Yesterday morning, in the madness of getting out the door for mass, I watched something so simple and beautiful it couldn’t be anything but love.
I watched my husband teach Gus to button his shirt. First he demonstrated, moving slowly and explaining what he was doing. Then he put the task into terms Gus could understand–Legos. Finally, he encouraged Gus to try, coached him gently, reassured him, and broke into wild applause when the button successfully slipped through the hole.
Bernadette, who was also standing and watching, got swept up in the excitement and turned to me yelling, “He did it! He did it!”
He did it. It was a beautiful moment. Gus beamed and moved onto the next button.
But, I felt a little sad. I wish I had been the one patiently sitting next to him as he learned to button his shirt. I am, after all, the one that gets him dressed most mornings. I have asked him to try buttons before but at the first sign of difficulty, delay or 4 year old angst I jump in, quickly do the buttons myself and send him on his way so I can turn my attention to Dominic and Bernadette.
I want things done quickly, even if I have to do them myself. I’m busy chasing after 3 wild kids and it’s hard to see clearly what I am pushing aside in my mania.
Patience is often were I fail in this life as a mother.
And yet patience is the ultimate hallmark of mothering little ones.
This truth struck me hard a few mornings ago. I was up early attempting to squeeze in a little prayer time before the kids got up. The night before I’d gone to bed disappointed in myself. I’d lost my temper too many times, yelled, overreacted. I didn’t want to live another day as that person.
I was going to love my kids better, I just needed the Lord to show me how.
So I searched for a verse on love to mediate on through Lectio Divina. I read of few verses before coming to the classic, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I’d read it before, heard it (what felt like) too many times before and didn’t expect much but there it was:
“Love is patient”
Love is patient. As always when I ask the Lord for direction and actually give Him a chance to answer he delivers. He delivers with a challenge: To love my children is to be patient.
The best way I have come to understand love is that it is something bigger than me, something that allows me to do things, endure things, forgive things and receive things I would not be strong enough to on my own.
Love is what makes me strong. Love is what fills in the gaps and allows me to get beyond my selfish, sinful nature. Love is what gets me through the day.
Most days the amount of patience required to mother my children is much more than I have.
Sometimes I feel like my head exploding is an actual possibility. Life with the 3 kids 4 and under gets very loud and very demanding. Everyone has a need they want me to address right now! One is screaming because he can’t find a very important very tiny Lego piece. Another is crying because I gave her milk instead of water and the baby is banging his fights on his tray and shouting because he’s out of food and, obviously, starving.
So I run from kid to kid, attending to the biggest mess first, burning meals, buttoning my son’s shirt for him and loosing my tempter. It’s so hard to slow down. It’s hard to accept that I won’t get the breakfast dishes put away before lunch, that we will be late for preschool, again, that I didn’t get to drink my coffee or eat sitting down.
It’s hard to remain calm and think, “this all came from love,” but it did. I love these kids and I want nothing more than to hold them close to me and protect them. And yet they drive me completely nuts and I shout and I yell at these little ones. In the frenzy of the moment the love gets lost or forgotten somehow and other concerns win out–concerns about a clean house, being on time, order and justice.
But, Love is patient. Love looks a little one in the eyes and says, “I hear you.” Love knows what is important and what isn’t. Love slows down, takes a minute and helps a little boy learn to button his own shirt and then revels in the glory of that shared victory.
Paul didn’t write that love is organized or timely or immaculately clean. No, love is patient.
And this week, I hope to be too.
Blessings for you and your little families this week. Take a deep breath with me. Enjoy the moment and let Love take over.