“Mom!…. un-intelligible mumble mumble sniffle…sobs….Mom!” Screamed my youngest- through tears.
I ran to the door expecting to find blood. I thought I’d find skinned knees or hurt feelings… (It’s THAT time of the summer, when kids have been playing together so much they are in a constant state of emotional flux..) I didn’t expect to find him standing next to my new car.
The new car we spent days looking for and test driving and struggling to pick just the right one. Yeah, that one. The new car that I’ve always wanted. A (used- but new to me) convertible. Yup. My dream car. (It happens- some girls can have dream cars.) A silver 2008 Chrysler Sebring convertible. My shiny, happy, sunshine conducive, non-moose-mobile new (ish) car. The car I’ve wanted for 20+ years- while I’ve been driving mini-vans and SUV’s. (Because I’m practical like that- aren’t all moms?)
Since my older two are in college, there really isn’t much need for me to drive a vehicle that seats 4 adults and a child. So it was deemed to finally be: convertible time. Standing in the driveway all I could think was:
“Why is he crying by my car?”
Eventually I made out the words: “Bike, scratch (and) I’m sorry” Which is when I had an out of body experience.
From above the scene, I saw a “through all the coats of everything” scratch about 18 inches long on the rear quarter panel. I also saw my child, cowering as if he were facing the electric chair- or maybe the guillotine. The look on his face said: “I’m guilty and deserve to die. Forgive me, but do with me what you will.”
Like all out of body experiences (I don’t know-I’m making this up, just go with me, ok?) time collapsed on itself like telescope, and then extended into an alternate reality…..) Or, it just slowed down around me while I moved ahead in my mind… which, kind of sounds like a psychotic break..but I’m back from, so don’t worry. Either way- in that moment I knew I had a choice: let out my disappointment and frustration with all the tidal force I felt it building up inside me with… and face smooshing my child like an emotional bug, or stop. Calm down, and get a grip.
I wanted to kill him. (Not really- but you know what I mean.) At minimum, I wanted to make sure he KNEW how upset I was. I wanted to tell him to be more careful. I wanted to remind him to put his bike away and pay attention.
I knew that all of those things would have been the relational equivalent of napalm. I’ve done it before and had to clean up the mess. (It’s bad.) I’ve also watched it happen hundreds of times: a mom, in total frustration and desperation pours out all of it on her child. The child crumbles. Everything he/she fears about itself- (I’m irresponsible, clumsy, stupid, selfish, lazy, inconsiderate, and should know better…) are confirmed by the one who knows them best: mom. and the weight of it crushes a tiny heart.
For once I choose to get a grip. (This could only have been an act of God on my child’s behalf. Trust me- the amount of calmness that overcame me was DIVINE and totally not: me.) I took a deep breath, silently repeated my mommy mantra: “People are more Precious than Products.” Then: I said the only thing I could:
“I love you, more than any car.”
Relief blew across his face, like the wind blows through a convertible.
Cars can be repainted. Things can be replaced or fixed or done without… but the heart of a child can’t.
Every mom faces moments like this- sometimes we choose to squash and others we choose to extend grace. I have to say- having done my share of squashing… the day after grace- feels MUCH better.
Today- or tomorrow- or sometime soon,you’ll probably have one of those out of body experiences… and I hope you choose grace, too!
People are more Precious than Products… Yup- even more precious than Silver convertibles you wait 20 years for….trust me on this- I know!
Dear Lord- thank you for that divine intervention. Thank you for extending grace to me- so I can extend it to others. God- I pray that you will protect my child’s heart from the times when I pour out my wrath instead. and I pray for each mom that reads, that she too will choose grace. Moms have the power to squash like a bug- or build up like a tower..help us to build up our children- so they can withstand the wind of the world… In Jesus name- amen
Proverbs 18: 20-21
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.
hmmm so- anyone know anyone who does nice (cheap) paint work locally? #fixedwouldbegood