Last week, my husband relayed an interesting conversation he had with our seven-year-old daughter.
Interesting in a sobering, stab-me-in-the-heart-why-don’t-you kind of way.
Their talk went something like this.
“Dad, why is Mom so cranky?”
“I don’t know, sweetheart, why do you ask?”
“Because she yelled at me when we were making popcorn, and I don’t know why.”
“Oh, Mom didn’t mean it, lovey. She’s just tired.”
“Yeah, Dad. I think she needs more sleep. Because Mom is always cranky.”
I’ve got plenty of excuses for my less-than-stellar mom moments. This house is too noisy for my introverted psyche. I’m weary from a long and busy day. My to-do list is out of control. I’ve got a lot on my mind, okay, people? And if these kids would just cooperate and brush their teeth and pick up their crayons and stop climbing on the sofa when they’re told for crying out loud—then I wouldn’t have to be so crabby!
Well . . . .
Think about it. We moms are children, too.
Would he treat us that way?
I’m pretty sure I disobey and disappoint God all the time, yet great is my Father’s faithfulness. His compassions are new every morning, and he loves me with an unfailing love.
God wouldn’t snap at me for turning the popcorn crank too slow.
Recently I told a trusted friend and counselor that I’m just in a rough season. I’m busy, overwhelmed with freelance work, ministry, the end of the school year, family demands. One thing on top of another is crowding my white space and making me a little cuckoo. But it’s just a season! I’ll pull through!
“Becky, you’ve been in that season for a long time.”
Cranky has become my norm.
A bad day is understandable. We all have them, and God’s grace blows through the house to help pick up our mess and start fresh the next morning. But when one bad day transitions to another and another and another ad infinitum, that’s no longer just a bad day.
That’s a legacy.
And I don’t want my kids to define me as their perpetual crab.
So I listened humbly to my husband, inhaled deep, and wrote these familiar words on my kitchen chalk board:
“Love is PATIENT, love is KIND.” (I Corinthians 13:4a, emphasis added)
It really is that simple. In this house live the people I love best. Therefore, they should be granted the greatest claims on my kindness. Not my crankiness.
Yes, I’m bound to slip, maybe even tomorrow—or today. You probably will, too. But the key for us moms is to be aware of how our words, actions and attitudes are stacking up—even in the midst of constant external pressures—and to make deliberate efforts to pile on more patience, more smiles, more softness, more hugs.
And definitely more popcorn.
Tonight, it’s time to start rebuilding my legacy as a loving mom. I will invite my seven-year-old to man the popper while I cheer from the kitchen counter. And one day, I hope my girls will remember me not as that cranky grumpy snarky old hag but as the kind and easy-going mom who let them sprinkle way too much nacho cheese into their popcorn bowls.
Especially since I taught them to share. With their mother.