When I was about 9 years old, I came home from school one day to find that my pet hamster, Peanut, had undergone a dramatic personality change. When I reached into her cage to pick her up as usual, she bit me. Ferociously. I looked at my bleeding finger and then back at her in complete bewilderment. She gave me a glare that seemed to dare me–just dare me–to put my hand back in the cage. I didn’t.
Unbeknownst to me, my precious pet was on the brink of giving birth on that fateful day. Though I was puzzled and insulted at the time, all these years later I think I am finally beginning to get it. At 35 weeks pregnant and counting, I haven’t bitten anyone yet, but I am not making any promises.
In fact, I think I saw a familiar look of bewilderment in Ambrose’s eyes this afternoon when I asked him, with as much self-control as I could muster at the time, to please stop rubbing-rubbing-rubbing against my arm. Although affectionate bodily contact between mother and child is usually permissible and even encouraged in our household, today I just could not bear another minute of it. Gabrielle had been pawing at me since before breakfast. During morning lessons, Stephen did not let the fact that I no longer have a lap dissuade him from trying to sit in it. Even the dog was forever underfoot. By afternoon, I felt like a laboring hamster trapped in a cage with swarms of juvenile hands threatening to abuse me.
Thankfully, God has provided a solution for motherly moments like these. It’s called: “GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY. RIGHT NOW. I MEAN IT.” I used it on the oldest boys this afternoon with great success. Right now they are burning off all that pent-up male energy with a game of snow basketball in the ice-covered driveway. They probably won’t think to thank their irritable, pregnant mother for forcing them to have such fun, but that’s okay with me. A quiet house and a little bit of personal space are thanks enough.