Thursday, September 4, 2014

But by Grace {Again}

Just get your backpack and get out of the car.

I  shouldn't have uttered those words today.
But I did.

Oh, it's not like I kicked her out of the car or anything.  She was going in to her friend Amanda's house to do homework. And she had one final thing to say, and that wasn't ok with me. That's fair, right?

I was justified in reprimanding her for her attitude in front of her friend while we drove. Wasn't I?  After all, Kaitlin making plans without my knowledge--combined with me having a tight schedule of which Kaitlin was unaware--now had me "frantically" driving around town knowing I'd be late for a meeting. So didn't that place her in the wrong?

The words Kaitlin spoke when she got out of the van were simple: "Mom, you've made Amanda feel terrible. She said she could help me with Algebra, and now she thinks our fighting is all her fault."

I showed no sympathy. After all, wasn't Kaitlin the one who should feel bad?

But as I drove away, I knew I had ruled with a heavier hand than necessary. And that conviction deepened when my son Connor said these words: "Why is our family like this?"

(For the record, these things don't happen all the time.  That said, it's never not happened before, either).

I had to face the truth.  A lot of what I said to Kaitlin in the car could have waited until we were home alone. And because I said she could go to Amanda's to work on homework, it really wasn't fair for me to go on & on about how her asking at the last minute now messed up my entire schedule.

The real truth? My anger was misdirected.

  • I had a meeting to attend. A meeting I scheduled for the afternoon. And because I had a meeting, Mike was going to leave work & pick the kids up from school.
  • Mike's day had not gone as planned, so could I park at the school? Then he would arrive, we'd switch cars & he would be in charge of the kids.
  • Mike was still running behind, so could I bring the kids to him?
Here's the deal:  I could do all of these things, and still make it--just in time--for my meeting. But my schedule had just gotten tighter. And I HATE to be late. In fact, even the potential to be late puts butterflies in my stomach.

So, by the time the kids got in the car, I was already on Plan C for my afternoon. Kaitlin going to Amanda's for Algebra help was the final straw.

I had to face it:  I'd overreacted. I needed to fix it. 

I dictated a text for Connor to type to Amanda:  "Sorry if I made you feel bad.  I have no problem with Kaitlin going to your house. Just a problem with how she was talking. And I was upset that Mike didn't make it for school pickup. None of that is your fault."

(I did not text Kaitlin. We aren't letting our kids have phones yet. Yes, I know she is 13. I'm pretty sure I got my first phone when I was 25. But I digress).

When I picked up Kaitlin from my meeting (I was a mere 1.5 minutes late getting to that, by the way), I knew I had to express a soft heart towards my girl. We talked about Algebra, I apologized, and as we pulled into the driveway, a song came on the radio.  It was David Crowder Band's "I Am".

Mom, this is one of my favorite songs.

And so we sat in the driveway, eyes closed, voices raised, and worshipped.  

There's no space that His love can't reach
There's no place where we can't find peace
There's no end to Amazing Grace
Take me in with your arms spread wide
Take me in like an orphan child
Never let go, never leave my side.

I am,
Holding on to You.
I am,
Holding on to You.
In the middle of the storm,
I am Holding on,
I am*

I'm never going to be the perfect mom. or the always-patient wife. I won't have the perfect schedule, or the perfect daughter.  But to realize, even within the mess & mistakes, that God is bigger (and better!) than my selfishness? I'll run to that truth every time.

*Lyrics excerpted from David Crowder Bands "I Am"
Photo provided by Shots of Grace Photography