She bursts through the garage door, throwing her bookbag in the hall whining,
“My sister is stupid. And you never do anything for me.”
The “s” word makes my insides recoil. My inner peace shatters in an instant, like glass crashing on the tile floor.
What set her off this time? Oh, it’s the mini chocolate egg I bought her sister at the store today.
“Ok, honey, calm down. We love all you girls so much.” I halfheartedly interject.
My husband isn’t home this week; my shoulders droop with fatigue.
Then, her tantrum escalates and so does my heart rate. I close my eyes and try to slow my breathing.
“Im going to hit her. She is so dumb.” She wails as she flails herself around the house grunting and moaning. My jaw clenches and my cheek muscles pulse.
Now, it’s 4:30pm. The tantrum is holding steady. This is the third day in a row she came home in a foul mood. My resolve unravels. Strands of it slip through my squeezed fists and moist palms. I cant hold on.
I breathe out a sharp sigh.
“Go to your room!” Rolls out like thunder from my gut. Monster-Mom voice in full effect.
“Nooooooo! You are stupid , dumb and you don’t care about me!”
Our tempers collide. Her’s mirrors mine.
My hair whips behind me as I whirl around to chase her. I trample my mom-confidence with each pound up the stairs. I’m electrocuted with rage. Or is it fear?
My face twists as my brows furrow. My mouth opens like a shark devouring its prey. A roar launches from my gut hoping to intimidate and corale her to her room.
One of us slams the door, shutting her in.
My emotional tidal wave crashes on her door and silently recedes. I exhale slowly as guilt slinks in.
I just want her out of the environment so me and the other kids can have a little evening peace. I limp down the stairs, hands still shaking. Any good memories of the day were sucked out with the tide. If I can’t see her, then maybe, I can forget what I just did.
I cradle my forehead across my thumb and forefinger. I attempt to rub out the memory of what just happened. My neck muscles twist and stiffen, like ropes tethering a rocking boat to the mooring.
I thought you would make me, Lord.
My arms once flexed to fight against my sin, hang limp by my sides now.
How come I keep repeating this cycle?
Many days I pray and cry and try. I devour the mom blogs. So much for being the peacemaker and running my home with grace. My greatest fear, the possibility of ruining my kids, is as close as it ever was.
I remind myself to start a therapy fund.
My humanness glares at me. Taunting me. “You will never change.”
In the following days, I begin isolating myself from friends.
I flip the bird to housework.
I wail out to God in defeat one last time.
What if I never change?
“llI still love you,” a voice echos within.
His reaction to us is not a monster-God voice. His instinct is to hold us. His hush quiets us like the slow stilling of a frantic baby thrashing in the arms of her mom.
(Maybe I should have tried this with my girl. I’ll remember for next time.)
He challenges me, “Love yourself. Right here. Right now. Just as you are.”
I marinate here for a few weeks.
I’m not agreeing with the devil in the lie “you will never change”. And I’m not saying fits of rage are ok.
I am honestly asking myself if I love like God loves. Or is my love toward myself conditional?
I strip off my potential and my best intentions toward change. I stand gazing at the rawness of my imperfections. I steady myself in this place to test my love. I must look at myself like this and love myself like this.
If I want to love my people and my neighbors as I love myself, I have to go here. (Mark 12:30-31)
If grace is free and we are not loved based on our works; then we are not unloved based on our works either.
(Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 8:39)
Love is a Choice
I need practice.
Fortunately for me, my relationship with our kids gives me lots of chances to practice loving myself as God loves me.
Some days, I feel that familiar heat rising to my face and my left cheek twitching in response to my kids being kids.
At times, I swallow the anger. I navigate those gnarly situations with soft responses. I kneel down eye level with the girls and absorb their frustrations. That’s the easy-to-love me. The good mom.
Other times, thunderstorms bellow within me and downpour on my kids.
In those moments I have a choice.
Do I cross my arms and turn my back on myself, shunning myself for my bad behavior? Or do I embrace that girl?
Yes, I throw her trembling arm over my shoulder. I wrap my arm around her waist and carry her on.
If I want to love others the way that God does, then I have to start here, with myself. If I want to love my kid better, then I have to learn how to love myself, even when I don’t like what I see.
Do you see things about yourself that you do not like? Are there behaviors that make you cringe?
Could you love yourself even if this never changed about you?
Let’s stop beating ourselves up.
Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Leave the changing part up to God.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1