The baby fussed, knawing on his tiny fist and kicking his legs in frustration. My toddler with the double ear infection was chasing his sister, who had something he wanted, and he didn’t mind hitting to get it. I sliced chicken faster, tossing it into the pan of smoking oil and splattering my arm and face with scalding grease. Ow. The howls from the high chair now matched the yelling from the toy dispute.
My husband, who had left in the wee hours this morning, was returning shortly for dinner before going back to finish his crazy work day. Pressure, pressure, pressure.
I snapped. I fussed at the kids, pointed my finger, raised my voice and YELLED. Threw a mama tantrum.
Oh, it wasn’t pretty. I even knew it wasn’t pretty, but I kept right on spewing. My girl’s face saddened. My toddler boy burst into tears. The baby (now in my arms) added an occasional wail. My husband walked in the door and I threw him a glare and spat out, “I’m DONE!”
The baby nursed and went down for a nap, dinner made it to the table, and the coveted toy was forgotten. But the guilt throbbed like the burns, and I still felt irritable. Apologizing did little to eradicate the heavy sense of failure that weighed me down. And then I did it.
Jesus, turn this night around. Help me. Oh, help me.
I loaded the dishwasher, wiped crumbs, soothed the fussy baby (whose 10 minute nap didn’t help his case of the crankies), and blinked back tears of tiredness and frustration and shame.
Her voice interrupted my pensive misery. “After you finish the kitchen, will you play with us?” I looked down at the face of my precious little girl, seeing the beauty of simple forgiveness in her clear eyes.
“Yes, honey.” I glanced furtively at the spilled rice under the table. Oh well. It’s not going anywhere!
They were perched on the couch watching reruns of the Wild Kratts when I came in to the living room. “Hey guys! Let’s build a blanket fort!”
They grinned. They giggled. We piled pillows and dragged furniture and spread the old comforter like a circus tent. We had a picnic with yogurt cups in the tent, and their eyes met mine, and the yogurt drips all over the blanket just didn’t matter.
All the while, I marveled at the grace.
The grace of God to turn my evening around. The grace of my kids to forgive their mama her craziness.
Oh, tired mamas…it’s hard, this parenting work. Let’s not forget that when we fall apart, He still loves us. When we sin, we have a place to go: the cross. Because, though we are pressed, we are not crushed, and His mercies are new every morning, and great is His faithfulness.
Let’s drink deeply of His grace, and then let’s pour it out all over our families, and friends, and neighbors, and…let’s unleash grace like a tsunami.
Oh, and you might want to build a blanket fort, too. Yogurt stains optional.
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