Every now and then, I feel like the worst mother in the world.
This morning we had brunch with some of our friends. The dads took the kids for a walk in the complex while the moms cleaned up. And by cleaned up, I obviously mean: relaxed and chatted without children clambering over us and interrupting every second sentence. When everyone returned from the walk, Angie handed me two flowers.
My reaction was not the one she was hoping for. I thanked her, but followed it immediately with a reminder that she’s not supposed to pick flowers.
Later, as I strapped her into the car to leave, she asked where my flowers were. I could have gone back inside to fetch them. I didn’t. I said, “You weren’t supposed to pick them. I’m not going to take them home.”
Such a mature response.
Angie’s face fell and she was silent all the way home.
It was about a ten minute drive, but with the weight of my guilt it felt like forever.
Was Angie wrong to pick the flowers? Yes, but I was wrong to reprimand her instead of simply accepting them as a gift of love. She did not pick them out of disobedience or malice. She picked them because she wanted to give me something pretty.
“I’m sorry,” I told her when we got home. “I know you wanted to give me a present. I know you weren’t being naughty.”
Downcast face. A refusal to meet my eyes. Clear signs of how I had wounded her. My own guilt twisted my gut.
“You know,” I said, “when you pick flowers they die. Won’t you draw a flower for me instead? A special flower that won’t die? I’ll put it on the wall so I can see it everyday.”
Just like that, I was forgiven. She rushed inside to draw a flower for me.
My guilt is not entirely gone. I regret my thoughtless reaction, my refusal to accept her gift for what it was. I hope this is a lesson I won’t have to learn again. I hope that I won’t be so quick to scold that I overlook her heart.
I will keep her picture on the wall as a reminder to me to cherish my children’s gifts to me. To cherish my children as gifts to me.
I may not be the worst mother in the world, but I am very aware that I am not perfect. I want to parent my children the way God parents us, and when I mess up like I did today, I am so conscious of His grace toward me. I am so humbled by His grace and I want to model that for my children.
That is why I said sorry to Angie. That is why I asked her to forgive me.
And she did.
Do you find it difficult to apologise to your children?