Sometimes when I sit down at the end of the day, there are moments that play back in my head from my day with the children. I hear Hugh’s giggles when I hid behind his chair and see Norah’s hokey spontaneous dancing in the aisle of the grocery store. I can feel the warm pudge of Harriet’s cheeks when she gave me a crusher hug. Often sweet moments come to mind, as when the girls announced a Sister Club picnic in their bedroom and spread out pillows, blankets, and a feast of wooden food and lukewarm water stolen from the bathroom tap when they thought I wasn’t looking. Or when Hugh suddenly dropped a truck and waddled out the front door because he saw Daddy coming.
But sometimes I feel the piercing pain on the back of my ankle when one of my children ran a shopping cart into it. I hear a little voice calling, “Moooooooo-mmy! I peed on my piiiiiii-llow!” twenty minutes after I finished putting clean sheets on the bed. I feel again the boiling frustration when we settled in to build a Lego house together during what ought to have been a quiet moment after lunch–and a ferocious fight erupted amongst the Sister Club, who began to bludgeon one another about the heads with their forearms. Worst of all, I hear myself shouting.
I could tell you how provoked I was. How they kept on fighting and disobeying and generally behaving like the excellent little samples of fallen humanity that they are. How two minutes after I finally separated everybody after a very frustrating time of it one of them released her bladder on a pile of clean bedding. While I dealt with this, she threw a plastic truck at her baby brother’s skull. Trust me, today, the Children Were in the Wrong. They were Naughty, they were Cross, and they were Stinkers.
I could tell you how very much I have to do. How behind I am in everything, how tired I am, and, for frosting on the cupcake of hardships, I am pregnant. (Thus we take our greatest blessings and add them to our kvetch list when we’re having a pity party.)
It doesn’t matter. Behind the smoke screen of Mommy Martyrdom lies the truth: the children aren’t the only excellent little samples of fallen humanity in this story. I didn’t get what I wanted so I pitched a fit. What did I want? Ease, I think. And peace and quiet. You might say I wanted the restful fruits of righteousness. I really do want my children to be righteous. Right now.
So I yell at them to get righteous right now.
I have not found this approach effective, fellow mommies.
Here’s why: “A harvest of righteousness in sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18). Righteous plants won’t grow from angry seeds. The preceding verse fills out the picture a little more: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
These are two of the most helpful verses for Being Mommy. And they blow through my mind like a breath of fresh air when I
fall sit down at the end of days like this one. They remind me that I’m not alone in this, that my heavenly Father has not left me to my own devices. (Can we ever praise him enough for that?) There is a place to repent my worldly “wisdom,” a place to find the light I need to move ahead. There is restoration, there is a beautiful day loaded with grace dawning tomorrow. With that grace tomorrow we take these words and plant peaceful seeds. With that grace God grants the harvest.