It is Monday morning, and my daughter drags into the kitchen. She sits on a bar stool, slumps her shoulders, and casts her eyes down at the bowl of Cheerios I slide in front of her.
She moans and groans and tells me how tired she is. Part of me is irritated. I need her to step it up because I have four kids to get to school in thirty minutes. I don’t have time for this.
But then I remember – I get tired, too. And like me, this child really needs her sleep. So instead of rushing her, I take a minute to let her wake up.
“I get it,” I tell her, remembering the many times I’ve struggled to get out of bed. “Mornings can be hard for me, too.”
It is Wednesday afternoon, and I can tell by the look on my daughter’s face as she walks toward my car that she’s upset. As she buckles her seatbelt, she blurts out what’s troubling her.
Once again she didn’t place in the school art contest. Once again her friend won first place.
With a bitter tinge in her voice, she complains that it’s not fair. Part of me wants to correct my child. I want to tell her to be happy for her friend.
But then I remember – I get jealous, too. And being jealous of a friend is the hardest kind to overcome.
“I get it,” I tell her, remembering the times I’ve felt overshadowed. “You worked hard on that piece, and I know you wanted to place. I get jealous of my friends sometimes, too.”
It is Sunday, and on the way to church I argue with my daughter because she didn’t brush her teeth like I asked. We’ve had this argument so often I feel compelled to describe how her mouth will look when her teeth begin to rot.
During the church service I think about our argument, and I feel bad about being so harsh. I wish I’d controlled my tongue. I lean over to my daughter and whisper an apology.
She shakes her head and pushes me away. She’s mad and not ready to forgive me. Part of me is hurt. I want closure to ease my guilt.
But then I remember – I need time when I’m mad, too. Forgiveness isn’t always instantaneous.
“Okay,” I say, kissing her head and giving her space. “I get it.” I ask God to forgive me and to work in her heart so that arguments like this don’t build walls between us.