I don’t recall how the conversation began or even what we were talking about, but I know that as I stood there washing the dishes I was feeling ashamed of myself as a parent, like I wasn’t good enough. Searching for validation or even a good pat on the back, I asked my eldest if he thought I was a good Mommy. Confession: I knew even while asking that it was a loaded question, that I could be sure he knew what I wanted to hear; he’s a child, not a fool.
Sometimes I think you’re the worst Momma in the world. Sometimes I think you’re the best Momma in the world. Sometimes I don’t think anything at all. I laughed out loud at the last statement he made, because it was so honest. To be honest, though, I kept clinging to what he said first: the worst Momma. I’m sure he thinks that in those moments when he’s annoyed at having to complete another chore or when he’s disappointed in his discipline. Then there are the times when I’m just in such a bad mood that I’ve actually provoked him to anger with my words or deeds–he’s justified in his anger in those moments.
“You make me want to be a better Momma,” I told him. He seemed confused at my remark. Though I don’t exactly recall my next words for some reason, it went something like…”I know that I don’t always honor the Lord with how I speak to you or treat you. I know that I’m to love Jesus with all my heart, my soul, my strength, and my mind. When I treat you with unkindness, I’m not loving Him with everything I have. I’m also not loving you the way I love myself.”
Somehow that moment of seeking to receive flowery words of praise turned into a gentle reminder from my loving Heavenly Father of His commands in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37.
Fast forward to that evening. I decided to put aside my desires to always have control in
my the kitchen and let the Big and Medium Bananas help me make puppy chow for dessert. This was a pretty big deal for me as I don’t like messes, and this particular recipe involves things like mixing lose ingredients, powdered sugar, and shaking a bag to distribute said powdered sugar. My Big Banana had the chance to shake the baggie of cereal with the powdered sugar (a Ziploc, no less, which is supposed to be so much stronger than the store brand), and he did so with great gusto. Can you guess what happened next? Tiny Banana, who had occupied himself with something on the floor beneath us suddenly received a shower of sugar-chocolate-peanut butter-coated cereal. Oh, and any of the powdered sugar that hadn’t yet adhered to said cereal was now coming to a rest on his pajamas, his curls, and the floor surrounding him.
I may have exploded.
Of course, when I say “may” I mean “I definitely did”. The very event that I’d imagined (sorta) happening in
my the kitchen had happened: there was food all over the floor and the baby instead of in the baggie where it should have stayed. My ideal for perfect execution of a recipe with two children had gone awry as things often do when small hands are involved. I yelled foolish words about the mess and how I should never have invited them to do this recipe, etc., stupid rant, etc. As I cleaned it up, Big Banana excused himself.
By the time I’d finished and even cooled my jets enough to finish the recipe with their help, Big Banana re-emerged from his bedroom. “Where did you go?” I got into my bed and asked God to help me be a better listener and to follow instructions better.
I got on my knees as I realized I, too, needed to ask God for help to be a better listener and obeyer. I looked my eldest in the eyes and couldn’t do anything other than hug him and try to gain control over my desire to weep big, hot tears. I apologized for my words and for my behavior. I tried to explain that messes and dirt feel like chaos to me, and chaos makes me feel angry. (I know there is WAY more to it than that, but he’s only 7). I asked his forgiveness, and I told him that he teaches me so much about how to love Jesus more. Then we picked up from where we’d left off, and we ate our puppy chow while watching some Big Hero 6.
Who knows what he thought about those moments? Maybe one day he’ll recount for me what was going through his mind that day, maybe not. I can tell you that I’m so thankful for the lessons I learned that day, and I want to hold on to them.
I love the way God made children so very resilient and forgiving. It’s as if He’s giving us a peek at how He offers the same kind of forgiveness of sins when we get down on our knees and admit to Him that we need His forgiveness.
I am thankful for the small moment when the Lord showed me that what we’re trying to teach our children is starting to sink in for the eldest: pray and ask God for help, because He will strengthen you obey Him.
I’m thankful some of the powdered sugar fell onto the baby. I discovered that if I put my face next to his head and inhaled through my mouth, the air tasted sweet. Haha. I’m weird, I know. Maybe a bit gross if I consider whatever else may have landed in his hair that day. Mmm. Tasty.
I’m so thankful that God is using my family to spur me on to looking more like His Son Jesus. I hate that sometimes my lessons come at the expense of others, but that’s just how life is. I’m thankful that God is molding and shaping me.
And I’m thankful for that moment when I could be vulnerable with my sons and let them know how my heart was both desiring to love God and fighting against it at the same time. It’s a paradox they’ll continue to learn as they grow older.
Thank You, Jesus, for Your lovingkindness toward us, for Your patience, for Your forgiveness.