There’s nothing in life so far that has forced me to face my own flaws like parenthood has. Daily there are flashes of brilliance or tender moments that take place within minutes of epic failure. Work wasn’t really like this; at work, I never would have acted this way.
On Saturday, our children wanted to have a family movie night. We decided to serve them dinner in front of the TV, and as I poured milk for each child, my brain warned me, “You should put this in a lidded cup for Zach. He is going to find a way to spill this.” Sometimes, though, you ignore your inner voice of reason because in the moment, you don’t want to change course because that would require energy you simply don’t have AND you are secretly holding out hope that you could be wrong in your pessimism. It did not take long for Zach to reach for his drink and knock over the full cup on our ottoman. He started crying about spilling it immediately. And what was my reaction? I screamed in frustration, at the top of my lungs, “ZAAAAAAAAAAAACH!!!” (So much for putting into practice the old adage, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.”)
Not long after, we were getting ready for bed and Eliza was singing one line from a song over and over and over again, as she has the habit of doing sporadically for about a total of three hours each day. (That is a conservative estimate.) Thus, she was dressing while chanting, “Stay in the fight ’till the final rou-ound” on an endless loop. I lashed out at her about not wanting to hear it. Then she asked, “Do you not like to hear my singing mama?” And I said, “No, Eliza, I actually don’t like to listen to it when you sing the same thing over and over and over and over. I do like it when you sing a song.” For a five-year-old who seems to have the hormone levels of a 12-year-old mixed with those of a 48-year-old, this of course elicited tears and hurt.
As I cuddled my little girl not long after, she asked me what was wrong. (She has a sixth sense about these things.) I told her that I felt bad about myself for lashing out at Zach the way I did, even though I had apologized, and for making her feel bad about singing. I told her I didn’t like to mess up like that or treat them in those ways. And she said, “Mama, forgive yourself and get over it.” I couldn’t help but smile. I asked where she came up with that, and she raised one shoulder to say “I don’t know” as she pointed toward the ceiling to indicate it came from God.
Although as parents we will mess up daily, unlike with a work job, we can’t get fired. These little beings can’t get rid of us (well, for the most part). And when we don’t treat them the way we should, which for me happens daily, they are so quick to forgive. And then they are over it. Grace like that is nothing shy of breathtaking. So despite our inevitable flaws, our little ones remind us to let go of the bad and cling to the good – those precious moments that are interspersed amid our mess-ups.
Philippians 4:8 Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.