I stumbled through the basics, and I think I got them fairly right. But then that little girl grew and started being able to do things on her own, and when that happens, well, you know, things happen. Messes happen. Accidents happen. We get to potty training and teaching our kids how to be helpful by carrying things. But then we forget that they are still little and that they still make mistakes. Heck. We forget that we make mistakes.
And suddenly that little accident is some huge deal. And you may find yourself screaming at a two-year old who just maybe accidentally dropped something important. Like the phone in the toilet. Or even something unimportant. Like an open cup of juice. Please tell me I’m not the only parent who has done that.
Thankfully, I finally figured out that we can’t always cry over spilled milk. Because sometimes the spilled milk was an accident (well, we hope…). And sometimes the kid just doesn’t know any better–like when she bites her big sister in the butt (true story). Really, how important is it that your kids’ clothes match or are on backwards (daily struggle in our house) as long as they are wearing all the clothes they need to be wearing? And sometimes those mistakes and those accidents are little lessons that need to be taught the hard way. Maybe they will have to visit the fracture clinic to have a cast put on their leg after hurting themselves, but they’ll learn that those are the consequences of refusing to ride their bike with the stabilizers they still need. Because maybe your kid wasn’t going to learn the easy way. Some kids are like that.
As I sit here writing this I feel like I have to teach my kids themselves not to be the ones not to cry over spilled milk. Like when the 9-week old puppy nips one of the kids on the finger, because he doesn’t know not to bite yet. And if you give your phone to your almost-2-year-old cousin, don’t get upset when he throws it. And, really, you’re not gonna die if your sister touches you. Sometimes those lessons are hard to teach to the kids when you are struggling yourself. Because just last week, I’m pretty sure I threw a bit of a temper tantrum (oops).
Last night I had a conversation with a 6-year old little girl during the Ash Wednesday sermon (sorry, Pastor). About sin and about heaven and about grace. Because that little girl wanted to know if we will still go to Heaven if we make mistakes.
Thinking about that, I just remembered that I can give my kids some grace, because Jesus has given me overflowing grace. What I realized as I wrote this post is that all this time we get on our kids for making mistakes. Sure, we get better at handling them, but still we don’t offer them grace. When what we’ve given is a grace that surpasses all of our shortcomings. Like we need forgiveness for our daily mistakes. Like when we have a temper tantrum.
Nowadays I do my best to take a long deep breath before I react over a mistake or an accident. And next time, while I’m taking that breath, I hope I will remember that God’s grace overflows onto me, through me, and onto my kids. And maybe, just maybe…we’ll all learn not to cry over spilled milk.