It’s interesting the references and relational cues you hear about God being our heavenly father. There are many biblical references to us being called his children. It is a way of trying to explain or quantify his deep, abiding, unconditional love for us. It’s the fierce and un-ending love that a parent has for their children.
I am thankful that God’s parental skills are far beyond the limits of my human mind and heart. Of course I love Peanut unconditionally, and I already can feel the depths of my love for our unborn second child too. But I am human. I am weak. I am impatient, stubborn, vulnerable and imperfect. No matter the depths of my love, I succumb to earthly pressures and situations and allow them to affect the way I act.
I’ve been fighting off (or at least trying to fight off) some weird mix of sickness right smack dab in the middle of my craziest few weeks at work. Symptoms keep shifting slightly, and I am limited on what I can take to help get rid of whatever this is. It’s frustrating and exhausting and has left me feeling emptier than normal.
Two days ago, the lovely symptom of an almost migraine-like headache decided to join the party. All day at work I pushed through, but what I really wanted was quiet, darkness, and sleep to help me escape from the pain. I finally left to try to lay down for about an hour before picking up Peanut from school, and all I could do was lay there with work things bouncing around in my head, dancing just below the line where my skull felt like it was about to split wide open.
Giving up on a nap, I threw on my sunglasses to try to block out the sunshine and headed to pick up Peanut. She was her normal talkative self on the way home, and I tried to respond, but also kept encouraging her to whisper whatever it was she needed to say (and secretly wishing she’d just stop talking).
We got home, and she wanted to play. We set up camp in her room – her on the floor with all kinds of toys scattered about, and me curled up in the fetal position in the rocking chair. Plenty of toys that normally hold her attention – and all she wanted was for me to read book after book. I could barely keep my eyes open against the light of the one small lamp that was on, and I told her repeatedly “Mommy can’t read books right now. Pick another toy to play with.” Fail #1. She burst into tears that turned into a full out fit, and all I could do was put her in her crib, shut her door, sit in the hallway and try to block the sound out of my ears in the hopes of keeping my head from exploding.
A few (very loud) meltdowns later, Max got home and entertained her for a bit. I was back on duty for dinner time and Fail #2 came roaring in. Patience was just about out at this point, and when my sweet little Peanut let her independent/defiant side out, I lost it. I couldn’t keep repeating the same direction over and over and over again – “keep your hands out of your hair while you eat – do not put your dirty hands in your hair – hands out of your hair.” I couldn’t take the look on her face – challenging me, questioning what happens when she doesn’t follow “no”.
My human error came sweeping through – letting my headache and exhaustion overrun my attempt at patience. I snapped her up out of the high chair and declared it time for bed – no more dinner if she was going to keep acting that way. Like reasoning with an almost 2-year-old was going to work in the first place. Like dirty hands in her hair was worth snapping about.
Once again, Max came in to help, and I stepped away to cool down and let the throbbing in my head subside. In a feeble attempt to not feel like a total parental failure, I yelled in to him that he should try to get her to eat a little more before putting her down, and as they made their way to the high chair, I made my way into bed. Wrapped up in semi-darkness, blankets and guilt.
How quickly had I let my own situation affect my demeanor with my child? Sure, this may not qualify me for worst parent of the year, but I did feel bad about it. I am so thankful that God is so much more than I could ever hope to be. His patience with us is unending. How often do we let Him down and disobey His commandments? How often do we keep repeating the same things that go against His wishes? We fail Him daily, and yet He never has to step away. He doesn’t have to take a second to calm Himself down. He doesn’t let anything affect His love and devotion and patience with us.
What a beautiful gift that is. Unconditional love – layered with unconditional patience. He truly is the divine Father, and is the epitome of what we should strive to be as parents. I am learning more and more that I need to rely on His Grace more fully – as mine will never suffice. I can’t do it on my own, and His Grace is perfect. The more I can channel His Grace into my life and my relationships – especially with my children – the better off we will be.
And speaking about His Grace – it’s amazing how He reminds of us of that gift, and His timing is perfect. Yesterday, it shined through the face of my little girl..
As I lay in bed wrapped in blankets and guilt, trying to calm my head and my heart, trying to forgive myself of my failures and fight off the feelings of being a bad parent, Peanut and her daddy came in to say goodnight. That sweet baby dove right onto the bed and climbed up to share my pillow with me.
She smiled, hugged, and talked to me like nothing had happened. She’d already forgotten our struggles of the evening, and was ready to say she loved me to the moon and back. His Grace poured right out of her eyes, mouth and little hands as she wished me goodnight and waved over her daddy’s shoulder as they walked down the hall to her room.
You hear about having faith like a child, but I think there’s just as much value in having love like a child too.
On days like that where I get caught in failure, I am so thankful to have a Heavenly Father who sends His Grace and patience my way, and how He sends reminders of pure and true love in the shape of my little girl.
To all you mommies (or daddies) out there on the breaking point – especially if that breaking point is something small you feel shouldn’t push you as hard as it is – hang in there. Hold on to His promise and His Grace. Step away if you need to, but remember that He isn’t stepping away from you, and He’s right there to fill in the gaps you think are empty.