It was a rough morning today. We had a bug incident in the car. For any of you who don’t happen to travel with four little girls, bug incidents can be big incidents.
There’s drama. Lots of drama.
I would go into the whole story, but it didn’t end well. Magoo got out of the car in tears. I’ve never had a child get out of the car in tears. I have a rule that I never break. I make sure that even if we have an awful time getting out of the house, our car ride to school is peaceful. We say “I love you”. We say “I’m sorry” if necessary. And we always, always end on a good note. I call it my Sandy Hook rule.
We did said the “I love you” today, but it wasn’t enough. It didn’t outweigh the drama.
And I felt awful.
I have a guiding principle for myself – always keep the respect. I can have my rules. I can enforce them. I can expect things of them that they may not want to do. But I treat them with respect.
Yes I break this rule at times, but I always come back. About the only thing I know about raising tweens or teens is that some way or another, I need to keep the relationship with them strong. Even through the boundary pushing and the hormonal flares and the inevitable disagreements, I need to keep that relationship strong. They need a shelter from the storms. They will find that shelter somewhere. I need to make sure it is with me.
So I had all of this and the guilt weighing on my mind as I left the drop off lane today. I decided to drown my sorrows in a latte before I had to drop Mae off at preschool.
So I sat in the ridiculously long line berating myself ceaselessly. And then I got up to pay, and I found out that the person in front of me had paid for my order.
I was shocked. How could this possibly happen to me today? In what world do I possibly deserve this?
And it seemed so out of order that it felt like it had to be a message from God. I shot up a quick prayer. “God, what do you want me to learn from this?”
And the only answer I could come up with was mercy. Reckless, free flowing, abundant mercy.
I had already forgiven Magoo. I had forgiven her before she got out of the car. I already had plans to catch her on her way out of Mass and apologize and try to make amends. My feelings towards her were of love.
It was to myself that I needed to extend the mercy.
And it’s hard. It’s an hour later, and I’m still feeling upset and guilty. But when my children express remorse to me (and even when they don’t) my forgiveness is immediate. I’m quick to ask their forgiveness if I do something wrong. They freely give it.
Mercy and forgiveness are flowing so freely in our home. Until it gets to me – that’s when it gets stuck inside and won’t budge.
I don’t really know how to grant myself the mercy. All I know is that Magoo did and God did, and I’m the only one left stalling the train.
But I also know it’s important that I do – if for no other reason than because I want my girls to learn to show mercy towards themselves.
Again I’m reminded that maybe the hardest relationship in this parenting gig is that from ourselves toward ourselves. And yet it’s so important because it is the model our kids use to determine how they should treat ourselves.
I wish it were something easier.
But as I walked up to give Magoo a hug, she got a huge smile on her face. She gave me a hug and I think she felt at peace. That’s what I needed to know.
Today I will pray for mercy. That we are all able to show it more frequently to others and to ourselves. That we learn to wrap ourselves in the mercy of God and feel the weight of it and the presence of it so strongly that we can’t help but show it to others and to ourselves as well.
Will you pray with me?