She stood on her little stool in the bathroom, pieces of her curly hair bouncing across her forehead as she brushed her teeth. She paused and looked at me with with an earnest expression that comes from a state of deep contemplation. She opened her mouth and the conversation went as follows:
Alex: Mommy, why aren’t you my friend anymore?
Me: Where in the world did you get that idea from? I’m your mom, the first friend you’ve ever known. I love you very much.
Alex: Well, because you get angry at me. Yesterday you got angry at me. You can’t get angry at daddy, me, or Lily Girl. Friends are nice to each other. You have to be nice to us.
Mommy: We all get angry sometimes honey. That doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. Sometimes mama gets frustrated because you’re not a very good listener. But I love you very much OK?
Alex: Ok mama. But don’t get angry with me today. Just be kind OK?
Me: Ok, my love. I will do my best.
So that happened this week. Sure I can view it as my dear old threenager lecturing me because she didn’t get her way about something, and to a certain extent that’s true. But that ‘yesterday’s anger’ she referred to was very real. The night before this heart-to-heart took place, I distinctly remember getting so upset that I had clenched fists and angry eyes. I was furious and had to remove myself from the room just to keep it together.
The sad part is I don’t remember what caused this intense feeling to bubble up inside me. Unfortunately I feel as though it’s happened quite a bit lately as my daughter has tested my patience and I have responded extremely poorly. It hurts my heart to know that my smart, aware, and observant little girl absorbs such negativity from her own mother.
One of my favorite artist/authors is Ruth Chou Simons of http://gracelaced.com/ . She coined the Instagram hashtag #motherhoodissanctifying, and this was certainly one of those moments.
Why do I have so little patience towards those closest to me? Why do I have so little patience for my three-year-old child?! Is something really wrong with me?!
I recently shared these thoughts with a dear friend of mine, and bared my soul about the guilt I felt. I told her that I prayed and prayed, and sincerely tried my best to be a more patient parent. I was downtrodden and discouraged because it seemed like progress was not being made at all, and I didn’t want this despicable side of me to be all my children would see. This individual is a wonderful and patient mama in my eyes, and the kind of woman and wife that I only strive to be like one day. So it certainly surprised me when she shared a few stories of having outbursts when her children were younger or losing her temper more times then she cared to admit.
During our talk she reminded me that I am seeing her now, and not the person she was then. She also reminded me that just because God doesn’t seem to answer a prayer immediately, doesn’t mean that we have been overlooked. “Patience is cultivated,” she said. “Patience is cultivated.”
“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking
nothing.”James 1:4 NKJV
These wise words from my friend preceded the conversation I had with my child by some weeks, so clearly I still have a long ways to go in the patience department! However, I am realizing more and more how important it is for me to lean on God and not my own understanding. I know I want there to be an immediate change, but sometimes there is a process to things that we don’t always want to face or admit.
I know there are going to be plenty more days where I feel like I screwed everything up as a mom, but then there’s grace.
Holy, freely-given, and gladly received grace. Grace I often forget to extend to myself, but it’s the same grace that I see my child give me, even when mama is very, very, very mad.
In the trenches? Back up against the wall? Tears streaming down your face? Take a deep breath mama bear and repeat after me: patience is cultivated!!
Patricia A. Taylor is the proud wife of an amazing godly man, and mama to two precious girls. After having her first child she realized that motherhood, like life, is a journey best shared with others! Her heart’s desire is to cultivate a down-to-earth and faith-filled space where real experiences are shared, and sincere encouragement is given. Visit www.lifeofaministermom.com and join her on this faith-filled adventure!