Friday, September 9, 2011

{Lessons Learned}

5pm.  Time to start thinking about dinner.  I get a good head start before the baby wakes and slows my progress.  Husband snoozes upstairs, recovering from a long night at work.  I turn to my 6 year old daughter for help.

I find myself doing this more and more often as of late.  I call and she comes running, ready to fetch, to carry, to hold, to help.  I learn to push aside impatience even as I train her to help me fold a family sized load of laundry, stack dishes and sweep floors.

Tonight I ask her to open a bag of  peas, carefully pour them in the bowl I provide.  I jiggle fussy baby on my hip and stir sauce into pasta.

The bowl is too small, she goes too quickly and suddenly there are frozen peas rolling in every which direction, much to the toddler's delight.  And before I can stop myself, out of me pours pure poison.

"Dinah!  I said carefully!  Great, now look at this mess!"

Even as the words tumble out, I know they are wrong, wrong, horribly wrong.  Her head bows meekly.  I try to bite my tongue.

"I'm sorry, Mom...the bowl was too small and I lost control."

She scrambles to retrieve tiny green orbs rolling here and there.

No, sweet, it was I who lost control.

I, who wonders if I'll ever get this thing right.  Motherhood is the final exam but there was no preparing me for this and I wonder if she knows that even Mamas are in desperate need of daily forgiveness.  Unending grace. 

My face grows hot.  She counts out 6 forks and heads into the dining room to set the table, unasked.

Am I to be the first to break her heart?  Her own mother, the first to make her feel the sting of failure?

I think of all the mothers I have known.  My own and those of others.  How quickly and how easily we can judge them all and find them lacking in one way or another.  Becoming a Mom has transformed my view of these women - the ones who have lived lives poured out to others, yet fumble in predictably human ways.  Imperfect.  In need of grace.  In need of forgiveness from the very children they brought into this world.

I finish preparing dinner and find the table set, neatly waiting.  Dinah folding napkins.

I cup her little face in my hands and tell her how marvelous she is. How much I love her.  She smiles and pats my hand.

"Its ok, Mom.  I know."

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 18:2-6 ESV

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  1. This made me cry this morning. You're one sentence - "Am I the first to break my daughter's heart?" stabbed me in my own. How many times have I snapped at her or lost my temper for making even the smallest error. I hate seeing the sadness in her eyes when I do that -- and I hate it more that I've put that look there.

    I am printing out this post today and putting it on my dresser where I can see it every day. And work harder to try to keep my own attitude in check. I'm also sharing this on my own FB page.

    Thank you for this reminder!!

    ~ Jennifer

  2. Katherine helped me make dinner last night while Matthew and Joshua napped. She snapped peas, dredged and blackened the fish with me, and put in the water the corn she had helped shuck. Without a single mess...It was fun to cook with her, and she was very proud of and enjoyed the meal she helped cook. It's worth all the times she has made terrible messes in the kitchen while learning to get to this point where she really is a help!

  3. Oh, I've often wondered what memories of me will stick in my kids' head as they get older. I remember my mom as a yeller and have trouble remembering simple fun times. It seemed a clean house or car was more important than us. I've learned to pick my battles and be okay with a messier house, and hopefully happier kids.
    Its hard to hold it together all the time. I have four kids and am trying to be more patient and understanding but on the flip side have been zoning out too much. Ignoring the fighting till someone gets hurt and comes crying.
    Still working out a balance. I think knowing how I want to be remembered as their mom will help me keep myself in check. Thanks for the reminder :)

  4. Thank you for your transparency. I, too, have done this more than I'd like to remember. The sting of a quick and harsh tongue hurts my children and myself. I pray the Lord's mercy and grace over all I do and say and I pray he will smooth out the edges and make these children who he wants, in spite of me. Oh, that He would soften me and help me to be kind to these littles.

  5. real and human. Hard to share but good for all the other moms to hear. thanks!!

  6. Thank you , as usual Lydia. Your insight and honesty has gripped me in such an immediate way, for i, too have committed this horrible sting and wonder how it will affect my children's lives and their memories of me. I think the most important part of your message is to remember that although we all make mistakes, it's vitally important that we own up to them, appologize to those we've hurt and keep on trying to do better everyday.

  7. I cried. I hope you know how incredibly used of God you are to share these things. They help us grow as mother's and inspire us to do better with God's help. Thank you so much for your raw honesty. This post is one that we can all relate to personally. We fail, but His grace is sufficient and made perfect in our weakness. Still wrestling out what that means but I have faith that He will see the work He has begun to completion. What a beautiful mother you are...


  8. Thank you for this post. My five year old daughter comes up to me almost everyday asking what she can do to help me. What a sweet girl! And yet, I find myself snapping at her when she doesn't do something quite right. Thank you for you honesty. Thank you for letting me know that I'm not alone.

  9. How this post spoke to me... Sometimes having a first born daughter, helper is such a gift but I too find myself jumping on her then wondering why she is such a perfectionist. The poison...My expectation that she will do things with adult hands and not hands of a 7 year old...

    Sigh... Thankful for His mercies are NEW every morning.

  10. I found your charming blog yesterday and I must say I scrolled back and back til I read through the entire thing!
    You are a superb writer and write about what is near and dear to my heart.
    Hugs and God bless,

  11. First to break her heart, and first to heal it, teach it how to enjoy the world, show it the way to love God, give it opportunity to laugh, cry, forgive...
    You're a momma, and you get that first place for both good and hard stuff.
    Praise be, that your daughter finds it easy to forgive. That's something she learned from you!

  12. I apologize to my children frequently. I want them to know that grownups make mistakes too, and that we take responsibility for them, even to our children. Thanks for sharing this, Lyd.

  13. My friend Kristen told me about your blog. I can relate to this post, especially the part about how you have a deeper understanding and compassion for the mothers in your life who have made mistakes that hurt. I've been thinking about that a lot actually.

  14. Thank you all for your kind words! I have a lot to apologize for, so I try and remember to do it with my children. I want them to know that, not only do Mom's make mistakes, but they recognize them and are sorry, too. It seems we focus on getting our children to apologize so much that sometimes we can forget to do it ourselves.


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