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Just as I am, without one plea...

There's this thing with having small children that can talk.

They repeat everything you say.

EVERYTHING.

When Joel yells and flails his hands, I declare that I have no idea where he learned those mannerisms.  He must have been born that way.  Maybe he gleaned it from an episode of Mickey Mouse.  But surely not from me.  I never screech.  I never throw my hands in a wide arc of frustration and giving up.  No.  Never.

The other night Joel and Daddy were coming down the steps and Aaron must have been stopping to do something - pick up a toy, turn off a light, something to delay their descent.  And I hear Joel go, "Stop screwing around!"  We laughed and as they made it to the main floor Aaron encouraged him to say, "Stop messing around."  But the damage was done.

There are days when all I feel I am doing is wrecking him.  That he is this sweet little bundle of innocence, even though I know he's not.  I realize he was born a sinner in need of saving grace.  I know that.  I know that his cute little heart is dark without the light of Jesus.  But there are days, weeks even, when I feel very little light and I'm just struggling to get by, to get from breakfast to nap to dinner to bath to bed without collapsing face first into the five loads of laundry I've been diligent to wash but distracted to fold.

We were headed out the other morning and I ran back in the house to grab something I had forgot and as I came back into the garage, I heard wailing from the van.  I yanked open the door fast to see what was causing the horrendous meltdown and through sobs (and drama - no idea where he got that, either!) he tells me that he dropped his cup.  I calmly pick it up and tell him, "Honey, it's okay.  Mommy will help you.  All you have to do is ask for help.  But don't scream like that.  You scared me."  He nods and I wipe tears and I ask, "Better now?" and he nods again and I give a kiss and away we go.  We're backing out of the driveway and I hear it, soft, real.

"Sorry (which sounds like "sozzy") I scared you, Mommy."  My eyes burn instantly withs salt.  I turn and smile.

"It's okay, baby.  Thank you for apologizing.  I love you.  Are you ready for our little adventure now?"  He's all smiles.  The mishap a thing of the past, the tears dried and the apology offered... and accepted.  Just as it should be.

And it takes me a full minute... or five, to hear the drilling message in my heart.

He learned that from you.

I don't claim to do anything well.  I'll straight up say that there is a lot I do a shabby job of.  I'm lazy when I know I need to be proactive and I eat chocolate when I'm stressed and I don't make the effort, do the chores or monitor my online time as diligently as I could.  Should.  And I don't do it awesome, but there is one thing I try so hard to do... and that is to apologize.  To show that we have a need to be forgiven.  That we all mess up and goof off and that there is this thing called grace... and that because we have been given so much, we can't restrict it from anyone.

I have apologized to my toddler time and time again.  I have done so in tears.  I have done so with pride itching up my back.  I have admitted defeat and been plain shamed and embarrassed by my actions, my lack of self-control, my sinful nature that I never want to act upon but still sometimes do.  And worse?  Worse when little eyes that you prayed for and prayed over and birthed and baked birthday cakes for.  Worse with them watching and taking notes.  Worse with them being yelled at when they need patience and worse with them being wide-eyed and soaking it all in as if to say, "This must be how it is supposed to be."  And when they yell and they toss toys and they scream, "I'm losing my mind!"...  Well.  What do you even say to any of it?

What do you do other than get on your knees and cup a tiny face and say, "I am so sorry.  I was so wrong."?

I realize every parent goes through this.  We all let things slip or don't realize how poor a behavior is until you see it manifested in the attitude and actions of your sweet baby.  I remember my Mom saying once how she found me in my bedroom when I was little, probably close in age to what Joel is now, and I was shaking my baby doll and yelling in her face saying, "Do you hear me?!  Do you hear me?!"  Mom was just as embarrassed and just as chastised as I was and am in those moments when my kids reflect something they've heard or learned... from me.

And sometimes you can beat yourself down and beat yourself up with all the ways you are incomplete and failing and the fear of wrecking your kid for life is strong.  We all know as parents that we're not perfect.  I'm not a perfect wife and I'm not a perfect daughter and I'm not a perfect friend.  Why would I think I would or could be, somehow, a perfect mother 24/7?  I need a Savior all the time.  Not just part-time.  Not just in certain areas of my life.  Everywhere, all day long.  In every pursuit, every goal, every job, every journey.  I have to have Jesus.

And I need Him to remind me of things I forget and to focus my vision when I am red-eyed and blind.  When I am tempted to throw in the towel at "better" and just settle, permanently on just making it out alive.  In walking with Him as Savior and friend I find that His are the affirming words I need.  I need Him to see, to notice.  And I need to know He does.  Sometimes we get the tap on the shoulder to reign it in or the knot in our gut to recognize we need to go reconcile and sometimes there's the wide open door and we feel the longing, the push, the knowing in our heart to step on through.

And sometimes He gets down on our level, cups the face of the created in His hands and says, "It's okay.  I've still got you in this.  See?  See how I am doing something new?  Something good?  It's not over."

It's never over.  Sorry is never too late.

"... for all have sinned
and fall short of the glory of God,
and are justified by His grace
as a gift, through the 
redemption that is in 
Christ Jesus."
~  R o m a n s   3 : 2  3 - 2 4 

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