The boys use unkind tones with one another and their patience seems non-existent. With edgy frustration, I correct them constantly.
The older two have trouble staying focused on their schoolwork. I am bothered by their distractibility.
They forget to pick up after themselves and they'd always rather play or make art.
I fuss at her for not being ready on time.
She misplaces things, often, and it flies all over me. And every time it happens, I am quick to remind her of how frequently she does this.
She asks 20 questions about Jesus and demons and the Pharisees and I become exasperated that I cannot even get through a chapter of the New Testament without all of why's and what's. She is such a skeptic, I think to myself, annoyed by her unending dialectic.
They tend toward selfishishness with their stuff and their space and I tell them to share and treat one another the way they would want to be treated. But it seems they don't listen.
I pray for patience. I don't like my tone. And I can't seem to change as quickly as I'd like to. Or at all.
Many days, I'd rather write or read or make art than teach them math or grammar.
I struggle to be ready on time and have them ready too.
This morning I lost my phone.
Distracted by e-mail, I forget to finish breakfast.
I read through one chapter of the New Testament with them and ask 20 questions in my head. I'm not brave enough to voice them like she does.
I keep my chocolate out of their reach and don't share my soda. The mama deserves a few things of her own, I rationalize.
They mess up all day long. And so do I, their messes often mirroring my own and vice versa.
Instead of the circle of life, we are the circle of mess.
They are desperately searching for assurance that they are just as loved when they screw up. And I'm searching for it too.
In case you can't tell, there's been a lot of mess around here, literal mess and soul mess. And with that comes desperate longing for grace and forgiveness and consolation that we are still okay.
Recently Blondie turned 10 and requested a trip to Build A Bear, just the two of us. On the way we had a conversation that went something like this:
Mommy, do you miss me being a baby?Yes, sometimes I do. Sometimes I wish I could go back and start over because I feel like I'd be a better mom.But you can't be a perfect mom. Everyone makes mistakes. Even if you started over you wouldn't necessarily be better. Nobody can be a perfect mommy.
I turned away so she wouldn't see the tears and I scribbled our short, profound dialogue on a piece of scrap paper when I stopped at the next red light.
Often I wonder why she's not the mommy. At times, she seems wiser. And she is certainly more gracious. All three of them are so very forgiving each time I ask their forgiveness, something I do a lot of and yet probably not enough of. They never deny me grace, not even for a second.
They don't expect me, at 37, to be perfect. But I have a default tendency to expect them, at 10, 7 and 3, to get it right more than they get it wrong.
It stings to write that but it's the truth.
Jesus says that the kingdom belongs to "such as these," that we grown-ups would be wise to take off our blurry, scratched, grown-up lenses and see the world like a child sees it. That we should model our faith after little ones.
The upside-down-ness of it all gets me every time.
Desperately, I pray that He will grow up my grace and my faith to be more like theirs.
And in one way they do listen to what I say about treating others the way they want to be treated...they teach me, through their unconditional love toward a failing, flailing mama, how to love them.