“Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose, instead of serving shame.” – Mike Rusch
It was one of those mornings.
Peyton was taking too long to finish her breakfast and we were already running late to take Parker to school.
Me: “Finish up, Peyton.”
She takes a small piece of banana and smashes it all over her eyelid. What the heck is she doing? I let out a huff and grab a wet paper towel to clean her up.
It takes effort to get the piece of banana out of her grip, and when I’m successful, she throws a fit.
Me: “Come on. I have to get you dressed.”
I take her to her room and try to take off her nightgown. More whines ensue. If she had it her way, she would wear her Elsa nightgown 24/7.
She throws more of a fit when I’m able to wrestle one of her arms out of the nightgown.
Suddenly, from the other room, I hear more wailing.
Me: “What?!?!” I yell out to Parker.
He doesn’t respond but instead his wails intensify. Peyton is still fussing now that I am able to take off her nightgown. I feel the pressure bubbling up from whines coming at me from all directions.
Me: “What is it Parker?!?!”
Still no response and more wails and more pressure. I can’t handle the noise anymore.
Me, at the top of my lungs: “WHHAAAAT?!?! WHAT IS IT?!?! WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?!?! WHAT IS IT?!?!” I scream so loudly that my throat hurts.
My heart is beating out of my chest. I wonder if the bathroom window is open. If it is, the neighbors now know that I’m psychotic.
I look at Peyton and her eyes look frightened. Her lower lip quivers and she reaches for me to comfort her. My guilt is like a dagger to the heart.
Parker is standing outside Peyton’s room crying. My anger has lessened, but it’s still present.
Me: “What is the problem?” I say sternly.
Parker: “The channel changed to Bravo.”
Me: “Oh my God. You would’ve thought the world was ending. Push the button that says last on the remote.”
It doesn’t make me proud of myself to share a moment like this with all of you, but it’s reality. It’s not often, but sometimes I lose my cool. There are times when everything aligns just right to make my frustration spill out of me in the form of rage.
What is the solution? Is there one?
On the one hand, anger is a normal emotion. It can’t be healthy to suppress it when it bubbles up in me, and maybe it’s okay that my children know that I have limits that when crossed can push me over the edge.
On the other hand, I never want to make my children feel afraid of me. When I feel my temper rising, there are likely healthier ways to address the issue. If both of my children are melting down, what good does it do when I melt down too?
Where do we draw the line between self-improvement and self-acceptance?
Where do we draw the line between demanding personal growth and having grace for our inevitable shortcomings?
I don’t really have the answer.
And when I don’t have the answer, my default answer is love. So, that’s what I’m going with.
Love for myself the nine times out of ten that I keep my cool, and love for myself the one time out of ten that I don’t. Love for myself as I strive to become more of the person I want to be, and love for myself when I fall short.
Grace feels a lot like love. Grace feels like a deep, comforting exhale.
If I had grace for my children having an off morning, my anger wouldn’t have bubbled to the surface in the first place. At least anger serves the purpose of signaling to us, like an inner GPS, that we’ve navigated away from love and grace.
I hugged Parker, apologized for yelling, and explained to him that if he needs help with something that he needs to come ask me in a polite way. He hugged me back, he apologized, and we said I love you.
Thank God for love. Thank God for grace.
My family couldn’t survive without them.