I have often thought that marriage is the laboratory where the sufficiency of God is put to the test; it is no less true for mothering. I can either cooperate with this grace, or I can resist it and spit at the dumb-founding significance of the beautiful bloody cross. All this truth rattled me today and I stood at a crossroads, yet again.
You see I raised my voice at my oldest son this morning. That sounds too sanitary. Surely you mothers will see right through that! I screamed. Long and loud. It was out of frustration with our dear oldest son whom, instead of getting ready for class that started five minutes ago and which was a twenty-minute drive away, was pestering his younger brother in the mudroom, oblivious yet again to all time and space. It had been a long week with our beloved ten-year old. Last week I had found he and his brother on a nearby roof playing cards during recess! He claimed that he was pondering how air changed at different heights and wanted to see for himself. It took 45 minutes to get our 5-year old down without injury. Earlier that day he had scaled down the side of the house to practice a fire escape out the window. With his brother again. A low window, but still ( confession: I put my own mother through many similiar antics). When asked to finish his math yesterday and do nothing else, I found him trying to roast an apple over a scented candle I had placed on the table. Distractibility and inattention are typical among boys this age, but it seems that my boy can really dwell in this land of la-la. In case you think we let him thrive in this excessive creativity, no worries. We are firm in our belief that now is the time to discipline and train. Must we all learn law before grace? Truly, “folly is bound up in the heart of a child.”
With a diarrhea baby girl and another boy with a hacking cough and being weary myself from a night of long dreams, I simply was in no mood this morning to have to give minute-by-minute reminders to a fourth-grader. I stuck arrows in my own child and he climbed into the mini-van rightfully convicted but wrongfully condemned. Last evening he’d been excited about his oral presentation on crustaceans he was to give today. Now it seemed like he wanted to molt himself and scamper away, suddenly made new. I drove off feeling rather tough and crusted over myself. It was as things were, but not how they are meant to stay.
Fast forward to later this afternoon, classes done, younger ones down for a nap and he and I alone on the couch. All morning I had been in the posture of communication with the Spirit, this One I had not treated so well by both grieving and quenching the transforming power at work within me. I confessed that indeed I had spewed forth garbage and I allowed the forgiveness to wash over me. Our God is One who can make all things new and can reclaim with beauty and force any ground we give away. The negativity we speak against ourselves only slows this process. I am learning to make it a practice not to go there. I want to operate out of the humility that acknowledges that I fail, but in my failures are places for redemption to fall out like ribbons of life-lines to those around me. I cannot extend the grace if I don’t receive the grace.
And so we talked. Not too long, but directly to the heart of things. We mutually confessed as proper, he spoke of his heart and let me look through his eyes to where he is now as this boy-getting-ready-to emerge-as-a-man stage. I offered words of assurance and hope. We reflected on the fact that who we are is not in what we have or in what we do; true identity is in who He sees us to be. Oh, we His children ought to hold our heads high, I told him, for all the benefits we have in all He is!
We recalled what he and Benjamin had read just last week about when we fail, to never lie down and quit but to restore, reconcile, rebuild and get up! He smiled and sat back, basking in the goodness of my now gentle and true words. I know the bridge to his childhood will, in not so many years, give way and he’ll feel rather hollow inside for awhile until he finds his new bearings. It is the way with all of us.
He wrapped his strong and stringy arms around my neck and hugged me while we prayed. My boy-child for now. And me, his mother. We are both ever-molting. It is all grace.
By the way, the chapters in my book I go back to the most (we write to remind ourselves lest we forget the revealed truth) are chapters 11 & 18 (Practicing Simplicity: One True Word and The Space between Us: Guilt Crucified).
“Rejoice not against me, O my enemy: When I fall, I shall arise [emerge]…” – Micah 7:8