I stand by my theory that one of the hardest parts about being a parent is adjusting to the constant ebb and flow of kids. They master one thing, then regress in another. They conquer one milestone, then change their mind on another. In my case, it always feels like just when we’ve found a good rhythm, they up and grab a different instrument altogether.
For instance, all summer, the girls have been waking up at 7:30 a.m., a time everyone in our house felt really good about. Then, suddenly last week, they decided 6:15 a.m. would be more appropriate. Even better is that they have decided it’s best to just stay in bed and yell angrily until someone comes and gets them. They started beating a drum just when we had gotten used to the soothing sounds of a string quartet.
I did not handle this change well. And as I worked to adjust, I realized that I had this innate need for the girls to know that they were inconveniencing me. I wanted them to know how terrible it was to wake up to angry screaming, and I wanted them to feel bad about it.
As it turns out, guilt trips are not a highly effective means toward change when it comes to small children. Go figure.
Anyway, it has me thinking about forgiveness, an act that is much more difficult to come by when the offending party hasn’t actually asked for it.
I err on the side of over-sensitive and easily wounded. I’ve certainly come a long way in this regard (mostly thanks to Jake’s magical prowess with reasoning), but I can still pinpoint times in my life where I had to move forward from something without an apology. Parenting included (let’s talk about how irrational I can get when inadvertently head-butted in the face or made late to something because of an ill-timed tantrum).
And, lately, it’s in each one of these moments that I’m always reminded of what God says to Jonah after Jonah is whining about how unfair it is that God showed mercy on the people of Ninevah.
“Do you do well to be angry?”
Loving kids is to understand sacrifice. Sometimes it’s just easier to be mad. But in these moments, that simple question has started whispering in above the beating drum: Do you do well to be angry?
The answer is always no (even if there is a strong justification for the anger¹).
The principle transcends parenting, really; it’s just another example of how this whole being-a-mom thing is refining me into a better person or whatever.
So here’s to burying the anger, the self-pity, and the other bummer qualities that distract us from better things. Good things. Important things. Refining things.
At least, that’s what I’ll be telling myself at 6:15 tomorrow morning.
¹ For the record, I don’t think a 6:15 a.m. wake-up call is reason to justify being angry. It’s not such a bad time to wake up; it just happens to be the most recent change that has me reeling a bit. And, It’s not my fault that I’m so tired in the morning. I blame NBC, Eastern Standard Time, and Simone Biles.