It was there when I woke up this morning, this contemptuous weight lodged in my chest that had me angry even before my feet had time to hit the floor.
Watch out, everyone. Mama’s awake.
Ezra bore the brunt of it. He was whiny and snively and I had not an ounce of patience to my name. I was snapping angry and stomping before the sun even had a chance to peek over the neighbor’s rooftop.
My husband tried to infuse some peace into the battlefield, but when Ezra left for school I was still fuming- cleaning random objects and sighing until there was almost no oxygen left in the house for anyone else to breathe. My day was already looking quite bleak and dreary- Myer started to whine and my eyes searched hungry for the clock.
It was only 8:00 in the morning.
I felt the mother-guilt creep in like a blanket of fog.
A painful hour and a half later, I was standing in a room at my church with a large group of women- mothers, all. The fact that so many of us had made it, had stumbled through the doors with small children hanging off of every limb, in spite of nap times and potty breaks and accidents and twisted car seat straps and dropped pacifiers, was in and of itself a miracle.
We sang. “Tune my heart to sing thy grace.” The mother-guilt tried to sing louder. Why had I been so angry at my six-year-old child this morning? Why had I woken up and felt that someone needed to pay?
A woman from my church spoke about knowing your child’s specific strengths and weaknesses, and how we need to be building our children up rather than tearing them down with our words.
The mother-guilt was screaming. It was so loud in my ears, I was sure the whole room could hear it.
By the time the morning was over, there were only two options for me:
1. go home and limp through the rest of my day, hoping it would all blow over and be forgotten by 5:00 so we could eat dinner and get the kids to bed and hope for a better outcome of tomorrow… or
2. go eat crow. Meaning- stop by Ezra’s school on the way home, unload the two littlest boys, make my way to the school office and then to Ezra’s classroom, pull him out into the hallway, get down on my knees so I could see straight into his deep clear green eyes, and tell the boy I was sorry for being a grumpy jerk to him earlier.
I debated with myself the whole way home. Myer needed to eat, Truman needed to nap. I needed to clean bathrooms during the ONLY spare moment I would have that day- and that moment would only happen IF I could manage to get Truman and Myer to nap at the same time. My whole day was at stake! My to-do list was at stake! My dirty toilets were at stake!
It was obvious what needed to be done. I made up my mind, turned into the school, and prayed that God would give me the right words to say to my child. With every step I took toward my son’s classroom, I felt chunks of burden sloughing off of me to the floor.
By the time I found the sweet boy, I was beaming.
I dropped down to his level- in front of the whole cafeteria full of kids and teachers- feeling a million eyes on my face, and I ate crow. I feasted on crow. I asked him to forgive me and apologized for my poor attitude. I told him I was proud of him and I watched gratefully as his face broke into that big goofy grin and he hugged my neck and told me he forgave me, absolutely.
As I loaded the little boys back into the car in the parking lot, I was a new woman.
Feeling forgiven has a way of doing that to a person, yes? Making them feel new, I mean.
And when we got home? No one napped. Myer hardly ate. It took me all afternoon to clean the bathrooms because I had to keep both my eyes on the boys. And we all ate hot dogs for dinner.
HOT DOGS! The horror!!!
But you know what? It was a GREAT day. Not because it was squeaky-clean and well executed… oh no no no. It was a hot mess of chaos, mostly. But my heart sang free in the midst of the tumult and I found myself truly grateful for fresh starts (always only one decision away!) and quick, toothy-grinned forgiveness.
I had no idea crow could taste so good.