I lost it. I lost my cool. I lost my cool with my daughter. I lost my cool and I yelled, LOUDLY. And it scared us both.
I'm an imperfect mother and I lost my cool with our three-year old little girl. I yelled at her, sent her to her room, and immediately felt a rush of guilt wash over me. I promptly went to her, scooped her up in my arms, and told her I loved her. I told her I was sorry for yelling for scaring her. I told her how her disobedience and back talk were unacceptable and made me sad and angry. I told her that my actions were also unacceptable and I shouldn't have yelled. We shared a long hug, a small prayer for patience and love for us both, a sloppy tear-soaked smooch, and carried on with the morning.
A little while later while I was continuing to de-stress in the shower, the curtain suddenly pulled back and my sweet girl was standing there looking up at me.
Mommy, I said a prayer for you to be a good mommy. Because you weren't nice to me so I said a prayer that you would be a good mommy.
Queue heart-break. It was all I could do not to collapse into the fetal position in the middle of the tub. Along with the heartbreak came a whirlwind of emotions. Initially I felt another wave of guilt rush over me, heating me more so than the actual water I was standing under. Then I felt embarrassed, ashamed, and incompetent. At some point anger crept in too. Anger that the whole situation started because she was disobedient and yet now I'm the one that needed prayer. Why doesn't she pray that she is a good daughter? How about that? How about not driving me up the wall that led me to yelling in the first place?
WHAT? Seriously, WHAT?? Was I blaming my three-year old for my hasty and inappropriate behavior? Was I trying to turn the need for prayer away from myself and onto her?
I swatted the devil off my shoulder and reminded myself of one of the wonderful prayers from "The Original" Mother's Manual that I try to read in the morning before starting my day.
Dear God, in giving me the great gift of motherhood, You have also conferred on me the sacred and weighty responsibility of patterning my child according to the model of Your Divine Son. May I not shirk my duty of correction, and may I fulfill this duty according to Your holy will. May I realize that in administering correction I am taking Your place, speaking for You; and may my corrections be such as to be worthy of this trust. May I never correct of punish a child of mine while I am angry but learn to correct in a calm, motherly manner and to administer punishment with a gentle firmness born of tender mother love rather than with any excitement of passion. May I learn to pray to You for light before I give correction or punishment - for light to guide me so that such acts of mine may be according to Your holy will and in each case bring my child closer to me and both the child and myself closer to you.
I took a deep breath and called out to my sweet child. She poked her head back around the shower curtain (talk about vulnerability) and I told her how grateful I was that she took the time to pray for me and reminded her that we all need a little extra payer sometimes, especially mommy. I asked that she continue to pray for me but also ask God to help her learn obedience and kindness as she grows. And to pray that we all act with loving hearts.
That's all I needed. Okay mommy, said with an innocent little smile. I took a deep breath and my feelings of guilt and frustration washed away. In that moment I wasn't ashamed, but proud. I was proud of my sweet little girl. Proud of her for, at just three years old, turning to prayer when we both needed it. Proud of myself for instilling in her the importance of leaning on the Lord in prayer. I didn't realize it had taken hold in until that moment. I was also proud of myself for not sinking further into my slump but remembering what my true purpose as a mother is. To raise my children to be the best versions of themselves and to glorify God.
As parents, we mess up sometimes. A lot actually. We make dumb, passion of the moment, brainless mistakes. And it feels awful. Like curl up in a ball on the floor of the shower and ugly-cry awful. But, in the midst of all the slip-ups, we should never forget that God gifted us with these tiny souls to care for during their time on this earth. It is only with His love and compassion that we will succeed and if we aspire to give them the same type of sacrificial love He bestows upon us, we're all going to be alright. We may not be alright all the time, but we should never lose faith in ourselves. Never lose faith in our children. Never hesitate to say, "Yes, sweet child. Pray for me."
Until next time...