It was a typical Monday morning. I was scurrying around, trying to get myself and three children ready and out the door in time to drop Benjamin off at school by 9:00. As is our routine, I popped in a short DVD for them while I focused on getting cleaned up myself. Their movie ended about 15 minutes before we needed to be out the door, and I did not see any point in giving them another one. There were shoes to put on, teeth to brush, and coats to round up. Benjamin, however, was of an entirely different opinion. When it became apparent to him that his movie-viewing time was indeed over, the meltdown ensued,...and IT DIDN'T STOP! For the next 15 minutes my indignant eight-year-old cried and wailed with all his might, smearing snot and tears all over himself as he very vocally let me know just how mad I had made him.
By the time we shuffled out the door, he was still at it. Getting all three rounded up and into the van always feels like herding cats anyway, and this morning my nerves were already raw. As I buckled everyone in as quickly as I could, my son's protests continued. "Benjamin, that's enough!" I snapped as I slid my tired, pregnant body into the driver's seat and started the engine. Of course, responding in anger NEVER improves the situation, and his cries continued for the next few minutes.
As I pulled out the driveway, I began to pray, as I always do on our way to school. This morning, however, burning tears were welling up and stinging my eyes as I was honest with the Lord about my weariness and frustration. Sometimes a simple incident like the morning's meltdown is all it takes for an unexpected layer of grief to be peeled back. My heart was aching over my son's delays. My heart was aching over the many barriers to communication. My emotions were raw and my body weary from the demands and challenges of raising three small children, one of whom operates as a 50 lb toddler. I was TIRED.
As I prayed, I was reminded of the simple strategy of speaking aloud what I know to be true in the midst of pain and disappointment. "Benjamin, Mommy loves you so much. Benjamin, I'm happy you're my son. Benjamin, Mommy is proud of you." As I spoke these words of affirmation over my child, his demeanor calmed, and he began to smile. As I listened to my own words, my heart calmed too, and the proper perspective returned. No matter how difficult certain days may be, these truths will never change.
I was reminded once more how desperately I need God's grace at work in my life to be the mother He has called me to be. My natural, human love and good intentions are not enough. I need His life flowing in me and through me to truly be able to nurture life in my children--in their spirits, souls, and bodies. I was reminded too that, just as I need grace, I must extend grace to these little ones, especially in the hard moments. My responses and behaviors towards them are teaching them, whether right or wrong, about the heart of God. Benjamin needs my grace as we navigate day-to-day life with his disabilities. He needs my patience and understanding, my affirmation and tangible demonstrations of love. Finally, I was reminded that I must also give myself grace. It's okay to admit when it's hard. It's okay admit when I'm hurting. It's okay for me to take time for myself to recharge and refresh. As I type this I am enjoying my weekly, Saturday morning, "mommy break." I swung by an estate sale, did some shopping at the mall, and now I'm sitting in my favorite coffee shop, taking the time to reflect and decompress from the daily demands of homemaking and motherhood. I am so incredibly thankful to my husband for insisting that I take this time on a regular basis. He knows how much I need it!
It's true that some days are harder than others, but it's also true that grace is always available to me in abundance. "...My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness..." (2 Corinthians 12:9). May every day be filled with grace!