The other day I was reading with David and I put my arm around him and said, “David, do you know Mommy loves you so much?”
He looked up at me and replied, “But, Mommy. Sometimes you say…you say…you say that…”
He started to stutter as he searched for the right word. I held my breath; I wasn’t sure what he was gearing up for.
“Mommy, sometimes you say that you don’t want me to grow up.”
I exhaled — relief. Because, really, he could have said anything.
Once I told him he was being a bully. He was standing in the living room holding a toy over Mary Virginia’s head, laughing, while she cried and jumped for it. Like a bully.
A few hours later, David told me it hurt his feelings that I had called him a bully. I’ll admit, part of me thought, GOOD! You should feel bad because YOU WERE BEING A BULLY! And another part of me felt horrible, terrible, like the worst mom ever.
We sat together and I apologized, then for as long as his four-year old attention span allowed, we talked about the word “bully.” I tried to explain that he was acting like a bully, but that’s not what he is. What he is is a child of God, made in the image of God, for the glory of God. And around that time he asked me for a granola bar.
And so go lessons with little ones.
My kids forgive easily. Once the tears are dried they get distracted and move on. I’m the one who keeps a record of wrongs. I’m the one who says things like, “You two have been terrible ALL DAY!”
They forgive even when I don’t apologize, even when I choose to stew in my selfishness and turn inward because I have decided my anger is justified! My kids have been crazy all day and I barely slept last night and I made homemade pancakes for breakfast! I DESERVE! I DESERVE!!
They forgive when I choose my temper instead of tenderness, or impatience instead of love; my kids forgive me every single time. When they crawl into my lap just moments after I lose my temper, their tenderness is a reminder that Christ’s grace covers my shortcomings, that he never stops forgiving. Their love reminds me that even on my worst days, God is at work.
These little children, the ones God has entrusted me with, they teach me so much about forgiveness and God’s deep love, vast beyond all measure.
“When I view motherhood not as a gift from God to make me holy but rather as a role with tasks that get in my way, I am missing out on one of God’s ordained means of spiritual growth in my life. Not only that, but I am missing out on enjoying God.“
– Gloria Furman, Treasuring Christ when your Hands are Full
Nap time is my least favorite time of day. Putting Mary Virginia down for her nap is always, always a battle. Sometimes the battle lasts five minutes, sometime it lasts more than an hour. Either way, I am always tempted to anger, every single time. Mary Virginia always goes down for her nap in a blaze of glory.
By the time she wakes up, she’s a different child. Sleepy and sweet, she rests her head on my shoulder and it’s like nothing ever happened.
“Baby, I’m sorry I yelled at you,” I say.
“Mama I’m sorry you yelled at me, too.”
I don’t have to apologize. After all, she’s two. She doesn’t really understand, and she won’t remember this. But I do have to, because my heart aches for reconciliation; because it’s good for my soul. I hope it’s good for hers, too.