As an unrelated intro, can I just say that at the rate we’re going, I’m fairly certain we will not exit the toddler years with any remaining silverware. I mean, do they EAT it? Absorb it into their tiny bodies? It remains one of the great mysteries of the universe.
Speaking of mysteries of the universe, I lost my keys yesterday. But I was in Fort Wayne, two hours from home, so you know, not a big deal. I was having a nice time visiting with a friend and her baby, when suddenly a hole was ripped in the *BLEEPing* space-time continuum and sucked in my keys. Or that’s how it seems. We had four people looking for those keys for a solid hour. My disgusting pigsty of a van was laid bare before the eyes of two single, childless men (my friend’s brothers-in-law), and my children got increasingly tired from their lack of naps, and therefore increasingly cranky. All the while, we were hanging out in the home of strangers. My husband’s grandmother who lives in Fort Wayne came and rescued us, but not before also poking her head into my nasty van. We proceeded to her house, and continued the parade of my failure as a person and mother, as my kids, other than Mavis, refused to sleep and became so wired that they were only capable of watching episode after episode of Curious George, and emitting various shrill, grating laughs. Being that we were in places where I did not feel exactly comfortable with letting out my emotions, I instead held in all the frustration and embarrassment, simmering inside until 10pm when I lost my shit and unloaded all my pent up emotion on my three year old daughter. So if I felt like a failure before, the spiral was out of control at that point.
I always thought I was comfortable with being an emotional person, but I’m figuring out I’m not. I like expressing emotion on my terms, in settings that feel comfortable and safe to me, and in ways that make logical sense. Because that’s how emotions should work, right? The “T” in my Myers Briggs profile is obviously strong in me, a fact I am only recently realizing.
So, rather than finding an appropriate outlet for my anger, I simmered til I exploded all over an innocent bystander, my sweet first born whom God entrusted to me to protect and grow and point to him. I really, really hate when teachable moments happen in the midst of, or because of, my extreme failure. Before experiencing reality, I envisioned having these kinds of deep conversations when I feel close to her, when I like her, when we’re snuggling peacefully before bed (hahaha), not when the tension of my inner rage is practically making the air crackle.
So I lost my temper. I told her that I was so sorry, I should not have lost my temper like that. She said, “it’s ok, mama.” I talked some more, about how I was feeling and how I didn’t control myself, but I can’t remember what I said because she kept saying “But…it’s ok though.” And all of a sudden, I realized it was more like a question she was asking, even though she was saying it like a statement. Screeching halt. Deep breath. “No, honey. It was not ok for me to act like that. It was not ok. I’m so sorry, will you forgive me?” She did, immediately, of course, because she has so much grace for me. More than I often have for her.
Matthew drove for hours to pick up his truck and come to Fort Wayne to bring us the spare key. I sobbed wildly in his arms for a few minutes, forgetting even to say “thank you” or “I’m so glad you’re here.” We drove home in the middle of the night, arriving with a sigh of relief at 1:30 in the morning. But, while I don’t think this will ever be a funny story to me (“hey remember that time your keys disappeared and you inconvenienced everyone and everything was terrible? That was hilarious!”), I am already thankful that I got the chance to tell Eliza that it is never ok to sin against other people. Even when you’re tired. Even when you’re hormonal. Even when you have lots of excuses. It’s not ok to treat people poorly, or to take out anger on them. And it’s not ok when I do it, either. I’m not applying some double standard to myself. I’ve seen the havoc that double standard can wreak and I pray God I am able to stay far away from it. I am so thankful that I am able to humbly apologize to her and ask her forgiveness, because I know that over time, that will help her feel like she can do the same to others, when she messes up. I’m still trying to remind myself today that my failures don’t mean I’m an unfit mother, I’m trying to stop the downward spiral that follows a bad day. I mean, I am a bad mom sometimes, because I am a bad person sometimes (all the time, really). But those failures are not the measure of me, thanks to the grace of God. I can own my failures boldly in front of my children, admit that my behavior was not ok, at all, and rest in the promise that, in due season I will see the fruit of all this growth, or attempts at growth.
“Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.” -Galatians 6:9
“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” -1 John 3:19-20