A Mother's Prayer: Don't Let Me Screw This Up

by Katie Pace
Katie Pace

Dear God, Jesus, Allah, Universe, or any being in the sky that may actually be listening to me, unlike my children:

I am down on my knees praying to you for help in mothering my children. Yes, I may be simultaneously cleaning up dried oatmeal that is glued to the rug, but do not mistake multitasking for inauthenticity.

Give me strength today, Lord — physical strength so that I am able to carry my 4-year-old through the grocery store parking lot while she is kicking me in the pubic bone as she screams that she needs that pony cookie or she will not be my friend. And then bestow upon me the emotional stamina to acknowledge her feelings rather than shout obscenities at her for acting like she belongs in an insane asylum.

During this tantrum, God, give me the brawn to hold down her freakishly strong arms with compassion instead of rage. And as she tries to roundhouse me in the face, grant me the power to refrain myself from bitch-slapping her back.

I also need patience today — so much patience. I need patience more than caffeine — enough patience to wait for my baby to fall asleep peacefully in my arms, as I rock, bounce, nurse, sing, or do squats and lunges with him, despite having weak pelvic floor muscles.

Please keep me on the path of swaying him and not shaking him, because even though he is so cute that I want to smother him with love, sometimes I actually want to smother him with a pillow, as it may be the only way he will close his damn eyes.

We are both so tired, God. So, so tired. But after he finally falls asleep upon my sweaty, showerless body, instead of praying that he peels off peacefully so that I can get one frickin’ minute to myself, help me to enjoy it, for he is only this little once.

I’m also requesting empathy today, so I may understand the dire magnitude of my children needing their sandwiches cut into triangle halves instead of rectangle halves, even though they just asked for rectangles 20 seconds ago. Guide me in remembering that I, too, often change my mind, albeit not with the same degree of protest and deranged unpredictability.

As one of them flees from me in a parking lot, allow me to race after them in my flip-flops with gratitude for their independence, despite my post-baby belly jiggling with regret. And upon finding my son sucking on wet toilet paper that he retrieved from the inside of the commode, please control my gag reflex, as I cannot clean up any more vomit, even if it’s my own. I. Just. Can’t.

When my daughter dresses herself in sparkly tights with a tank top over a tiger T-shirt and accessorizes with a knit beanie and jellies, grace me with the fortitude to encourage her creativity. And protect me from worry that she will become one of those weird teenagers who shouts poetry in coffee houses with wrath about her privileged upbringing.

I also ask for tolerance to answer all 602 questions they will ask me today with kindness in my voice instead of annoyance over their ignorance. Why cats are called cats and the difference between boobs and nipples are extraordinary inquiries. Permit me the wisdom to know that curiosity is what makes them brilliant, even if it makes me mental.

Instead of comparing me to robo-moms, please lead my inner voice to speak to me lovingly, even while my outer voice screams, “Pick up your fucking toys or they are going in the trash!” And as one child gnaws on my face with teething gums and another licks my arm while pretending she is some sort of rabid animal, please give me wine, God — because I need it to stop the bad thoughts.

Assist me in bringing their sweet, pterodactyl shrieks down to a lower decibel with smiles and jokes rather than threats and bribes, especially after they yell the word “penis” in a restaurant. And when they smack their food with bits of macaroni flying from their mouths and onto the server, remind me that their poor manners are not a reflection of me, as they got that from their father.

Speaking of him, give me love, dear Lord. Make my heart big enough to still dote on my husband with tenderness and affection — even when he complains that he is tired, despite sleeping through the night uninterrupted with his mouth open wide enough that I am tempted to shove my fist in it. And please lift my libido to the heavens when he wipes down the high chair for the second time ever.

And when I look at my offspring-ravaged body that has been nourished with animal crackers and cheese, and is littered with under eye circles, stretch marks, and breasts so saggy I could smuggle drugs under them, let me not resent my children for giving it to me. Make me thankful that it created the precious gifts of these hilarious and ungrateful spawn. For when I, too, am one day wearing diapers again and spewing nonsensical utterances about jello and feces, they will be the ones taking care of me. And I really don’t want to screw that up.