Today has been one of those days. From the moment he woke up my three year old was unsatisfied and disobedient. He didn't want anything I suggested for breakfast, slow and distracted when picking up toys so we could go to Mother's Day Out, followed by kicking and screaming in his car seat.
After school I took him to Target to get a birthday present with his gift card and he cried and yelled at me the majority of the time. On the way to the car he hit his baby sister for no reason and then melted down when he got scolded. I knew he needed some positive attention but if we could just make it home first...
Then comes the biggest battle of all, nap time. Yelling and crying and demanding of longer cuddles and more stories... My skin was crawling to get out of there before I let my frustration get the best of me. So I did what has to happen sometimes, I kissed him and told him I loved him then tucked him in before leaving the room. I could tell he wanted me to stay longer and was still a little upset, but I had already used up all my parenting energy.
I went to my own room and sat down on my bed and started venting to the Lord about how hard being a mom is sometimes. I feel like I'm constantly failing, constantly needing to be better, more patient, more fun. But in the midst of my pity-party I realized that I'm focusing on the wrong things. My kids won't remember the times I snapped at them or the tone in my voice when they weren't listening, they'll remember the moments I loved them, which is a majority of our moments. They'll remember how I laid in bed with them and sang hymns before they went to sleep. Or the times I bought him popcorn at Target and let him share my drink. And the countless silly faces I made at him in the rear view mirror to try and make him giggle. In the long run, it will be our shared joy, not my weak moments of impatience, that will become his best memories.
So I went back in his room where he was still somewhat tearful and I climbed into my big three year old's bed with a renewed energy. He looked up at me and in his sweet little voice said, "mama, hold me like a baby." So I did. And I fell in love with my baby all over again. I held him and gently brushed the hair out of his face with my fingers. He held my hand and I watched his eyes start to flutter as he fought the inevitable heaviness of sleep. I took his hand in my hand and when his fingers curled around mine I let my prayers wash over his sweet little body. Teach him to be truly loving to those around him. Let him stand up for others and never make anyone feel small. Allow him to be patient instead of angry. Grow him into a man of character. But most importantly, teach him to love YOU, Jesus. Share with him Your irresistible grace.
And then it was time for my own prayers. Please make me more gracious. Make me patient and forgiving. Remind me of his tender spirit when the anger and frustration starts to rise up inside of me. Make me kinder, overwhelmed by my love for him and not my frustration. Allow me to soak in these moments, take advantage of this closing window where he still wants to fall asleep wrapped in my arms. And most of all, remind me to be forgiving of myself; his memories of childhood will not be my sigh of exasperation or my snappiness when he disobeyed for the hundredth time, but it will be moments like this where I loved him when he needed it most.