Apr 5, 2008

Still Learning

4/05/2008 — cori

I was taught an invaluable lesson by my children tonight. Humility. I was humbled by the wisdom God gave them and they shared with me. I was humbled by the love, forgiveness and acceptance they showed me anyways. I was humbled to see the ugly condition of my heart. Let me explain:

Today was almost a perfect day. It was my daughter's fourth birthday. As is tradition, we spent a majority of the day at the Arboretum. We came home to a wonderful, family celebration of opening presents and eating cake. We dressed up for dinner and even got to dance with one another after dinner, per Chloe's request. Could it have been any better? No.

And then came bed time. It all seemed to come about so fast. All of the sudden we were herding them up to their beds, making them clean up their rooms as well as finish their dinner chores. Chloe was having none of that and she put her foot down hard. She ended up throwing quite a royal temper tantrum. I kept my cool during the first one. But by the second one and her refusal to apologize, I lost it. I couldn't handle a perfect day ending up so horribly. I left my poor but patient husband to clean up the mess. I had to go fume.

And boy, did I feel justified...just look at what effort we went through to make this an extraordinary day for our baby, not to mention the hours of pain staking labor I put into making a special cake for her from Family Fun magazine. I just couldn't believe she would be so selfish as to let this wonderful day come to such a demise. That is, until Chuck came to talk to me.

He told me how I needed to separate her yucky choice from the sweet, little girl she is. How I can still be saddened by her response to the close of the day without being mad at her and thinking of her as selfish. He told me I was throwing as big a tantrum as her by letting her actions affect me so. He told me not to throw my expectations of how I think she should be on her and love her for how and who she is right now. Ouch. Lastly, he explained his theory as to why he thinks she acted out the way she did. He thinks she was sad to see such a fun day come to an end so abruptly. So she dug her heels in and fought it tooth and nail. Why didn't I see it? She was just sad.

I'd eaten enough humble pie and knew it was time to go upstairs and say goodnight to the children. I went to see the boys first. Gavin sat straight up and said, "Mom, I think I know why people argue. It's because they don't take the time to see each other's point of view. If we would just try to look at the other person's point of view, we might never have an argument." How much worse could it get? Did I really need to hear this from him right now? Evidently that and more so. "And another thing Mom, I've noticed that at the end of really fun days, you get really snappy. I think its just because of how hard you worked and you're just real tired." Then I chose to finish his sentence for him because I knew I had to...."but that doesn't excuse it. I can't let my circumstances control my actions. I'm so sorry guys. I hate being a snappy mommy." Of course they lavished forgiveness on me.

Then Gavin pretty much told me the same thing Chuck did as to why he thinks Chloe was so upset at bedtime. My heart ached so bad for how my selfishness had hurt the people I loved most, all because I didn't take the time to look through their eyes at the situation. The easy way is to lord your authority over a small child. It's much harder to act graciously yet firmly setting boundaries. Another ouch. I was too choked up to say another word. Then Bennett had to go and give me his two cents.

He advised me about how he handles frustration at the end of his day. He says, "Mom, when I'm frustrated at the end of the day I just take a deep breath and let it all out. That's all." It really is that simple, isn't it? And it took these precious souls to sear it deep into my heart.

I ran to Chloe's room, woke her up and apologized from the bottom of my heart for not really listening to her, for not taking the time to just sit and reminisce over the most wonderful day of her four little years, for being insistent on my way. Confession is good for the soul. We cuddled a long time after that, my heart breaking the whole time for the baby who is now a little girl.

Turns out I was the selfish, stubborn, non-listening one who ruined the eve of this most wonderful day. Who knew?

Another day...another lesson learned, the hard way. Thank God for grace!

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