A Bad Morning Story
It is a cold and rainy Monday morning. I wake up with a whole family of 6 sleeping in my room. It is impossible to walk to the bathroom without stepping on child-sized appendages. Three of four kids are sick (now: make that 4 of 4 plus mommy). I hadn’t planned to send the girls to school. But this sickness isn’t the raging-fever kind. It’s more of the red, leaky noses and sick, droopy eyes kind. The kind that make it hard to decide whether they should go to school. But the more I thought about a kindergartner with low grades on her phonics tests and a 2nd grader with parts to memorize for the Christmas play, the more I thought maybe I should make them rough it, droopy noses and eyes and all.
So the day begins.
Handsome husband, calm, rested & smooth, takes a long hot shower. Crisp hair. Crisp clothes. Smooth jaw. Eats his cereal while reading the news. Leaves promptly at 7:30....the usual time....without the girls. They are not ready at the usual time because of the whole sickness-indecision-thing. But he thinks they should go to school because they’ve missed a lot. (My mommy-gut disagrees, but I go on...)
So Then there’s me...braid hanging. Skirt and shirt that don’t match. Ugly eyes propped open with toothpicks after yet another night chopped with baby feedings, wet beds, lost pacifiers, restless sleepers. I begin the delightful process of dressing, feeding, managing four with very few minutes to get out the door.
Karissa’s sock line won’t line up and there’s a BUMP on the corner of her sock!!! Her shoe hurts. She absolutely cannot eat her cereal unless she is sitting by baby Corin.
Kayla is lost in wonder-world somewhere as she moves to the rhythm of her own cabassa. And she INSISTS those are not the socks she laid out last night. The socks she laid out did NOT have a flower on them!
Caiden (happy, dancing, love-giving boy) is a TERROR! His nose is “stuck.” Two of his favorite blankies are peed-on. He had a rough night. He is Not. A. Happy. Camper.
Corin is beginning the twist-and-grunt routine that means the starving-baby screaming is about to begin.
Thank goodness for the nightly habit of laying out clothes and planning lunches. We manage school uniforms and cereal bowls and phonics practice and long hair and hungry babies. Me getting to the end-of-my-rope-very-quickly. Me barking orders. Me starting to feel frustration mount. Me feeling resentful of smooth-and-handsome-husband who drove to school alone this morning. (Although he did deal with necessary discipline of sin-born 3-year-old boy before leaving.)
Grab 50-pound-carseat with 30-pound infant. Open the door and realize there is an icy-cold rain. Sigh. Zip coats. Worry about asthma girl. This day is an asthma attack waiting to happen. (And we all know that 7-year-old girls with asthma are at the top of the H1N1 high-risk list.) Hoods up. Hand car keys to kids.
Then the inevitable. Caiden’s bones turn to mush. He is now a screaming mess of boneless 3-year-old tissue writhing on my kitchen floor. I get baby and girls to car. And return to administer necessary discipline to boneless screaming boy.
Then the convicting quiet of the rainy 3-minute drive to school. I urge the girls to “GET. OUT. OF. THE. VAN!” a little too forcefully. Feel guilty for not writing tardy note for office. Refuse to go into school with mismatched clothes and toothpick eyes. Drive home while 3-year-old cries that he wants to go to Grandmas. He doesn’t want to be with me, he wants to be with grandma, he says. Repeatedly.
Tears squeeze out of my tired, ugly toothpick-propped eyes and onto my unmatched shirt.
And the WORD, living in me even when it hurts, reminds me of one of my favorite passages and life-goal.
"She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness." Proverbs 31:26
Shoulders sag with reality and conviction. There may have been law on my lips this morning. But I’m not sure I heard much kindness.
This conviction is not just that of a rushed and frustrating morning. Our mornings are not always like that. Most mornings the girls walk out the door at 7:30 with uniforms and hair and smiles and the boys and I quietly begin our day.
But this law of kindness thing has been working on me.
I believe in parental authority. Obedience is necessary, we say around here. And our kids were born with sinful tendencies. It is my job to train them. (The NIV translation of Proverbs 31:26 says "faithful instruction is on her tongue.)
But sometimes I have noticed that when I instruct. And when they disobey. When they create a delightful disaster zone in the living room and whine obnoxiously as they pick up the mess. I don’t always have a gentle tongue.
As my tongue trains, it sometimes sounds more angry or hard than it needs to.
I understand there is a delicate balance here. There are times when this brood of kids needs to be disciplined and instructed very strongly. And I’m a high-energy mom with high-energy kids. We talk and move and play and work with high energy. But sometimes I cross the line.
I have been convicted that necessary training and discipline does not give me license to talk harshly. I must be firm. But gentle. I long for authority and kindness at once.
2. Put the direct link to that post into the next number below.