An evening in the life of a honest-to-goodness Mommy
So, my dear husband came home from work tonight with a monster headache — migraine-y, wanting to lay down and hold his head very still, lights off… Perhaps only the second migraine of his life. I gave him some Tylenol and water, and hurried him off to bed. Distracted, I was, by dinner preparations… Minutes later, as I was feeling badly for not being very attentive to my hubby’s needs and pain, I went into the bedroom to check on him. Audrey was standing by his side, and had put the Kleenexes next to his head — just in case. She had the idea to get the ice packs for his neck, as that was hurting as well. She had already prayed for him — her idea — and as I stood there, she kept a gentle hand on his head… Gave me hope, that did, for that crazy, rough, rowdy, smart-as-a-whip, loud little four-year-old. It made me remember when I was 36 weeks pregnant with Fiala and ill, and Audrey took care of me by covering me with her favorite blanket and commanding, “Now, suck your thumb!”
I sent a text to Martin’s small group leader, letting him know that Martin would likely not be in attendance tonight.
Martin borrowed Ethan’s old MP3 player which has some great worship music on it, and plugged in.
About 45 minutes later, Martin staggered out. Either prayer, Tylenol, worship, a profound sense of responsibility (he’s the worship leader for his small group), or a combination of those allowed him to rouse to his feet and head out the door, our 13-year-old, Ethan, carrying the guitar. (The small group meets at the home of one of Ethan’s friends; he accompanies Martin most weeks. Ethan and his buddy play video games pretty much nonstop during their “time together”. The ideas about what constitutes relationship are much different between a mother and her teenaged son.)
A short time later, I put dinner on the table for myself, Fiala, Grant, Wesley, and Audrey. Fiala had been fussy all evening, but that’s common after a late nap, as today’s had been, as we had been at a park with a number of other homeschooling families, during what would normally be Fi’s nap time.
Early into the meal, it became apparent that Fiala would rather go back to bed than eat, so I gave the other children some instructions, and went to put Fiala down for the night. She kept saying her tummy hurt. “Uh oh,” I thought.
I returned to the other three children, and fielded a somber report from Grant that, in my absence, Audrey had been speaking something so dastardly that he could not repeat it. After assurances that Grant would not get in trouble for repeating what Audrey had said, and more than a little curious, I asked him to divulge what had happened. “How bad could it be? She’s four,” I thought. I won’t write it here, but suffice it to say, it was startlingly crude, disrespectful, and downright ugly, and all of it had been apparently directed at me.
I was hurt and disturbed, and decided that Audrey needed a spank. (Yes, we spank on occasion. Wooden spoon. One to three whacks. Then, kisses, forgiveness, love, and reassurance, restoring the relationship.)
After I spanked her, we sat talking. I felt a need to know what was going on in her little mind, why she could say what she had about me. She started out by telling me that her brothers had made her say it. I knew it wasn’t true, but I just kept calm, kept my voice gentle, made sure I was motivated by love and concern for her and for our relationship. It turns out that she had had a bad dream about me the previous night, and in her little heart lurked offense, hurt, and even fear over how I had treated her, in the dream. Saying yucky things about mom behind her back was her way of “getting back.” I gently assured her that I would never, ever, ever do what I had “done,” in the dream — tossing her bodily out a window, telling her that I wouldn’t keep her any more, and that I didn’t love her.
We were both in tears, Audrey apologizing with sobs, and me holding her close and loving on her, making a mental note that perhaps she needs more attention from me… Since I do structured school with the boys, and Fiala is the “baby,” honestly, Audrey gets short shrift many days.
Audrey, who thinks she is the bomb, quite certain that her external prettiness is the trump card that allows her to do anything, only very, very rarely acknowledges her sin — not too surprising for a four-year-old. She then leveled me by telling me that she was afraid the dream would come back because her heart was “crooked” and her crooked heart would tell her brain what to dream, and her brain would tell her thoughts, and that she would dream the bad dream again. We then had the most heart-to-heart talk ever, about how only Jesus can come in and heal crooked hearts and make them soft and kind, and that He can bring His goodness to her brain and her thoughts, and that He LOVES it when little girls ask His forgiveness, and that He delights to come in and fix crooked hearts…
Part of me wanted to assure her that her heart wasn’t crooked; it breaks my heart to think of a preschool-aged wisp of a beautiful girl bearing anguish over her “crooked” heart. However, I fully remember when I was four, and one Sunday morning, somehow, in an instant, becoming aware of the blackness of my sin, and feeling the weight and the depth of the guilt of it, and knowing that I needed salvation. Though I was only four, the absolute tearful, distraught conviction I felt needed a true… release, a true healing, and I’m so glad that my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Hammons, took me very seriously, and tenderly took me onto her knee and led me in prayer confessing my sin and asking for Jesus to come into my heart.
I just knew that Audrey didn’t need reassurance from me. She needed Jesus.
It was beyond touching, how very sincere she was, and how she obviously felt the depth of her error, and how she acknowledged that it was beyond her, and how relieved she honestly was, that Jesus would come in and heal her. She prayed a sweet, simple, heart-felt prayer, asking Jesus to forgive her for saying ugly things about her Mommy, for lying (she even threw in a bonus confession for another lie I didn’t know she had told), and asked Jesus to heal her crooked heart.
Then, as Audrey and I tearfully clung to each other, from the other side of the house, Fiala started throwing up.
I wrapped up things as quickly as I could with Audrey, ran past the boys at the kitchen table, wiping my eyes, and burst into the girls’ room, where, sure enough, there was my little two-year-old, in tears and muck, saying that she had “hiccuped yuck.”
I got her cleaned up, and Audrey sat with Fiala, singing sweet songs to her while I changed Fiala’s sheets and started the load of laundry…
Twenty minutes later or so, after I had tucked both girls in for the night, and re-prayed for both of them, I left the room with a sigh and a prayer of my own for their sleep to be peaceful in every way.
I stepped back into the living area of our home, and my 11 year old, Grant, piped up, “Can Wes and I take turns playing on the computer?”
Not, “How’s Fiala?” No, not a word of concern for either sister… just looking for the computer time he always feels is “due” to him.
I had to work hard to keep my voice even-keeled, as I expressed to him that I understood that though he has a hard time with empathy for others, he needs to understand that absolutely no empathy is really not acceptable, and that if he can’t bring himself to care about others who are spanked or crying or throwing up, the least he could do is just keep his mouth shut.
Perhaps I over-reacted. I was just gob-smacked that, after coming up from the depths of emotion and deep spiritual issues and tears and throw-up, Grant’s first thought was, “I want computer time.”
Still, I think it was a good night.
Now, I’ll go eat my dinner and read a book.