mama on that day. Had I talked to my mama earlier than that broken place I was in, things would have ended so differently. The hard moments lead to healing places. The hard moments are often doorways that lead to other graces.
I held it together while my mama drove to my house to save me from myself. I didn't need saving from my babies. I needed to be saved from myself. From my preconceived notion that doing mama-things by myself would somehow make me a better mama, would mean I was a natural, would mean I was born to be a mama, would mean that other mamas would look at me and marvel at how suited I was to being a mama.
The truth is that no mama can really do it by herself.
My mama stayed with me that day. And she came back 4 days a week for 4 months, until I went back to work. Faithfully serving my family. Not because she had to. Because she wanted to. Even now, it's my mama who stands behind me on hard days, who offers her ear and not her judgment when I rant, who encourages and exhorts me when I think I've botched it good this time, who helps me to remember to laugh and look at my frustration with different eyes.
That moment was a defining moment, a grace-moment. I'm convinced that moment was orchestrated by the hand of God to free me from my own performance trap. To let grace win the day and not competition.
Yes, my mama is my hero.