When Jesus is Better Than Chocolate (Confessions of an Exhausted Grandmother)
I adore my grandkids—even more than chocolate—and that’s saying a lot. They are great fun and well behaved, but… they are still children. Two of them, very young.
I’m used to living alone.
My home is quiet. My time and space and schedule are my own. So when I’m thrown into the role of Caregiver Grandma, I very quickly succumb to sensory overload. Kids are noisy, even when they’re happy. Maybe even more so when they’re happy. And happy is a good thing. But sometimes their shrieks—and often the non-stop chatting, questions, humming, and the ninth rendition of Frozen’s Let it Go—send my system into what I can only describe as the “finger in an electric outlet” mode. Every nerve in my body stands at attention, on the verge of implosion.
I never have a moment to myself. If I don’t lock the bathroom door, I will most likely get a surprise visitor. Frequently, there’s a knock and a plaintive “Grandma, what are you doing?” while I’m busy doing what I don’t particularly want to say I’m doing. If I don’t dress in the locked bathroom, there’s a good chance a little one will fling wide the bedroom door and there I’ll be, for the whole clan to see, in all my unclad glory.
Board games, card games, adventure walks, tea parties, the tot lot, reading, the belly-button game, watching kids perform on the trampoline or on a bike or on a play structure are all really fun and rewarding. But doing that, back-to-back, from sunrise (often before that) until well after sundown, is exhausting. And in the in-between times there are snacks and meals to prepare, dishes to do, toys and clothes to pick up, noses to wipe, disputes to settle, and of course overseeing yet more snacks and meals. Add to that the nap time and bed time prep and by the time my head hits the pillow at night my parched energy tank is gasping for replenishment.
I’m learning to pray-up ahead of time—long before I pack my bag and head for the airport. Even though I’m a very active and outdoorsy “older woman,” on my own I simply do not have the natural resources, or the energy, to remain patient and joyful with my sweet grandkids for the long haul.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, it’s quite doable.
But I’ll be honest; once I’m caught up in the vortex of crayons, skateboards, bankies, and Chutes and Ladders, it’s easy for God to get lost in the shuffle of the day and the Skip-Bo deck.
I do have a few “coping” secrets. The best and most important one is chocolate—to self-soothe and simply because it’s a yummy, forbidden treat. So I often tuck contraband in my suitcase in the form of dark chocolate M&Ms. The only reason they’re contraband is because if they’re discovered, they will become community property. And I don’t want to share! Each and every little morsel, with its brightly colored, thin candy shell, is intended to be savored, in secret, by me, alone.
Yesterday, as my very tired “fun grandma” persona began sliding down that slippery slope toward the black abyss—and the snarling “evil grandma” was getting ready to emerge from that dark place—my desperate mind screamed,
“I need chocolate!”
But surprisingly, that thought was immediately followed by a different message from somewhere within:
“I need Jesus.”
More than chocolate.
The incredible thing was, I really felt that. I wanted Him. Knew I needed Him. More than chocolate. Wow. Those of you who know me and my obsession with chocolate will appreciate the profundity.
I smiled as I headed toward my small devotional and away from my chocolate stash. In the midst of the mostly happy chaos, I began reading and praying—and immediately felt light seeping in, replacing my exhaustion and impatience and frustration with much-needed energy and joy.
What a difference that made! A big difference. A better grandma. And a much happier one!
So from now on, when the going gets rough I’m going to remember I have a choice.
Chocolate gives me a sweet escape from the moment;
Jesus enables me to sweetly embrace the moment.
Hmmm. I choose Jesus. He’s better than chocolate.
“I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world. Accept each day as it comes, and find Me in the midst of it all.” — Jesus Calling