Just a few weeks into the summer and I am still trying to get my rhythm. The routine for this stay at home mom changed drastically as soon as the last school bell ran on June 23rd. Although I welcomed the change of pace, I soon became undone by the pot luck days that mark the passing of time. I have been a little frazzled juggling the usual duties, (cooking, cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping), being my children’s cruise director, chauffeur, and concierge, all the while trying to them and all that summer brings. The kids enrolled in a few camps... throw in swim team practice, swim lessons, the reading program at the library, play dates, visits with the grandparents... no two days look alike.
I say this all not to complain, really! I truly love the summer. It brings warmer weather and the opportunity to spend more time with my kids, two of my favorite things.
However, this summer has brought with it the feeling of inadequacy, a feeling that I can’t keep up or maintain balance. It almost seems like every day is a free for all and I am just along for the ride.
This morning in particular, the kids were complaining – big time. One didn’t want to participate in swim practice, the other was didn't like my suggestion of practicing the piano, and yet another was hungry – again! I lost it. As I got out of the car (we had just gotten home from some activity) I yelled something about them not appreciating all the opportunities they have and made some comparison to my childhood. Certainly not one of my finer moments.
The rant was short but I knew I needed a “mommy time out” so I retreated to my project room.
I decided to finish up a project I started sewing earlier in the day to take my mind off what had just happened. It was a tank top that needed it's straps to be shortened (my first attempt at altering clothing). In haste I ran the strap through the machine. The result was not pretty. I took it out and saw that the stitch was uneven and crooked. UGH! This was going to take some time to fix. As I sat there frustrated, I undid the stitch. God took advantage of me sitting still to teach me a lesson. He showed me that it took just a ½ a second to make the mistake I did and that it was going to take even more time and effort to undo the damage I had done and repair it. I was pretty sure he was not just referring to my shirt. OUCH!
Okay, so now what? First things first, I need to ask God to forgive me.
In John 1:9 it says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” So I stop what I was doing and said a simple prayer.
“Lord, please forgive me for not exercising the patience and self-control you have given me. I am sorry for comparing my childhood with that of my children’s and allowing any past hurts to skew my perspective on the daily challenges I face with my kids. Please come into those areas and provide insight and wholeness."
Next, I have to ask my kids to forgive me.
It’s difficult to do this because ultimately I want to say “if you didn’t do this…I would not have done that…”. It feels better than admitting I am wrong. In Matthew 5:23-24 (The Message translation) Jesus says: "This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
God has a heart for reconciliation. It is a vital part of walking out this process.
So that is exactly what I did. I gathered all the kids together and apologized for getting so upset. I let them know that not disobeying me and complaining was wrong but so was losing my temper. I asked them to please forgive me. This was so helpful for all of us; it helped undo the messy and crooked “stitch” I had made. I modeled what it means to be humble. I let them know I loved them no matter what. It was also a great opportunity for them to practice forgiveness by forgiving me.
I was so grateful that the kids were so quick to forgive. Hugs, kisses and professions of love followed. Instead of levels of frustration snowballing out of control we were able to move on and enjoy the rest of our day together.
Now that’s pretty sweet.