Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Showing your child Grace when they act Graceless
I feel like a broken record. For the tenth time this month we are arguing over him cleaning his room. Keep in mind, he's eight about to be nine and this shouldn't be as big of an issue as it is at his age. Or so I keep telling myself. Usually, I get frustrated enough that I just complete it myself but this time we have decided, as his parents, to stick to our word and make him do it himself.
This is day nine that he's been asked to clean the same messy room. Two hours go by and I check out his room and his definition of clean is no where near my definition or really anyone's definition of clean. He's spent more time reading things he found, making LEGO creations or just fooling around then actually cleaning. At this point, I am taking this much more personally than I thought I would. "If he spent his time picking up instead of messing around this could be done. After all I do for him, how dare he just not care enough to keep his room tidy. Does he know how much his father and I sacrifice for him to have all he has or for him to do all the things he gets to do? This is inconsiderate, how could he be so Graceless?" Then I start thinking about the surprise Disney trip that we've been planning and how much I don't think he deserves it now. I'm getting really upset, more than I should have in retrospect, and I just tell him to forget it and just go to bed. I walk into the living room and just start sobbing.
It's at that moment that my best friend texts me and we start comparing our "kid stories". I go into mine and telling her about how upset I got and how I just am feeling overwhelmed and out of options. It's then that she texts me back and says, "I remember when you were just a few years older than he is now and you getting in trouble for the same exact thing. How your parents would get on to you about cleaning your room and they'd find you in the floor looking at pictures, reading notes or just singing to your CD player." OUCH. I know it wasn't her intention to sting me, but those words did. And it wasn't because they were mean or malicious, it's because they were true.
The same exact issues I've been getting on to my son about, are the same exact issues I had as a child. I remember being so easily distracted and genuinely feeling really bad when so much time had gone by and I had barely made a dent in my room. In that moment, I realized, who am I to not show him a little Grace? Grace: undeserved mercy. He's trying, he's made many efforts, he's actually stayed in his room for two hours trying to clean just to please us as his parents. And all I can give him is harsh criticism?
How can I not show my son the same Grace that God shows us every single day? I mess up, I fall flat on my face, I don't measure up to all the potential God has placed on me, but does he make me feel bad about it? Does he point out my flaws? Or does he embrace me? My God loves me, unconditionally, he shows me Grace. And I am so thankful for that Grace because I'm hard enough on myself, I couldn't carry that burden too.
So, as I recollected myself and preached a little to myself I went back in his bedroom turned on the lights and just hugged him. I told him I was sorry for being so hard on him and that I recognize how much work he put into his room and that I understood what it meant to be distracted. I told him after school we would work on it together. I won't do it for him but I will help guide him.
I am writing this for the overwhelmed mom, the mom who feels like her kids just aren't getting it, the mom who feels like maybe she failed somewhere. Being a mom is the toughest job on the planet, and we are so hard on ourselves and sometimes we mirror that onto unrealistic expectations for our children. Remember to give a little Grace. I'm a mom, I'm human and sometimes I get it wrong. But there's something beautiful about finding a message in the mess you make.