I lost “it” this morning.
By “it”, I mean my patience, my mind, my cool, my sanity, my control.
Josie has been struggling for several weeks with going to to school. Part of it has to do with having separation anxiety, which she also went through last year. Part of it apparently has to do with having a fear of people dying and being sad when they are in Heaven. Part of it has to do with wanting things to be the way she wants them to be but not getting her way. Part of it has to do with the fact that she’s always been an emotionally intense child.
A lot of it has to do with her being five and having a lot of big thoughts going on that her brain just isn’t ready to make sense of yet.
As a school counselor, I’ve done my best to go through all of the techniques and strategies I can think of to figure out what would best help her.
As a mom, I have been doing my best to practice things like taking deep breaths and expressing gratitude to help her through this season of challenge.
Every day I have prayed for her to find peace and happiness. I have prayed for myself to have the patience and ability to help her.
Today I failed her. Big time.
As I was yelling and slamming doors and stomping and crying, I knew it was the absolute wrong thing to do. But her five-year-old tears and whining and ungratefulness coupled with my own personal stressors and frustrations resulted in me losing it.
By the time we got to school, I had calmed down enough to apologize to her. To try to explain that my reaction was in response to my frustration at her behavior.
When I got an email from her teacher letting me know that she had a couple of rough moments during the morning, including yelling and stomping her feet, I had to admit to my role in that. That it was my fault she acted that way, not Josie’s. Let me just tell you that admitting to a co-worker that you failed your own daughter and caused hardship for both of them is a very humbling experience.
Throughout the day, I cycled through feelings of disappointment, anger and guilt for my behavior; frustration at not knowing how to help my daughter; fear of how my words and actions may have affected her.
By the end of the school day, I was drained. Physically, mentally, emotionally.
It was when I got downstairs to pick Josie up that I found what I didn’t expect but so badly needed.
I found grace.
When she saw me and broke out in a huge smile, she gave me grace.
When she hugged me tight and told me she had a great afternoon, she gave me grace.
When I apologized to her again for the way I acted this morning and she said, “You already told me that.”, she gave me grace.
When she told me, “It’s hard for both of us.” after I apologized again and told her of my plan to do better tomorrow, she gave me grace.
I didn’t deserve this child’s forgiveness and grace today, but it’s what I got because it’s what I needed.
I pray that this reflection of my own shortcomings might serve to remind you of the importance of seeking forgiveness and accepting grace. Especially when you feel you least deserve it. In turn, be ready to give forgiveness and grace to those who may not deserve it but desperately need it.