It’s been a few weeks now since I last “lost it” with my kids. I feel like I wear an electronic sign on my head that says, “23 days without incident.” What will it say tomorrow? “24,” I hope.
I’m a mom. Losing my patience is a hazard of the job.
Before having kids, I pictured my future self as the perfect balance of nurture and tough love, an embodiment of the fruit of the Spirit—always patient, always kind. Calm at all times. But then I gave birth to Jalynn—smart, passionate, strong-willed little J. My perfect (and unrealistic) plan wasn’t the only thing she’d break.
We were at the park at the time of my last incident. Jalynn was racing up the steep concrete steps that separate the duck pond from the playground. Malakye toddled behind his sister, failing in his attempts to keep up. Jalynn slipped and fell. The result? One tiny speck of blood and an emotional reaction fit for the victim of a broken limb. Her frantic sobs attracted a crowd—babies with worried looks, grandmas with first-aid kits and cell phones in hand, fingers poised to dial “911.” I tried to smile, to laugh it off as I hauled her like an awkward piece of furniture to the top of the hill and applied a small Dora band-aid to her tanned knee. I tried reasoning with her. But her cries only got louder. She had lost it.
Then so did I. Loud words, rough body language, angry eyes. Right there in front of the onlookers. I’m not sure what bothered me more—Jalynn’s embarrassing matinee or the fact that she’d thwarted my storyline for the day. I’d lost control (in more ways than one).
Back in the privacy of our mini-van, I cried the whole way home. My tears of frustration eventually gave way to a different kind—the tears that fall when I’m overwhelmed by Grace. I had lost it. I had failed my daughter that day. But He hadn’t. He still wanted to make something beautiful from my ashes.
A few minutes later, I put Malakye down for a nap and walked wordlessly into Jalynn’s room where she lay on her bed, dirt and dry tears staining her still-round face. I sat down next to her; she cuddled into my arms. “I’m sorry for the way I acted, baby,” I told her. Then I prayed simple words of confession and praise to our loving God.
We continued to sit quietly for a while, feeling each other breathe, resting in the cover of God’s perfect love.