The morning blew up in my face.
Okay, I blew up in my children’s faces.
I should have known it was coming. Some “issues” had bubbled under my surface for weeks.
We had just reviewed natural cycles in science class. When I had to face my own natural cycle.
Irritations happen. I swallow them down. They build up. I address them calmly, for a while. But they continue. I deal with them, or pretend not to hear because I’m making oatmeal muffins.
Irritations persist. I take the offenders to scripture. They understand a little. But they continue to complain and argue. I sit them down for a talk. Or I don’t this time, because I’m teaching an English lesson.
And then that morning happens. We have to get out the door, so I assign tasks. They do their usual—start and get sidetracked. So I do my usual—feel irritated I have to waste more words on stupid reminders.
I don’t get sidetracked. My one thing is to get them out the door with shoes on. Okay, with shoes and coats and gloves and hats and backpacks and snacks and waters (times four).
Our resident grumbler complains about my snack choice. I sweetly remind him he does like pretzels and apple sauce, and if he wants a snack today, this is it. He returns 30 seconds later with a granola bar. “Can’t I just take this for snack???”
I semi-sweetly remind him that now it’s about the principle of the thing. So no, and get back to the shoes I told you to put on. He returns, my persistent one. He believes if he asks enough times, he’ll eventually wear me down.
He does wear me down. Weeks of complaints have added up to this moment. I promise him extra work to do later, and tell him with an eye roll I’ve had enough of his complaints to last me a month or forever.
After only 17 minor setbacks, we are almost all in the car. Then I hear a child spewing unkind words to another because no good reason.
Now I think in all caps, in long, run-on sentences.
WHAT IN THE WORLD, HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SPEND MY TIME DEALING WITH ALL THIS CRAP??? I’M WORKING MY BUTT OFF FOR THEM, AND ALL THEY CAN DO IS WHINE AND COMPLAIN AND FIGHT AND…..
Swallowed irritations tidal wave out. I speak harshly. I show them how to react in anger, how to make it all about yourself, how to preach grace one day and throw it out the window the next. What a mess.
After I apologize, after I admit I just taught them things I don’t believe, I wonder how to end this cycle of mine.
The irritations will come. I can’t change that.
But what if my perspective changed? What if I forgave them every single day, and let the irritations go–instead of swallowing hard and letting them build?
With my big kids, we’ve left the adorable, can’t-do-wrong, let-me-hold-you-longer stage of motherhood. I miss it.
Now motherhood becomes a marathon of forgiveness. Or it should.
How might that morning (or others like it) change if I choose to forgive each frustration as it happens?
Could I learn to see time spent talking through difficulties as a gift instead? A chance to lay foundations and build something beautiful in their hearts?
Oh, if only I could remember all the wrong I’ve done–the wrong I still do, and the way I’m fully forgiven…
Maybe then their childhood wouldn’t need to be such a marathon of forgiveness.