By Vanessa Rasanen
This morning I failed. Despite every effort to tackle those few hours of solo-parenting with grace and love and patience, I was running around like a banshee. The kids — though dressed, fed, and happy — weren’t listening. They were outright ignoring me, disobeying, and breaking the fourth left and right. And I was flipping out.
The playroom was a pit. The roast needed to get in the slow cooker. The dogs needed to be kenneled. One kid needed water. One needed help opening the sippy cup. Another needed a diaper change. And my coffee — my poor, sad, neglected coffee — was cold.
I was running late, and it was my own fault. My stress levels were skyrocketing, and I only had myself to blame.
But nope. Instead I screamed.
My mom-voice cut through the kids’ laughter and joyful squeals, reminding them that they were supposed to be cleaning up the blocks, not making toy swords with them! My voice barked out orders for the millionth time to get shoes on. I growled. I cursed. I showed every ugly bit of myself to my three young ones.
And I’m sad to say none of them batted an eye.
This is their normal.
This is life with a mom who fails. This is life with a mom who has a short-fuse and a quick temper. This is a life with a mom who sins. Daily. Hourly. All the time.
In my head my Old Adam wove the lies together beautifully. The kids were sinning. They were disobeying. They were ignoring me and not honoring their mother. It was good and right to get angry over their misbehavior. I was justified in my overuse of my mom-voice — that growly, firm, lower-than-normal tone I’ve perfected over the last six years.
But when that self-justifying started, God’s Word turned me around.
Yes, our kids are sinners, and that morning they were wrong. They needed correction and discipline; guidance and, well, a mom. They needed me to be firm, but not hurtful. They needed me to correct and teach, but lovingly.
With them all buckled and our van headed down the street, I took a breath and remembered the words of our Lord: “repent and believe in the gospel.” And that Gospel? That’s Christ crucified for us — that while we were yet sinners, God came down, took on flesh, lived a sinless life, died the death we deserve, and then conquered that death by rising again so that we each may be saved from this curse of sin.
I looked in my rearview mirror and apologized to my children for being mean and for screaming so much. My Old Adam again nudged me to tack on the same old excuses — that I was tired and stressed, that mornings without their dad’s help were hard — but I knew they were empty excuses. The fact remained, I had lost my temper. I had gone too far. I had sinned against my little neighbors. They didn’t need my excuses; they needed to hear my repentance and my request for forgiveness.
And then their little voices came from the backseat with some of the best words a mother can hear from her children: “I forgive you, mom.”
They followed quickly with their own repentance: “I’m sorry for not listening… I’m sorry for not picking up the blocks.”
Through a proud mama smile I offered them the forgiveness they sought.
I’d love to say that was that, but my temper flared again this evening with my mom-voice returning in all its impatient glory. For every glimpse of improvement I find, there seem to be ten more trips and slips back down into the muck. Such is the sanctified life — the striving and the slipping, the trying and the failing. But just as surely as this life will have its messes and its tantrums, we have the blessed promise fulfilled in Christ Jesus, that amidst it all we have Christ crucified for us — and for our littlest neighbors, too.