I drew in a deep breath and then let it out quickly. I pushed my lips firmly together and shut my eyes while I clenched my fists.
Why was I so angry?
It was a pile of toys, for crying out loud. And it was in the basement where the kids are supposed to play with toys.
But I couldn’t let it go. Even though I wanted to, I just felt compelled to make them clean it up before we walked out the door.
They know better. They’ve been warned.
So I called up the steps for the three of them.
“Guys, get down here and clean up this stuff! We’ve got to go and we’re not leaving until it’s picked up!”
My two girls slowly made their way down the steps as if in a depressed stupor. They robotically began to clean up the mess.
And I waited.
Where was their brother? I called up the steps again. I could hear him in the kitchen at the top of the stairs. Certainly he could hear me. Again, I shouted for him to come down, but he did not.
I’d had it.
In my firmest voice I yelled for him and my anger was easily implied in both my tone and my volume.
Karson came down the steps with a confused and hurt look on his face. “What, Mom? What do you want me to do?”
“Are you serious?! I’ve been calling you to come clean up this mess and you’ve been completely ignoring me. Now get to work!”
He lowered his eyebrows in confusion and then squatted down to help his sisters finish clearing the pile.
“Mom, I didn’t hear you. I didn’t know you were calling me.”
I huffed again and then headed up the stairs to get coats and shoes ready for us to head out the door.
As we drove down the road several minutes later the guilt hit me.
I had no reason to yell like I did, and I knew it.
Sure, I had excuses.
My husband had been out of town and I was worn out from taking care of the kids alone for a few days and keeping up with a full schedule. On top of that, I had had this “brilliant” idea to get the kids up that Saturday morning at 6:30 so that we could have an “adventure” and go to the grand opening of a local doughnut shop where the first 100 costumers got free doughnuts for a year. The kids had begged me the previous night to wake them up before dawn that morning so that we could go try to win. I thought it sounded kind of fun and like a great springboard to a special memory (and good doughnuts!) so I set my alarm and we all stood in the freezing cold for an hour and a half that morning.
And we were the 107th in line.
Good things come to those who wait, but these yummy treats and the warm coffee were a long time coming… and not free. But it was a fun morning. And boy were those doughnuts yummy.
Now, as I drove our minivan to my nephews’ basketball games it was only noon, but the kids and I had had our fill of doughnuts, and we were tired.
I tightened my grip on the steering wheel and found Karson in the rearview mirror. I swallowed my pride, as I so often have to do, and said, “Karson, I’m really sorry that I yelled at you in the basement. I thought you heard me ask you to come down and I assumed you were ignoring me. I’m really sorry, bud. Will you forgive me?”
“Yeah. That’s ok.” He said and quickly went back to the conversation he was having with his sister in the backseat.
I thought I’d learned my lesson for the day.
Later in the afternoon as I sat on the top bleacher watching our third basketball game of the afternoon, my sister-in-law climbed back up the bleacher steps and sat back down beside me. She’d gone out to the hall for a few minutes to check on our younger kids who weren’t playing basketball, or watching it for that matter, but were playing together in the hallway all afternoon.
Laura smiled as she sat down and said, “Do you know what happened out there?”
“What? Is everything okay?” I asked.
“Yes, it is now. Karly was upset with Karson about something in the game they were playing in the hallway and she got all worked up and started whining and swinging her arms at him as if she were going to hit him. I stopped and asked her if I needed to bring her to you. Before she could answer, Karson spoke for her. He said, ‘It’s okay, she’s just been up since 6:30.’
Laura laughed with me about how understanding Karson was as a big brother to recognize that his little sister was just tired and needed to be shown some grace.
Outwardly, I agreed with her. Karson was exactly right.
Inwardly, I cringed.
Why couldn’t I have responded to him a few hours earlier in the same graceful way he’d responded to his sister.
I turned my head to watch the basketball game once again but I let my thoughts simmer on Karson’s response for a few moments.
“It’s okay, she’s just been up since 6:30.”
And I realized that our early morning doughnut adventure proved to do more than just make me appear to be a glutton for great sweets.
That day has made me yearn to be a glutton for grace.