Lessons of grace in this job that is so very, very hard

The other day I was reading with David and I put my arm around him and said, “David, do you know Mommy loves you so much?”

He looked up at me and replied, “But, Mommy. Sometimes you say…you say…you say that…”

He started to stutter as he searched for the right word. I held my breath; I wasn’t sure what he was gearing up for.

“Mommy, sometimes you say that you don’t want me to grow up.”

I exhaled — relief. Because, really, he could have said anything.

Once I told him he was being a bully. He was standing in the living room holding a toy over Mary Virginia’s head, laughing, while she cried and jumped for it. Like a bully.

A few hours later, David told me it hurt his feelings that I had called him a bully. I’ll admit, part of me thought, GOOD! You should feel bad because YOU WERE BEING A BULLY! And another part of me felt horrible, terrible, like the worst mom ever.

We sat together and I apologized, then for as long as his four-year old attention span allowed, we talked about the word “bully.” I tried to explain that he was acting like a bully, but that’s not what he is. What he is is a child of God, made in the image of God, for the glory of God. And around that time he asked me for a granola bar.

And so go lessons with little ones.


My kids forgive easily. Once the tears are dried they get distracted and move on. I’m the one who keeps a record of wrongs. I’m the one who says things like, “You two have been terrible ALL DAY!”

They forgive even when I don’t apologize, even when I choose to stew in my selfishness and turn inward because I have decided my anger is justified! My kids have been crazy all day and I barely slept last night and I made homemade pancakes for breakfast! I DESERVE! I DESERVE!!

They forgive when I choose my temper instead of tenderness, or impatience instead of love; my kids forgive me every single time. When they crawl into my lap just moments after I lose my temper, their tenderness is a reminder that Christ’s grace covers my shortcomings, that he never stops forgiving. Their love reminds me that even on my worst days, God is at work.

These little children, the ones God has entrusted me with, they teach me so much about forgiveness and God’s deep love, vast beyond all measure.

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“When I view motherhood not as a gift from God to make me holy but rather as a role with tasks that get in my way, I am missing out on one of God’s ordained means of spiritual growth in my life. Not only that, but I am missing out on enjoying God.


– Gloria Furman, Treasuring Christ when your Hands are Full


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Nap time is my least favorite time of day. Putting Mary Virginia down for her nap is always, always a battle. Sometimes the battle lasts five minutes, sometime it lasts more than an hour. Either way, I am always tempted to anger, every single time. Mary Virginia always goes down for her nap in a blaze of glory.

By the time she wakes up, she’s a different child. Sleepy and sweet, she rests her head on my shoulder and it’s like nothing ever happened.

“Baby, I’m sorry I yelled at you,” I say.

“Mama I’m sorry you yelled at me, too.”

I don’t have to apologize. After all, she’s two. She doesn’t really understand, and she won’t remember this. But I do have to, because my heart aches for reconciliation; because it’s good for my soul. I hope it’s good for hers, too.

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A most unwelcome milestone

Me, talking to Tom: Did we decide we want to have P-I-Z-Z-A for dinner?

David: Mommy, did you just say “pizza” in letters?

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Month 6

Thomas is six months old, and I can hardly believe it. Six months is when things start to change, it’s the edge of when your baby becomes something entirely different. They start to eat solids, sit up, and soon he will crawl. In no time my sweet little ball of sunshine will be a mobile, expressive, wrecking ball.


Thomas isn’t doing any of those things quite yet, and he isn’t destructive or opinionated. When I give him sweet potato he might spit it out but he doesn’t tear at his clothes and dissolve into a puddle of anguish. He is 20 pounds and 29 and a half inches of pure delight.

Everyone who meets him comments on how happy, how charming he is. And he is.

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Here’s an example of what a pleasant baby he is. When he starts to get tired, he starts laughing more. He gets edgy, kind of manic. It’s easy to make him cry or laugh, but mostly he just laughs — sweet, guttural, hysterical laughs. And, sure, I’d much rather he say, “Hey, mom, I’m about ready to turn in for my 2 o’clock snooze.” That’d be better, but I’ll take spastic laughing over screaming any day.

Thomas is a wonder, a delight, and so much fun to have around. He’s all of our favorite. Every morning when Thomas wakes up, David runs to his room to play with him in his crib, and Mary Virginia scours the house for toys to toss at him.

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All Thomas does all day long is smile and try to get things in his mouth. Toys, paper, my lips — Thomas does not discriminate. If he can reach it, he wants it. Sometimes he even chews on his toes, which I think is the most adorable of all the baby habits.

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When nothing is available, Thomas presses his face to the floor and sucks on the carpet. From the moment he wakes up, he stretches his hands out looking for something, anything to grab.

I’m sure you’ve already guessed that Brigham is thrilled about this development.

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Thomas is my third baby, so there’s plenty to grab. Our floor is never, ever clean. Ten minutes before I sat down to write this I asked the kids to clean up. Even after they did, within three feet of me there are four library books, at least 10 Hot Wheels, a rubber duck, a Cinderella purse, and a super hero mask. That all means my mission in life has been updated from “Keep Toddlers Away From Baby” to “Keep Baby Away From Choking Hazards.”

Thomas isn’t crawling yet, so keeping him away from teeny toys isn’t that hard. The fact that this afternoon Mary Virginia placed a piece of popcorn directly into his hand is a different matter entirely.

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Thomas isn’t moving yet, but he’s starting to think about it. He’s happy on his belly as long as he has a toy or seven to play with. When he doesn’t have a toy, he’s learned to pivot until he can find one. He’s even started to lift his chest and torso.

Today when Tom got home from work he noticed Thomas on the ground and said, “Did he just crawl sort of? It looked like he moved himself forward.”

And in that moment I considered all the work that comes with a crawling baby — the baby proofing, the dumped bins — and I reactively shook my head and said, “NOPE! Definitely not crawling yet!”

Not crawling. Not yet. But this kid is six months old, which means everything is all about to change.

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Dear Thomas,

Preschool mornings are particularly tough for you. You barely have time to wake up and eat and the next thing you know you’re in the van. All morning there’s a lot of in and out of the car, and interrupted naps, and Mommy fussing at the big kids to STOP FUSSING. You’re a great sport, but I know you’d rather spend the morning drinking coffee and watching the Today Show on the couch. Me too, kiddo, me too.

One day last week I had picked your brother and sister. I was buckling their straps while they bickered and fought for my attention, and I noticed you. You were quiet in your seat, holding your hand up in the sun. You turned it slowly, this way and that, watching how it caught the light and shadows. I paused in that hectic moment and I noticed you.

Just then you and I were thinking the same thing: It’s magic.



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