Do you ever put yourself in a time out?
For me, it looks a little bit like putting the small, screaming people on one side of a door and putting myself on the other side. Sometimes, I do this in the morning. Some days, it is nearer to bedtime. Occasionally, there is candy on my side of the door. Other times, there is cheese. That’s fine. The when and the with what are adjustable features of the timeout. The door in between seems to be the key component.
This morning wasn’t one of those mornings where everything went wrong. I had my big cup of coffee – still hot. The girls had woken up happy and eaten breakfast without spreading it through multiple rooms. I’d read a whole chapter of the Bible out loud and discussed it with Ever. Joy started doing a new sound – guh, guh, guh, guh. She had pottied like a big girl several times with no accidents.🙌🏻 All the makings for a great day.
But, less than an hour later…
You see, I have a two-year-old. I mean, there’s not much more to say. Two-year-olds are impossibly precious. Their voices are so squeaky and cute and they can’t say words right and they love you so so much. And you just want to kiss them and squeeze them all day long.
But, oh the screaming. Or rather, THE SCCRREEEAMMMMING!
It really gets to me.
I know I’m the mom. I’m the adult. I shouldn’t let it hijack my day. But, instead of nipping it or ignoring it or leading us out of it, when the screaming starts, I sometimes find myself behaving just like she is. Pouting. Sighing. Whining. Shutting the door and cracking open the Hot Tamales.
What is wrong with me?
“Mahhhhm, Joy is signing potttyyyyyyy,” my big one said from the other side of the door.
So, I opened the door to the non-screamers, put on a smile and helped Joy with her pull-up while Dewy continued to thrash and wail. Why? Because she didn’t like any of the dresses I wanted to put on her.
So, Joy pottied and we celebrated and sweet Ever tried to reason with Dewy through song. Literally, she was opera singing over the screams, “🎶 Dewy, if you could just stop screaming, Mommy would take us to the pool and we could have a happy dayyyyy, oh dayyyy.🎶”
I looked at the clock on my phone and it was barely 9AM and already, I’d huffed, puffed, put myself in time out, and barked at my smooshy little blonde.
I finally got them dressed. And got them out the door. And got them in the car. And looked at the clock again. 9:24AM.
And I thought, I’ve already failed. I’ve already been selfish and immature and weak and angry and impatient. I’ve failed the day. I hate the person the neighbors probably heard through the walls just now.
And I peeked at my three treasures in the rearview, and realized I had a choice to make. I could huff and puff my way through the rest of the day. Angry at myself for failing. Angry at my 2-year-old for flailing. Angry at the world for being messed up. OR. I could live what I believe.
I find myself at this crossroads often.
Am I going to live what I believe? Or am I going to be selfish?
Am I going to live what I believe? Or give into fear?
Am I going to live what I believe? Or put my wants above my family’s needs?
So, what do I believe?
John 15:12 -“…love one another as I have loved you.”
Jesus loves me, this I know. Me. Throwing my tantrums, pouting, and hiding. Jesus loves me. He loves selflessly, fearlesslessly and sacrificially. And He wants me to love the ones He’s given me even though they pout and whine and SCREEEAAMMM.
Jesus loves me. And as I rounded the corner of our neighborhood, God flooded me with grace as He does every day.
I am loved and I can love.
So, I apologized to each of my children for being mean. And I told them that it’s too hard to live perfectly. That I can’t do it. And that’s why I need Jesus. Because feelings bubble over and things go wrong and life is painful and oftentimes, the way I react is so the opposite of who I want to be.
But, God looks at me and says, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
He says that to my heart like Paul said it to the Corinthians. Like I can say to my children. And like Ever, my 6-year-old baby Christian says back to me with her forgiveness and readiness to flip the switch and be silly even though Mommy has been anything but all morning.
And my two-year-old, the big offender, tells me she loves me. And I get her out of her carseat and she nuzzles her little cheek into my neck. And I walk around to the other side for Joy, and she puts her treasured 29 cent plastic necklace around my neck and signs that I’m so beautiful. My children still love me even though I fail. And so does God.
Then, we cross the street holding hands, four wide, broken little girls who are learning to give grace to each other because our perfect, always loving, never hiding, selfless Jesus has endless grace for us.
To the mom behind the door today, grace and peace to you, too.