I wanted a do-over. I wanted to wake up all over again and respond to everything differently.
I wished, instead of engaging in the difficult conversation with my husband at 7:10 am (with only five minutes left to pack lunches, get dressed and usher three kids to the car), I would have lovingly responded, “Let’s pray about this and then talk again tonight.” But I didn’t.
I wished I would have detached myself from the frustration of that conversation and, instead, released my children from the car with a genuine smile and a warm embrace. But I didn’t.
I wished, I would have gently corrected Elliana for her misbehavior at dance class, instead of the clenched-teeth-firm-grip approached I used in front of all the other parents. But I didn’t.
I wished I would have disciplined Elijah calmly when he refused to review his spelling words and learn his multiplication tables, instead of screaming and flailing and throwing a temper tantrum (that was me, not him). But I didn’t.
I wished I would have resisted the urge to bark and scowl at every human being with whom I made eye-contact that day. But I didn’t.
It was a really, really bad day that only got worse at the hours droned on. I wanted to go back and untangle each of those situations, before the stress and emotion of first snowballed into the next, and then the next and the next. And yes, I know I just mixed my metaphores, but you get the idea. I wanted to handle myself with dignity and wisdom, not a bundle of tension and fragile emotions.
But, like I said, I didn’t.
It took me way too long, but I did eventually cry out to God for help. Of course, it was after I made everyone else in my house cry, too. Instead of participating in the typical light-hearted banter at our dinner table, I led the family in an emotional crying crescendo. My shining parenting moment, it was. And then, I hastily excused myself to my bedroom and gave myself a big old-fashioned Mommy Time-Out, where I grabbed the box of tissues, dropped to my knees and opened the Word of God.
It’s hard enough for me to screw up in the privacy of my own brain. But it is especially hard for me to screw up in front of my kids. I want so badly to be a glowing example of balance and godliness. Keenly aware of my God-given responsibility to train them to love and serve Jesus, there’s a huge part of me that never wants them to see me struggle and fail. I don’t want to sear into their memories a Mom who clenches her teeth at dance class or flails during homework or sobs at the dinner table. And I certainly don’t want to damage their tender spirits in the process.
But the reality is, I’m messy and imperfect. And while it may sound like a better plan—to only allow my kids to see the balanced and godly side of me—is that really in their best interest? I mean, how in the world can they—or anyone—indentify with perfection?
As I sat on the edge of each of their beds that night, I humbled my prideful-mommy-self and sincerely apologized for every word and ugly tone that proceeded from my mouth that day. And then I confessed to them that I am a weak and flawed human being who desperately needs my Savior–apart from God, I can do nothing.
In retrospect, maybe it’s a good thing for my kids see the struggle, the occasional fall and failure. Not just for the sake of the struggle, but also so they can see the Refuge. The Power. The Solution.
If they don’t see their Momma with an urgency to run to the Word and lean on the power of God, how will they ever learn to run to the Word and lean on the power of God in THEIR urgent moments? How will they ever learn to run to God with THEIR days-gone-haywire, if the the adults in their lives never demonstrate the act of running?
It’s one thing to point my children to the foot of the cross. It’s another thing entirely to LEAD them there. At the end of the day, I want to be a mother who leads, not points. I hope that alongside the seared memories of Mommy losing her cool, there is also the memory of a Mom who excused herself from the dinner table and found her strength in arms of Christ.