Our first day back to school from the longest break ever, and her words echo in my mind.
"I don't know why but I just get so...angry. I need to stop."
We'd talked it out and she shared her plan to get back on track, to find her triggers, to make a real effort to rid her life of anger. I think about it when his temper flares white hot and he walks through the house kicking and hitting everything within reach, his voice shaking the very foundations here. Where's my foundation in the face of four year old fury?
"Don't get emotionally involved," I tell myself. "This isn't about you."
In the morning when the day still feels like it can be salvaged, it works. I take deep breaths when my second grader groans over handwriting. I refuse to engage when my 5th grader tries to barter his way out of his work. I knew this first day back would be hard and boy, it doesn't disappoint. We all push back against the confines of schedule and school after weeks of doing whatever we please.
But in the deep winter when we're all jammed and crammed one next to the other, in the afternoon when that baby was awakened by another tantrum that just couldn't be contained, I had had it. I could feel it bubbling below the surface. My breathing changed. The blood pounded in my ears. The baby upstairs howling and I just couldn't take it any more.
That's when logic goes clean out the window, when I behave in the same way I'm furious at someone who is 20-odd years younger for behaving. When the stress of it all takes me right back down to square one and all my intentions and hopes fly clean out the window. His face says it all and I'm a guilty mess.
After dinner, I get the baby to sleep. It's dark and the kids are running through their laundry lists of bedtime excuses. There is chatter and teeth brushing and the girls with a flashlight under the blankets, playing my little pony. A voice calls me - "Mama - Kiss and hug! Mama!! Don't forget! Kiss and hug, Mama!"
Into the boys' room that my three share, he's on the top bunk, reaching out to me. "Can we do four of each tonight?" I half climb the ladder and we count them out together. Four kisses and four hugs for my four year old boy. All fury forgotten, he whispers quietly in my ear:
"I love you more than anything."
And that's really it, then. How it goes. The forgiveness. The Do-over. The courage to try and try and try again.
If my 4 year old has that for me, surely God does, too.
When I'm all tantrum and fuss and everything seems to rub me the wrong way, He's there whispering it - I love you more than anything. Even now. Even though. And no, nothing will separate us. It takes courage to reach out and grasp Grace and to let it be enough. But once I do, I realize - it is.
Another day is done and my nighttime prayer claims grace to cover it all.
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
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