The second lesson is harder. While I can sheepishly utter my Mea Culpa at a dining room floor that needs to be swept up, or the second dinner in a row of “What can we make with the 5 groceries still in the house?”, this next one is less easy to move past. It asks me to examine how I expect God to respond to my stubbornness (“It’s ok, Cari. You’re 35 weeks pregnant. You have five little ones at home with you all the time. Of course the house isn’t going to be spotless. Of course you need to take it easy and be gentle with yourself. You know what you need to do. You’ll get it done.”) and how I, in turn, respond to my daughter’s stubbornness (“What is wrong with you? You have dragged this out for three days. You are smarter than this, so why are you so comfortable letting this assignment beat you? Roar, roar, roar, yell, scream, threaten.”).
Which is why I’m now sitting right next to her, writing a post I’d thought I’d put off for another day or so, instead of playing outside. That’s why every time she yells or stomps her feet, I remain silent, but when she asks me for the seven millionth time for help with something she then demonstrates complete mastery over, I respond gently. It’s why I calmly redirect her to the remaining five math problems when she starts putting her pencil between her toes, when what I want to do is throw a glass across the kitchen, slam doors, and run outside. I do these things because I remembered that this is how I hope God responds to me, and because I believe this is how he responds to me, and I want to model that for the girl so she grows up believing that it’s how God responds to her, too.
Nothing in my life has prompted me to become a better person the way my children do. When the Bible talks about children being a “reward”, I think it’s talking about the future reward of heaven, and not a reward for past behavior. Which may explain why I’ve been blessed with so many kids- like Fisher’s third grade “expert”, I need more time (and help) getting the basics down.
Which, as lessons go, isn’t a bad way to do things. While I have only vague and lukewarm feelings for my third grade teacher, I love the heck out of my kids- never ending math assignments and all.
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