The night it happened, I never thought I would write about it. In fact, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t utter the incident aloud to anyone. My husband experienced it. I private messaged my friend because I knew she and her husband could relate. But that was it.
Time has a way of lessening the impact. I can chuckle at the incident now. Sort of.
First, let me back up a bit. Not many things get me ruffled. I remained a calm bride from the day I was engaged all the way through our honeymoon. In the career world, I hosted many highly visible publicity and sporting events without breaking a sweat. Keep organized and things always seem to come together.
Today, I organize the women’s ministry events at my church. Even when they don’t go as planned, which is every time, we roll with it. The important thing is to have God show up, and He always does! So, on a scale of one to ten in the patience department, I’d have given myself a high mark. And I think others would as well.
Then God sent us a child. About day three after our daughter came home, I realized my perspective on all the patience I had was a joke. I love the free spirit God gave that little girl, but could it line up with my schedule, my plans, my world, just a bit more?!
One time, I asked my mom how she did it. I don’t remember her ever yelling at us three kids. Actually, my mom was the one whose house stayed spotless. She made three meals a day from scratch with vegetables from the garden. She did most of the minor house repairs. All while staying patient and humble. A hard act to follow.
When I asked her about her patience level with us, she responded, “Oh, I’m so glad you don’t remember all the times I yelled at you!” Apparently, this impatience is a genetic defect.
Anyway, about a month ago, a particular day was coming to a close. Our daughter took her time, her own sweet time, putting on her pajamas, brushing her teeth, using the restroom, hugging her dad, reading the nightly devotion, turning on her music, switching on the hallway light and cracking the bedroom door ever so slightly.
The entire bedtime ritual finally reached completion, but apparently not in her mind. She asked for water. She said her room seemed too dark. She couldn’t find the right stuffed animal.
Finally, I slammed her door, yelling, “That is enough! Go to bed right now!” Not the first time I have uttered the words. But the attitude was all wrong. I let her have it. Verbally. Should have counted to five before speaking. OK, maybe 50.
Immediately, I felt convicted about my heart response. I went in to apologize for my tone of voice. And my darling daughter, my lifelong investment, replied, “It’s OK, you do it all the time. I’m used to it.”
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Whatever.
Deep in my spirit, I was crushed. The enemy quickly joined in the game, bringing to mind all the times I had lost my temper. That day. In the last week. Over the last month. Actually, about every single time I had grown impatient in my daughter’s six years on planet earth.
My husband. He proved helpful. His advice was not to worry about it because she was just being a kid. Grand.
After only a few tortured minutes, I knew I would not sleep if I left that comment hanging in the air. I walked back in to our daughter’s room and sat on her bed.
Mom (that’s me): That comment you made hurt my heart.
Our daughter: I take it back, Mom. [tears] I meant to say sometimes you yell. Not all the time. Sometimes.
Mom: I am sorry. I want to be a good mom to you.
Our daughter: You are! I take it back, Mom. I promise.
We hugged, and both cried a little. Then we moved on, because that’s what we do. Still, I won’t forget the words she said anytime soon.
This piece originally appeared at www.tracesoffaith.com