“No one’s perfect,” I think.
I’m mopping up my overspilled anger like the remnants of an erupted chocolate volcano that hit the kitchen floor.
It was the last bucking whine of “I don’t want chocolate in my milk” that did it. The culmination of about one million “I want chocolate in my milk”s ended with a sticky muddy river of it from highchair to floor.
After reasoning with my toddler, which never works well, I gave in to his adamant refusal of white milk for a chocolatey exchange. He responded to my surrender like a 2-year-old. He revolted. Little feet kicked. His whole body contorted, and the chocolate milk flew.
“I don’t want chocolate in my milk!” he screamed.
The noise of his screeching snapped any remnant of composure I had left.
Angry words splattered around like dark stains. I hit the table with a wooden spoon for emphasis. With a loud whack, the whole end of the spoon flew off.
The gasp from my three stunned girls sitting in a row sounded in unison.
“Mommy, you broke the spoon!” my middle girl breathed, a little awed but mostly shocked.
Now, in the aftermath of wiping up and cleaning off, I feel awful. With a paper towel in one hand, I stop. The baby is still crying. My oldest tiptoes away from the table, trying to be unnoticed. The other two are statues, silently watching me with anxious eyes.
Guilt and failure spot the walls of my heart. Angry outbursts, scenes from my own upbringing pull at me. I remember raised voices and harsh words that flew like piercing arrows against my tiny self. Determination to be different mocks me. Hope seeps out of me.
I don’t want to perpetuate the mistakes of my parents.
I don’t force them to finish all their food if they are too full.
I try not to turn the channel to something I want to watch in the middle of their TV show.
When clothes I’ve picked for them are pronounced ugly, I try to respect their taste.
But in some of the most important things, I mess up. I never wanted to be an angry parent. Like crouched predators waiting to spring, the very same things I’d resolved to avoid from my growing-up home sneak into mine. And I feel incapable of change.
Much of my heritage I’m grateful for, I want to pass it on. I even try to pass it on. However, an explosive temper isn’t part of that piece. There with those little round sets of eyes staring at me, I’m pretty sure, wrapped tightly in my own DNA, is an incapacity to be different.
Then, I turn my face away from the eyes, away from the past, and look directly at the truth.
I suddenly realize, in the guilty muddle of my emotions, the snake inside does not come through the gene pool alone.
It slithered from a garden and into the very nature of humankind. I recognize I am no longer captive to a long line of weaknesses and sinful behavior because Jesus died to set me free. I belong to the One who broke the chain of sin.
I will fail, but He will not. I will need forgiveness time and again, but I will remind myself each time, of the One who has forgiven me. I’m not a prisoner of the stain of sin which infused the souls of every descendent of Adam. Nor am I in captivity of sins that ran in the blood of family before me. Jesus has rescued me.
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14, NIV).
There is space even in a mommy’s life to learn and grow. I intentionally look away from what enrages me and gaze at Him.
I trust His power is sufficient to move my children from the harm of my mistakes into His forgiveness and mercy.
I pick up my hiccuping son with his dripping hair and face. Brown smears down my front. I stare at it and then look at my girls with their big eyes. They look at my clothes and then to my eyes, fearful of my response. I move through my ashes of anger to push myself between them and sit.
“I’m sorry,” I begin, and after follows love, hugs, and brown sticky kisses.
It would be ideal to be a mother controlled enough to choose to do the right thing to begin with, and by God’s grace next time I will, yet I am grateful that the past is not bound to me nor I to it.
Jesus has given me a new inheritance.