I made a huge mistake today. Huge.
Let me preface with this…
Have you ever been so close to the end of your proverbial rope that there’s no room to tie that proverbial knot and hang on? I’m there. I’m definitely there.
We have this strange dichotomy in our house. We have never been happier or felt more blessed or more thankful. I keep talking about all this wonderful gratitude I’m feeling this year, and it’s been wonderful. Truly. Yet, this year has become increasingly more difficult as the days have passed. (Gee thanks, Lord. But really… Thank You.)
Mr. Old School and I are juggling some issues that makes our world feel like if we drop something, the dam will break and we along with it.
For the record, our marriage is strong. It’s definitely not that. Thank God it’s not that!
It’s just life. We’ve had quite a few curve balls in the last months and weeks and I feel like I’m losing it. Losing it!
Throw Christmas in there and you’ve just jacked the stress up 10,000 times more…
…and then Stinker Bell lost herself in her emotions this morning. For TWO. HOURS.
She cried because, after she stood looking at her naked little self in the bathroom mirror for 5 minutes (when she was supposed to be doing here post-pottying hand washing), she got a sharp reprimand.
Now, something you must understand about this child. She takes harsh tones in your voice extremely personally. And then, once she starts crying, it’s really hard to get her back on track. She’s paralyzed. At four years old, we’re trying to give her simple techniques like deep breathing and stuff, but the child doesn’t even really know what she’s feeling; only that she’s feeling; so our current goal is try to keep her out of the dreaded “Crying Zone”.
So she froze. Her face crinkled up, turned red, out came the high-pitched shrills of her cry.
We were there for another 5 minutes. I washed her hands for her to move her to the next thing. Sometimes, ya just gotta get it done.
Then, she didn’t want to wear the shirt I’d picked. I’m not feeling well this morning and am in no mood to negotiate, so her choices were sit in her room without breakfast or put on the shirt and come to breakfast. That standoff didn’t last long. Food is always the answer with her.
Then it was putting on her socks. Her little fat fingers don’t quite yet get it and it drives her poor little perfectionist self to madness … and, of course, tears …
Between heaves, she told me she was not going to go to school and she went in her room and shut the door. She’s FOUR. I’m thinking of removing that dumb door. At least she didn’t say it disrespectfully. I would have lost it then.
Meanwhile, I’m dealing with a serious headache and nausea that I’m not sure is from a recent head injury or from the neck pain from said head injury or from hunger… I’m really in no position to even be dealing with children this morning, but it’s like that one cold medicine commercial where the grown ups are saying they can’t go to work today and they’re talking to their kids. I totally feel that today.
So then it was shoes. By that time, she was so overcome because of SockGate, she had lost herself and couldn’t bring herself to even touch her shoes. Of course, we were already late to school by then… Another thing I just did to get it done (fussing at her the whole time, of course).
We got out to the car and her puffy jacket makes buckling her carseat hard for her, but I was at my limit, so I left her to do it herself. Before we get out of the driveway, she’s squealing her cries.
Side note: God and I have had numerous talks about this voice He gave her with the high-pitched notes only dogs can hear. It’s lovely when she’s joyful. It’s torture when she’s not. When she was a newborn, I was alone in Target one time and heard another newborn cry his sweet little guts out … and I cried because I wished that was all that came out of my newborn when she gave it her all. It wasn’t even half her cry!! I still have issue about that.
So I got out, buckled her in and my dam broke.
“I am so angry with you, I’m ready to take you to school and just not pick you up! You can cry all you want to, but I do not want to hear it. Cry quietly. I cannot take any more of this today!”
I didn’t even feel bad about it. I was just pissed. I slammed her door shut, got in the car, and drove us to her school.
She cried all the way there. I noticed she held my hand tighter than she’d ever held it before. She wouldn’t let me go when it was time for me to leave her classroom. I sat with her in my lap as she gripped my neck as tightly as I’d let her as she sobbed and sobbed.
And then I realized what was happening.
From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled;
with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.
The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 18:20-21 (New International Version)
I’m always extremely careful when speaking to my children and my husband. I was very careless this morning. As we say in our house, I had lost my Fruits of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [[a]that can bring a charge].
Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version)
I had hurt my child’s heart.
(Parents), do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 (Amplified Bible)
With a broken heart of my own, I promised her that I’d pick her up today. That I love her. That would never leave her because I’m angry with her (because, of course, Miss Smarty-Patarty-Details-Child brought up that one day I “will leave (her) when (I) die”).
We also talked about her attitude and behavior that led me to my anger.
We forgave and loved on each other and she was happy to flit off toward her best friend and make a space for herself among her criss-cross-applesauced friends and I am thankful for 3 hours of saying not a single word to a single soul; which, of course, I use to write.
I’m sitting here crying as I’m typing this. I’m still in physical pain. The money’s no better. My oven still doesn’t work. I had a hard morning. I’m sorely ashamed of my failure this morning. But I’m learning and I’m loving and my family is forgiving and we’re going to make it through this together. And I’m thankful.
Now, I’m bringing this up because this is something we all wrestle with and I’ve promised you that I’d be candid about my own struggles. Our words mean something even when we think we don’t. This is far bigger than the rough morning my daughter and I had with quick recovery. This is life. This is an issue we face in our society at large. Not just in how grown ups speak to children, but in how we all speak to each other.
Are you struggling with the words you say? A few things you might want to research:
• Character assassination in the context of interpersonal relationships
• Fighting fair
Search your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate where you assassinate characters and you don’t fight fairly. Trust me. You’ll see it. It will change the way you speak to people. It will change your heart. It will change the way others see you. It will change your life.
Thank God for Forgiveness.