Why You Shouldn't Give Up, Mama

Author's Note:  This is from Treasure the Ordinary's Archives, and is even more profound to me today than when I wrote it.  The boy in this story was 13 then.  He's now 18 and will be leaving home this next year... 

With four children entrusted to my care, I spend a lot of my time teaching.  How to tie shoes.  How to ride a bike.  How to drive a car.  How to match your clothes.  How to start the dishwasher.   The list goes on and on, right into the more important things.

How to forgive.  How to use your words to bless.  How to pray.  How to stop gossip.  How to strengthen yourself in the Lord.

I've been teaching these precious ones for fifteen years now, so I'm comfortable in my role as teacher.  I'm not always so comfortable in my role as student.  And that's where I found myself this week, as my son became the teacher.

It was Sunday evening and we were about to have thirty people making s'mores in our backyard for an end of the season softball party.  I was running behind in my preparations and feeling the crunch.  Somewhere in the midst of opening dozens of chocolate wrappers, my second son asked what was for dinner.  My response was less than gracious.

"It's Sunday night.  I don't cook on Sunday nights.  Just eat whatever you find in the fridge."

There was a long pause as he rummaged around in the fridge, then the freezer.  Pulling out a box of frozen taquitos, he asked how long he would need to warm them up.  I mumbled something in reply about that not being the easiest thing he could have chosen.

"What?" he asked me, leaning forward to try to catch my eyes.

"Nothing," I said, turning away from him, "Just follow the directions and do it quick so we can clean up the kitchen."

Definitely not an award-winning mommy moment.  And then, when the overpowering smell of taquitos filled the kitchen a few minutes later, it got worse.

"Great," I muttered loud enough for him to hear, "Just what I needed--that weird smell greeting our guests when they arrive."

My thirteen year old leaned forward once more, caught my gaze, and calmly said, "Mom, if you wanted to grump about that, you should have done it three minutes ago when I asked you what I should eat."

I looked at those sincere eyes, eyes that didn't hold one trace of disrespect, and burst out laughing.  He was so insanely and completely right.  And I was so in the wrong.

I apologized.  He accepted, smiled, and moved on to eat his taquitos, clean up after himself, and then ask how he could help me get ready for the party.

I realized later as I mulled it over that my teaching is working. I've invested hours and hours of my time teaching my children how to address conflict while still honoring the other person.  I've had countless conversations

with them about how to recognize emotional manipulation and how to refrain from bowing to its yoke.  I've poured into them the skills and words it's going to take for them to navigate the waters of taking responsibility for what is yours, but not picking up false responsibility for what others do or say that you can not change.

And they're learning.  They're learning well.

 They're learning so well that my son handled my irritation and impatience with a grace that can only come from someone who has come to value and fight for right relationships in his home.  And I've never been prouder as a mother, even if I won't be buying taquitos anymore.