There are times I love my kids so much I think that my heart is going to explode. Kissing their round little cheeks, hearing Reuben tell corny knock-knock jokes, having Ozzy wildly cackle when he wins Candy Land. I marvel at the gifts they are to me and how full my life is with them.
There are other times where I think my heart is going to explode with the frustration, drudgery and battle of wills with my kids. Seeing the sassy look on Ozzy’s face when he refuses to pick up the toys I’ve told him to pick up 8 times, the moody slump of Reuben when he overreacts to coloring his drawing with the wrong crayon. The wild cackle of Ozzy when he’s drawn with sharpie on our couch. Have I mentioned that wild cackle? Delightful and devilish depending on the day.
I was thinking about the words of 1 Corinthians 13 today- you know, that scripture that pretty much everyone has read at their wedding. Standing together with a glow of eager expectancy for the magical journey of marriage to begin, the bride and groom gaze at each other like a hot air balloon is going to float them to their own private cloud coocoo land of love. And then the words kick in: “love is patient” when your husband has clogged the toilet and whats that? You don’t have a plunger because you didn’t put it on the wedding registry? And it’s 11 at night? Love is mostly just annoyed and gross at that moment. And you wonder, “sh*t, how many gross poos like this am I going to have to deal with in marriage? This literally stinks.”
And then the words kick in even more when you have kids; love is patient when you are holding a thrashing, screaming child who is acting like the apocalypse is upon us because you GAVE THEM A BANANA FOR A SNACK!!!! EVIL MOTHER!!!! What am I a marsupial or CHILD??!!! I DEMAND MARSHMALLOWS AND RAISINS!!!! Which is what I call TRAIL MIX!!! AAAAAHHHHHH!!!! THE HORRORRRRRR!!!!
Love is kind. When you are a good mom and trying to help your kids become more self-sufficient by teaching them skills like putting their own shoes on, clearing the dinner table and putting the dishes in the dishwasher. Brushing ones teeth instead of smearing toothpaste all over the mirror. Love is kind the first time you say, “honey, put your shoes on, you’re such a big boy! Show me how you can do it!” and the second time when you say “hmm, I still see your shoes, please put them on, it’s time to go.” And the third time when you start to get a little more snippy and say, “You need to put your shoes on. I don’t want to tell you again.” And then there are a couple more rounds of that until you are shoving your kids feet into their shoes while they clutch a spiderman figurine in their hands and are singing “Let it Go.”
Love keeps no record of wrongs and is never rude. Man, I’m just a big jerk when it comes to this one. The list of wrongs spans the wholllllllle day and I feel entitled to some “me time” at the end of the day when I can work out, watch tv, drink a glass of wine or a hot mug of tea and sit in blissful silence because the day has been a battle of wills, negotiations, snuggles, lots and lots of rounds of Candy Land and saying yes, please be patient honey, mommy is getting it for you…. The day might have gone really heart exploding with love well or heart exploding in frustration poorly. But the words don’t change.
Love never gives up. Never loses faith. Is always hopeful. And endures every circumstance.
I often forget that God can actually help me with these things. I don’t need to conjure up this kind of love myself- he can give it to me. Scripture also says that God’s love never fails. That is really good news for me because my love fails the moment that juice is spilled on the floor that I just mopped. It’s ridiculously conditional. But slowly, slowly slowly and a lot of times begrudgingly God is changing my heart to have more of the never giving up, enduring every circumstance kind of love. He gives me the words like 1 Corinthians 13 to remind me that he can actually help me be a patient, hopeful mom no matter what is happening, no matter what I feel or what my kids are or aren’t doing.
Today, smack in the middle of Christmas vacation I’m trying to channel less of Clark Griswold; “We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f*#%ing Kaye!!”And praying to ask for a little more of the Jesus-y, not irritable, keep no record of wrongs, always hopes in every circumstance kind of love.