Thursday, July 26, 2007

Grace For The Failings


No matter how many fun, carefree moments you have with your children, the time you lost your temper and screamed like a crazy person is the one that lingers like the scent of rotting meat. Gazing back at you, eyes full of sadness, the child you so desperately love can crush you with a single look. After the anger and frustration pass, you'll play checkers with them, read them a book, apologize and tell them you love them, but you won't forget the failure--the inadequacy and impatience that bested you.


Rushing in and out of the laundromat, thanks to a broken washing machine, my little boys chirped and cackled excitedly, going from washer to washer transfixed by the spinning clothes. Their curious queries about the mechanics, the timer, the compartments for soap had the earnest interest that only a child could have about a washing machine. We washed, dried and folded every towel, sheet, and blanket we owned, loading up the Corolla with the crisp mountain scent of freshly laundered linens.

Later in the day we headed to Wal-mart. The Rationalist was grumpy and argumentative, oozing sourness like so many lemonheads. I snapped at him several times while maneuvering the cart with the rhythmic wheel that pulled to the left. "Will you stop with the rudeness?!" I said. "I have had enough of your grumpiness!" I said. "That's it...No talking for five minutes from you!" I said. I was the official crazy-mom-in-Wal-Mart. There always has to be at least one and my time had come.

Arriving home in irritation, I unloaded the groceries and sent the boys to play while I threw together a hasty dinner. I gritted my teeth and made myself ignore the bickering between the them as they played checkers with a set that was missing a piece, leading to all sorts of recriminations about who really lost the essential item.

Dinner seemed to settle The Rationalist's spirits. He talked about his Jimmy Neutron computer game in between bites of roast beef and grapes. He pondered the list of school items we needed to get for his second grade class. He was pleasant. So was I.

After dinner, we combined a cake mix and licked the beaters, making plans for icing it later. The boys ran around the room, kicking the air like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. The tension left me. They bathed themselves, a new accomplishment, and came out ready to ice and eat the finished cake. They set to work, feverishly and meticulously frosting the individual pieces I had set before them, gobbling up each morsel when they were done.

"Mom, I don't feel good," said The Rationalist. "I feel like I'm going to throw up!"

The Rationalist hates throwing up.

He began to tremble and whimper. We went into the bathroom, seated ourselves before the toilet, and waited for the inevitable to happen.

"I'm scared," he said.

"It's OK, honey. You'll feel better afterward. "

"Will you pray for me?" he asked.

Of course I would...and did. At least three times he asked me to pray for him, the last time specifically that he wouldn't throw up. I complied each time, hoping that God was listening to these bathroom prayers for not throwing up.

After fifteen minutes, we moved to the couch in the living room, trash basket handy just in case. Intuitive Monkey had been sent to bed earlier when it had become apparent that I might be up all night with The Rationalist. The Rationalist and I lay on the couch in the dim lighting of the TV. I rubbed his back and he rested. Another fifteen minutes passed.

"How are you feeling?" I asked.

"Better...I think I'm OK now. I guess I'll go to bed."

I tucked him in, telling him to get me if he needed me, and closed the door.

Thank you, God.....for listening to no-throwing-up prayers for a seven year old boy.

Thanks too....that you cover over my failings as a parent, allowing my child to trust me to pray for him, forgetting the frustration I aimed his way earlier.


Delta said...

Awesome and transparent in a good way. The frustrations we as parents deal with are a challenge. Guilt is a constant struggle at times, isn't it? Then, when you get that hug and give that hug, and know you will always love one another, no matter what words are exchanged. G-d's grace is Wonderful - especially when He shares it with us!

terri said...


I think God makes us parent sto show us how much more we need that grace, and how much he loves us as his children.