We had an incident today.
Let me break it down for you…
Here was our morning:
After the boys’ speech therapy session, we ate some sandwiches in the car and drove straight to ShopRite for a marathon shopping trip. I needed both staple items (paper towels, canned goods, diapers, etc.) and food for vacation the following day. I found a whale-sized 3-seater cart that would accommodate my 100 pounds worth of children and after an hour of shopping, it was piled high with groceries. By the time we reached the checkout, a pack of 12 paper towel rolls was balanced precariously on the girl’s head because it didn’t fit anywhere else. (Helpful hint: when coupons print for “a valuable customer,” you have clearly bought too much.)
Then we got home:
We were all tired, so baby girl went straight to bed. But ice cream was melting, so I asked the boys to help me carry groceries inside. They agreed without much of a fuss. I was surprised and impressed. The first load made it to the kitchen successfully.
And this was the incident:
I gave J two bags because he handled the first trip so well. Mistake #1. Then I loaded up my arms with as many bags as I could carry and followed him inside. Mistake #2.
J stalled out on the stairs, dropped his bags, and plopped facedown on the carpet. Now my bag handles were cutting into my fingers, my legs were holding up two additional bags of groceries, and my child was blocking my way. I started ordering J to stand up, get his bags and get out my way. He just lay there and looked at me like a sad little bloodhound. I yelled louder and with more anger and impatience. What was this kid’s problem?! Move! How did he not see that he was causing me pain and bringing all of our efforts to a screeching halt? Move!! I yelled louder, anger bubbling up inside of me. Why did my children do this so often??
Finally, J conceded and grabbed one of his bags (an intentional rebellion) moaning and whining as he came. I furiously scooped up the final abandoned bag in my already overburdened left hand and plowed past J, knocking him on the head with a bag in the process. (A total accident, I assure you. *ahem*)
And then that annoying whisper came. (Fair warning: if you memorize scripture, it will come back to haunt you at the worst possible times. The Holy Spirit’s tricky like that.)
“Love is patient…”
Okay, I was anything BUT patient with J, but he was being disobedient and lazy and selfish and…
“Love is not self-seeking…”
Alright, I was being a little selfish too.
“Love is kind.”
“Love is not easily angered”
I think, sometimes as a parent, I tend to excuse and justify my impatience and irritability towards my kids because, well, they are making poor choices so they deserve it. Don’t they? I tell myself that my anger shows them just how disappointing and wrong their actions are…
But what about love?
If I am not acting in love (and I am clearly not in those moments), “I am nothing” and “I gain nothing.”
So, I will do two things instead.
First, I will ask my kids for forgiveness when I am impatient and unkind. I will admit to them when I am too easily angered and find myself tallying up wrongs. My mom was always so good at doing that when I was a kid, and I will never forget the life-changing impact of a parent’s humble apology. It often ended up convicting and humbling me in process.
Second, I will pray for the strength to love my three little people more fully each day. I pray not for the emotional, ooey-gooey kind of love, but for the real, difficult, active, even-when-I-don’t-feel-like-it kind of love.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13