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English: Little girl hanging up stocking by fi...

On Christmas day in 1989 we had three pre-schoolers. The anticipation of Christmas, the magic of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree in Cairo, stockings at the foot of their beds — it was all new, exciting, magical.

They were beyond excited.

At the crack of dawn they were in our beds. Tousled heads, Superman and batman pajamas, soft small bodies opening up stockings. By 8 we were around the tree reading the Christmas story and opening gifts, by 9 we were eating scrambled eggs and a cinnamon roll Christmas tree with bright green frosting and sprinkles.

By 10 they were a mess. The sugar, the excitement, the gifts – it was all too much.

So – I put them all in the bath tub. In warm, soapy water they played and relaxed. The bath time toys were familiar, nothing new. The warmth and relaxation calmed them down and all of life was okay.

It is now 23 years later. And sometimes I wish I could put them all in a tub. All in warm, soapy water where they can relax and have the cares of the world dissolve like all the bubbles surrounding them. Where there is nothing in their world that can’t be solved with hot water and bubbles. Where troubles wash off like the dirt on their bodies.

But. That would be weird. Because they are adults and as adults I am no longer able to solve all of life’s problems with a bath.

And this is where my thinking becomes flawed, needy of reprogramming. Because I am not the Saviour, I am not the person who can make life okay. I am not the person who can whisper in their ears that I will always be there. I can’t scrub off dirt and wrong and sin with a soft, soapy cloth.

I am one, startlingly imperfect, mom.

And that T-shirt (or sometimes plaque) that says “God couldn’t be everywhere and so he created moms” Well that’s a loaded lie right there and unfortunately that thought comes and roots its way into our heads by way of our eyes and ears and we’re duped.

But in my startling imperfection, in this tired, soft body of mine that has more dimples and wrinkles by the day, is a God who knows all about the lies I believe. He gently does the reprogramming, sometimes tenderly, sometimes more firmly. And I’m reminded that His all-sufficient, powerful presence is that much stronger than a tub of soapy water.

But I still sometimes want to scoop them up and put them in the tub.