Clothes hang on the oversized armchair, the trunk, spilling over the corner of our bed and pooling on the ground in a rainbow of sweaters and basketball shorts. It’s a mess. Our bedroom is a mess.
And just the other day I was nagging my oldest about cleaning up his room. Not once. Not twice, but ten times. I was like a night owl scouring his floor for stray nerf gun bullets and scattered books and can you please put the beanies in the basket by the front door? How many times do I have to ask you?
Ten. Approximately ten times, mom.
The following morning, on the way to get ready for the day, I was met with my own mirror: all the clothes that have trailed on a chair, a trunk, our bed, for what? Weeks maybe? I do believe there’s a Christmas bag in the corner that I’ve yet to touch since December.
And it hit me; the sin of a critical spirit that I’m projecting on my oldest. Because I’m feeling criticized and evaluated at the moment. I’m feeling, and then compounding with additional critical self-thoughts.
Why can’t you get it together? Why is this taking so long to learn? Why aren’t you more organized? Why don’t you finish well?
See it? Hear it? Icky critical thoughts- whether they come from the outside or from our own thoughts. And here I was ladling them high and dumping them on my poor kid in the form of FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, JUST CLEAN YOUR ROOM.
Now hear me. I’m raising them to be first time listeners; not robots. I’m raising them to look for ways to help instead of waiting to be asked. But man oh man, more than anything, I’m raising them to be human and know grace when they don’t lickety split to my every request.
Because I need grace and I’m sure you do too. Don’t you want the safety of trying and fumbling and being loved and patiently understood in the process?
So I called Tanner into our room first thing in the morning and we crawled right up on that clothes-covered bed and I looked at a party of freckles scattered across his bridge and smooching the side of his temples and said,
I’m sorry. I’ve been critical and I’m projecting my need for control onto you and that sucks. Will you forgive me?
And then I cried, and man, I hate crying in front of my kids because I remember when I was younger and an adult cried and I wasn’t sure if I should hug them or sit there, so now I’m waving at the tears and laughing and blubbering,
It’s just that I think you’re amazing. Like seriously amazing. I’m so in awe of how you think and create and work hard, and I have high expectations because you’re smart, and I’m wiping tears, unsure where this is coming from, but I don’t want my expectations to trump our relationship. I just believe in you and want to help you be the best version of you and
– he leans in and says,
It’s okay mom. I was lazy. I get it.
And we hug and I squeeze his knee and laugh because parenting is like looking in a mirror at my younger self and knowing I do the same things as a mom that I did as a kid and really, we all just need an adult to come along and say, I love you. I see you. Please listen. And I still love you when you don’t. I’m sorry when I turn crazy and critical and all the things.
Grace upon freakin’ grace, right?
Let’s douse the world with it, starting with those in our own homes.