Last night I screamed at my youngest son, “I HATE that you are such a messy child!”
Not my finest moment.
My youngest son is very athletic and easy going, which is a blessing in some ways. However, when it comes to being organized or cleaning up after himself he has a very laid-back attitude. I walk in his room and there are clothes scattered everywhere. He just takes them off and drops them on the floor. I ask him to go grab something and on the way he gets distracted and forgets. He has lost so many water bottles, gloves, socks, shoes, etc. My poor neighbors probably think we are crazy as he often takes off socks or gloves while playing in the yard and forgets about them there.
He is my messy child.
I, on the other hand, am very neat and organized. I have made every effort to keep my house as neat and tidy as possible. And in a house of three kids and three dogs, that is enough to drive anyone insane.
I think God laughed when he decided to create my youngest son. I think he knew it would challenge me to let go of my expectations of a clean house and focus instead on the relationships that dwell within that house. He knew this kid would push all my buttons and force me to be better person.
Last night was one of those nights. I am on week 5 out of 8 weeks of recovering from bunion correction surgery. I am sore, tired, and frustrated from all these weeks on wheelchairs, knee scooters, and crutches. We were trying to get the house ready to have carpets installed the next day in our living room, stairs to the basement, and all the kid’s rooms, so I told the kids what items to remove from our living room, told them to get ready for bed, and that we would finish their rooms in the morning.
My youngest son decided that he would finish emptying his room right then. And he would do this by throwing all that was on the floor in his room into a big pile and kicking it across the hallway into my room. When I realized what he was doing I freaked out.
“I am on crutches! I cannot be hobbling around at night and tripping over all your stuff! I told you to get ready for bed and we would finish your room in the morning. Put all this stuff back!” I yelled.
He groaned and proceeded to lazily kick all his stuff out of my room and back into his.
I looked at this pile he was kicking. I saw a lot of clothes, items I had asked him to put away earlier that day, trash, stuffed animals . . . and I just lost it.
I yelled those awful words, “I HATE that you are such a messy child!”
He screamed something back at me, told me I was a bully (he was not wrong), and slammed his door.
I slunk back into my room, sat down so I could rest my aching body, and wondered why I had even said it. I had heard the thought, “Don’t say it,” ring through my head but in my anger and frustration I had said it anyway. I felt guilty and ashamed of myself.
The next thing I knew my youngest son came into the room and said, “I’m sorry for yelling at you, Mommy.” And proceeded to give me a big hug. I felt even more guilty. Here my son was the one apologizing first. What kind of an example was I setting?
I took a deep breath, prayed for help silently, and squeezed his little body against mine. Then I whispered, “I am so sorry that I yelled at you, too. I lost my temper and that was not right. Can you please forgive me?”
He nodded and squeezed me a little tighter.
I then turned his face to mine and told him, “I love you so much. And I also like you a lot. Messy parts and all.”
He smiled and said he loved me, too. And then he went to bed.
I sat back and smiled thinking of my precious son whose laid-back attitude might cause messes and drive me crazy but it also means that he doesn’t hold onto a grudge and forgives others easily. He helps remind me that relationships are more important than things.
And I think God sat back and smiled that night, too. I think He looked down at us saying, “And that is exactly why I gave you a messy child.”
As a parent, we so often think about all the things that we want to teach our children. But there is so much that we can learn from them as well.
Like how I am learning from my youngest son to look past the mess . . .
to the precious heart that is right in front of you.