…but of late I’ve been questioning God’s judgment in selecting me as the mother of four children. Granted, They* took one of our kids back — I hope that wasn’t because I flunked out of motherhood-of-four.

I would not have self-identified as a mother of four, especially when our oldest needed absolutely everything done for her. Having a fourth wasn’t intentional, at least, it was not our intention.

I love our youngest to pieces, don’t get me wrong. But he has been a handful of challenging uniqueness ever since we peeked at him via ultrasound at 20 weeks gestation. Having one child with severe special needs is hard enough. Two, paired with two other healthy children, will send you over the edge. The year and a half before Elli died was full of hospital stays, surgeries, meds, and panic, and seriously lacking in sleep, time, calm, and being caught up.

Now, we have three in our home again, a different three than we started with. And Mr Challenging Uniqueness is now Two Years Old. He is defiant, bossy, independent, and stubborn. To be fair, he’s also charming, affectionate, entertaining, and loves to shake his booty (when he isn’t announcing to everyone “I tooted”). I love him so much I could burst.

But, he’s wearing me down.

I have caught myself, on more than one occasion in the last few days, thinking, “I’m just not up to this for a fourth time.”

Establishing myself as boss who requires respect and immediate obedience without complaining is hard work with any child, but it’s especially challenging with this boy. And I’m just plain tired. It isn’t like nothing else is going on in our lives. I’m frustrated from working on the same stuff over and over, day after day, and seeing little to no progress. What I see is repeated refusal to ask instead of demand, come instead of play keep-away, and accept my decisions instead of screeching at the top of his lungs for 20 minutes in all-consuming rage because I turned left instead of right.

I feel thankful some days that Elli isn’t with us any longer because I know I’d be Raving Lunatic Mom if I was dealing with Little Boy’s defiance AND caring for Elli too. And then I feel guilty for being thankful.

And then I ask God, “Why again, did You think I was a four-kid/special needs mom? Because I’m not handling this well at all. In fact, to be perfectly candid (and because you know it better than I do anyway), I really suck at this.”

But I don’t really need to hear why. Because I suspect it’s rather like what happens when you pray “God, help me be a more patient person.” Suddenly you’re put into a bazillion situations back-to-back in which you must practice being patient. And you flop and you crash-and-burn and you fail again and again. And then, imperceptibly, hopefully, you don’t flop quite so bad. And then one day you actually handle something ok. And one day, when you’re a great-grandparent and you’re helping your grand-daughter figure this mom-thing out for the first time and you’re completely unflappable in face of meconium and projectile spit-up and nursing woes, you realize God has answered your prayer. You are actually, finally, a patient person.

It’s just so doggone time-consuming and failure-ridden. I don’t want to be an unflappable great-grandmother of dozens. I want to be a great unflappable mother of four. Now. Except, I want it to just miraculously happen, with the snap of my fingers. I’m too selfish and lazy to put in the hard work, to make better choices, to respond more quietly and patiently.

And God just keeps kicking my selfish lazy butt off the couch.

Great great-grandmother-hood, here I come. One millimeter at a time.

*Since English lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun, I refer to God as They.