Friday, February 10, 2012
I spend a lot of time these days thinking about how to be a better mother. It seems that every evening when I drag to bed I try to soothe myself to sleep with the promise that tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow will not be a total wash. I will be a better mom tomorrow. Then tomorrow comes and I start off with an optimism that I can only assume comes with extreme fatigue/insanity and inevitably during the day I have that moment.. that moment where I feel the sting of intense personal failure. A character flaw has reared it's ugly head, in an ugly way, and I have crushed one of my children.
Have you ever crushed a child? The feeling is unmistakable. Like yesterday, for instance, when I caught Ada doodling in my open address book with the pen that I left next to it. My response " Are you KIDDING ME ADA?!?!? DO YOU DRAW IN BOOKS?!? DO YOU?!??! NOOOOOO!!!!! THIS IS MOMMY'S SPECIAL ADDRESS BOOK AND NOW IT IS RUINED!!!!" .. at which point I snatched said book from her hands and crammed it back on the bookshelf. Then I turned and saw her face. Trying desperately to hold back the tears.. absolutely crushed. I crushed my child. I crushed my Ada. If I had taken two seconds to think I would have realized that she is only 3 and a half and that she saw a book that I had been writing in, open with the pen I had been using next to it and she just started doing what she had seen me doing. I would have also recognized that I didn't give a rat's ass whether there were stray pen marks in my address book as it is a tool and not an archival publication. I could tell you all the reasons that I lost my temper. I could tell you that it was 4:30 and they had been nagging me all day, I could tell you that I was bone tired and my back was hurting and .. but I won't. What I did was childish and it was entirely selfish. I reverted to the mind of a 10 year old whose sibling is messing with the arrangement of pillows on their bed (ah-hem John..). I was so far from being a mother in that moment I couldn't even see the street sign. I dropped to my knees and scooped her into my arms and I hugged her and asked her to forgive me for hurting her feelings.. for scaring her. I asked her to pray with me and I prayed for forgiveness. And then..... the guilt set in. In my mind when something like that happens during the day .. the rest of the day (no matter how great it may have been) doesn't matter any more. All I will remember is that moment of failure. I have always been my own worst enemy in that way. Always harder on myself than anyone else could be. Recently our pastor spoke about grace. I know what grace is, I don't just give it lip service.. I have experienced it over and over again. Grace is the reason my maiden name isn't on Facebook. Grace lets you start over, and it lets you do this freely. Our Redeemer has doled out more than my fair share of grace in this life. Still something Tyler said really struck me. He said that those of us who are always so hard on ourselves are putting a limit on God's grace. It's like we are saying that our sin is too great for him to cover, so we are going to wallow around in it and try to handle it ourselves. In reality, he said, our sin is like a single grain of sand to Jesus' ocean of grace. Why not toss that grain in, and walk away? That is what He desires us to do. Stop feeling like a failure, toss your failures into that ocean and walk away and start fresh.. right away. You don't have to work for grace, remember? Not with Him. So I am practicing walking away from my F-Squared moments and leaving the guilt behind as well. Not an easy task let me tell you. But it is getting easier, with practice.. and I get to practice.. a lot.
So then this morning the girls were happily playing upstairs for like, 45 minutes and I took that opportunity to have a quiet breakfast with Frankie and read my "Bible Study" (which is really just me reading through the book of Luke) out loud. I am on chapter 18 and when I read the parable of the Pharissee and the Tax Collector I was struck again by a realization. I am both of these characters. I am the Pharisee who desires control over her life and is proud of her accomplishments and looks down on others. Just being honest folks. It happens. I like to pretend I never look down on others but lets get real, it happens. I am also the Tax Collector. I am standing far off, beating myself up for my sins. I am a sinner. The Tax Collector says in verse 13 "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!". When I read this I immediately thought "God, be merciful to me, a mother!". I know I am a sinner, but in this season of my life what I need mercy for is my role as a mother. I need His mercy as I try to navigate my way through these difficult years that leave me exhausted and unable to remember what I enjoy when I am on my own.. other than a big glass of wine and a box of Krispy Kreme I mean. Be merciful to me, a mother. It is still echoing in my head more than 12 hours later. Be merciful to me, a mother. I ask for His mercy for my crazy short comings and I accept the grace that He offers to walk away from my mistakes being washing clean and able to move on. I am working on not letting one outburst spoil an entire day, working on not limiting that grace. It's a work in progress.