Monday, August 26, 2013

Sunday's Grace (After Saturday's Meltdown)



Sometimes, despite a fancy Bible college education, it takes a child to demonstrate one of faith's basic concepts.

When we were stationed in Idaho, I had my own piano studio. Over four years, I taught around 85 students from age five to 45. One of those students was Anna Klawitter.

Fresh off my traumatic first birth
, I resumed teaching duties when Jack was barely a month old. Meaning I taught around 30 students individually while holding him in my arms. I was exhausted, traumatized and overwhelmed, to say the least.



During Anna's lesson, I had just placed Jack in his carseat after a feeding (yes, I had to demonstrate forte and a hand position Mozart would be proud of all with a squirming child attached to my chest) when he had a blowout. An everywhere, you-wonder-how-such-a-small-creature-can-create-that-much-poop incident.

And I lost it. In front of a wide-eyed first grader.

"I'm sorry," I kept saying, the tears streaming down while I dabbed at the mess with baby wipes. "I'm so sorry, Anna."



Anna looked at me -- the one who was supposed to be in control -- and smiled sweetly. I think at some level she could sense that my tears weren't about a mere diaper disaster. And they weren't; instead, I was rolling in the after-effects of birth trauma, freaking out over my husband's upcoming deployment and desperately trying to figure out my role as a working mom.

She could have wrinkled her nose and said, "Gross!" But she didn't. Gap-toothed and bright-eyed, she laid her hand on my arm. "Don't worry about it," she said. "Babies do that sometimes."

I dried my tears, cleaned up the mess with Anna's help and resumed the lesson.

I'm sure Anna has forgotten whatever I taught her in a 30-minute lesson that afternoon. But I have never forgotten what she taught me
in a single sentence: grace.


Since becoming a mom, I've needed grace more than ever. Because never before have I been so desperately aware of my shortcomings, my obvious inability to solely shepherd three precious souls through a scary world untouched.

I simply can't be a good mother on my own. Without Christ's wisdom and help, I disintegrate. Saturday night reminded me of that.

After a fun family birthday party, I drove the kids home in our Corolla, while Nick, suffering from a migraine, drove the van alone. I had already driven the 75 minutes up and was now repeating the trip, and what a doozy it was.



Jude had been punched in the kisser at the party, resulting in a killer bloody nose. During the chaos in the car ride back home (read: Jack and Jude, unaccustomed to sitting so close to each other in a small car, beat each other up and quite loudly), Jude re-injured his nose.

For some reason, blood at 70 miles an hour seems so much worse. And it was EVERYWHERE.

Add to that Avinly screaming, Jude messing with his seatbelt constantly and Jack whomping on his brother when he thought I wasn't looking.

I yelled, I threatened, I tried to restore chaos in the backseat with my meanest mom voice from the front seat. I swerved while trying to take away toys being used as weapons. It was not my proudest moment as a mom. It was ugly.


I went to bed angry at myself, embarrassed over my maternal temper tantrum and feeling utterly defeated at my inability to control three small children whose combined weight still doesn't match mine.



The next morning, getting ready for church, I apologized to Jack, but I still felt terrible. When I dropped the kids off at nursery, I practically ran to the sanctuary, so ready to have a moment alone with God. Of course, as I sat down, I remembered I had forgotten to water the garden.

Great. Now not only was I a yelling, out-of-control mom, I was also a crappy gardener. Over the next few minutes and songs, more random doubts crept into my brain, like what if we couldn't find a church we like once we move to the UK?


During worship, I prayed. For wisdom, for patience, for forgiveness. Was I an awful mom? Was I a failure? Were my kids destined to turn out terribly, all because of me?

Greeting time came, and a petite, silver-haired grandma unexpectedly introduced herself. Bessie was one of Jack's Sunday School teachers. "I
just wanted to let you know," she said kindly, "that Jack is one of my favorites. He's always so sweet and generous and helpful. You're doing a really good job with him."

Grace.

And as I walked outside, I nearly jumped for joy. It was raining.



Driving home, Nick casually mentioned how his office partner -- also freshly stationed in England -- had just attended a new church that morning near our upcoming base. "They really liked it," he said. "And Bekah sent me a link about it."

Grace.

We went to another birthday party. This time, there were no bloody noses -- just the perfect blend of kidlet chatter, homemade peach ice cream, Lego time and catching up with good friends. While celebrating Jack's buddy Caleb, my friend Tara and I picked 25 cucumbers from her garden of goodness while discussing everything from fashion and fitness to nursing and new restaurants.
The birthday boy's little three-year-old brother peed on the porch, reminding me that sometimes, boys are just boys, and it has nothing to do with their mothers.
 

Grace.



Driving home, I thanked God for the morning's worship time, for Bessie's perfectly-timed praise of my son, for the life-giving rain and for the birthday party. I apologized for my mini-freakout. I trust You, I love you, and I know you love my kids even more than me Show me ways to demonstrate your love and grace to my children, because there's nothing my heart wants more than to do everything, including raise my babies, for Your glory. I know I messed up, and I know I will mess up again.

Don't worry about it, I felt him say. My babies do that sometimes.