I’ll never forget The Pasta Scoop Incident of 2010.
It all started when I got a phone call. Seven years ago, people still used corded phones, so when my dad called from Illinois, I found myself tied to the landline in my bedroom. Dad had called to ask me what to get my son for his third birthday. The birthday boy himself was jumping up and down on my bed yelling at the top of his lungs while my one-year-old explored the floor looking for things to put in his mouth. The connection wasn’t great between Arizona and Illinois. I squeezed the receiver against my ear to hear, holding the phone cradle in the air so the one-year-old wouldn’t hang up the call, giving the three-year-old the Glare of Ice to quell his screams. It was then that I saw he had the pasta scoop from the bathroom—
Time out. Pasta scoop from the bathroom? you might be wondering. (Or if you have kids, you were thinking, Yes. Pasta scoop in the bathroom. Perfectly reasonable.) Don’t you mean the kitchen? Maybe you keep a pasta scoop in the bathroom as some kind of bath toy? No, that would be the spatula we kept in the bathroom. The pasta scoop in the bathroom was to fish out whatever items the one-year-old threw in the toilet when we happened to leave the lid open. Really, it was quite handy. I would recommend the Bathroom Pasta Scoop for any family with toddlers. But, back to the story—
He was banging it on a pile of books on my bed. Suddenly my heart—and my conversation with my dad—stopped. Because I saw that my three-year-old had jammed the metal scoop ice pick-style into my Bible. The Bible I’ve had since I was 19, the first one I ever bought for myself, the one I’ve pored over, cried over, rejoiced over. MY BIBLE. Ravaged as though a dog attacked it.
OH. YOU. DID. NOT. CHILD.
In that moment, I truly didn’t know what to do. Dad was going on about a couple he set up in college and how the bride got sick and was in the hospital and fell in love with an orderly and called it off and I wasn’t about to scream into the phone, “Dad, I have to go! My Bible’s been attacked!” No need to get him concerned his daughter was about to be martyred in her bedroom.
Somehow, I managed to get off the phone get the Bible away from my three-year-old. I corralled him into my arms, trying to stay cool. I explained as calmly as possible the significance of the book he had damaged. I think I said something like this: “Gabriel, this is my Bible. This is God’s book that He wrote. It tells us lots of stories about Him and all about how He loves us, and it’s the most important book in the world. When you banged it with that scoop, you damaged it, and that makes me very, very upset. Please do not ever do that again.” He looked repentant and nodded. I offered a quick prayer of thanks that I hadn’t acted on my first impulse, which had been to throw him onto his toddler bed and spank him. “I’ll teach you not to hit my Bible, kid!”
Still, I was angry. Angry not just about my Bible getting damaged, but about my whole miserable week. I hit a guy on a bike with my car. An enormous, terrifying, unidentifiable brown spider had showed up in my kitchen. I got a bad haircut. My husband got sick. Both my kids had been having screaming fits. I lost both my iPod Touch (remember those?) and one of my favorite earrings. It all made me feel really stinkin’ sorry for myself. Pretty soon I was in a serious funk, gnawing on all the yuck of life and brooding about how even my Bible had been violated.
I was lost in these dark thoughts in the shower one day when suddenly the Lord spoke to me in His still, small voice.
“Don’t look at this incident as one more way your week went badly,” He whispered. “The marks on your Bible aren’t just tears made by a bathroom pasta scoop. They are your beautiful battle scars, a symbol of everything you are weathering in raising these children. Every time you look at your Bible, you can be reminded that I see your sacrifice for your family.”
This quiet message turned my thinking around that day. I realized that not only was I blowing the Bathroom Pasta Scoop Incident way out of proportion, but that it represented a profound truth about motherhood. As a mother, every day I take one for the team. My stretch marks, my prematurely graying hair, even the glorious mess of my kitchen are all the physical evidence of my call to love and serve my family. The gouges on my Bible are no different. Raising kids means some damage is inevitable, whether to our bodies, our hearts, or our treasured possessions. It’s part of the package, and it’s worth it.
Seven years later, I have yet to replace my torn Bible. When I see the dog bite-like marks on its cover, I can laugh at the incident that put them there. They serve as a meaningful reminder of the battle scars of motherhood I’m proud to have earned.