It had been one of those days. Chaos and noise at every turn and I was in desperate need of a break. With a swift rendition of our naptime routine, I ran down the stairs from my boys’ room to the solace of my favorite chair, ready to just enjoy the silence of naptime for a couple of precious hours.
Or the silence of about thirty seconds.
As I settled in, my older son called down the stairs, telling me that he had to put his little brother in timeout for spitting. Oh joy. I took a breath, and I went up to their room to find my toddler, ever the obliging little brother, standing happily in the space his brother had apparently designated for time out. He was sipping on his drink and then gleefully spitting it down the front of his shirt. Because that’s how he rolls. My older son was watching me expectantly, and I clarified that only Mommy and Daddy can put kids in timeout. Upon hearing this, he turned to his little brother, kindly knelt down at eye level and said patiently “Ok, you can get out of time out now. But we don’t spit juice on our shirts. Do you understand”? Followed by a little “I forgive you” hug.
For a moment, I forgot about my need for a break. I felt so humbled that my son followed the example I try to set by showing kindness and grace. And I also felt a huge sense of relief.
Confession time: I am not a perfect parent. This moment could have easily gone another way. It had been a rough day and my son (following my occasionally less than stellar example) could have started barking orders to change into a dry shirt and going on about how “if anyone could PLEASE have self control, that would be great”. Because sometimes I just do not have it together. But his kind words made me realize those times I fall so short of the mom I want to be are not the difference makers. The 10% of the time that I mess up is what I focus on. Its what sends me spiraling into mommy guilt. But my children are taking in the other 90% of the time that I take a deep breath, pray for patience, and make the choice to show love and grace. The reality is those mistakes we make occasionally aren’t having nearly the impact that our day in and day our actions are.
So chin up mamas. Every time you close your eyes, take a deep breath and will yourself to shut down your anger and impatience….it makes a difference. Every time you choose kind words and show your children grace, that leaves a lasting impression. And that one out of ten times that you mess up and bark orders or hand down an impatient consequence…..it doesn’t automatically discount all the hundreds of times you have given them grace and love and that last shred of your sanity. It doesn’t.
And I find that so encouraging.
So let’s ask God for His grace. Let’s receive it for ourselves and give it freely to our children, so that is the example etched in their minds and hearts. It’s the everyday grace we give again and again, not the occasional mistake, that is the difference maker.