Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Humbling Bedtime Story

We snuggled into the couch together, Addie pressed right up against my side as we started reading our book for the night.  

She had picked a Veggie Tales book, and I was not in the mood to read it.  I wasn't in the mood to read ANY book.  

Bedtime had not gone smoothly for the little two, who usually go to bed first.  Chloe's diaper rash had her writhing and screaming and resisting sleep.  Or maybe it was the teething.  Either way, she was cranky.  Brody wet his pants as soon as I got his jammies on him.  It was his third accident of the day, and I was out of understanding and patience for it.  As much as I want bedtime to be this sweet, meaningful time with my kids, there are nights like tonight when I go through the motions as quickly as I can, and put them to bed without much tenderness at all.

Once the little two are in bed, I start the bedtime routines with the older girls.  This night, Emma was dragging out homework as long as possible, which was frustrating to me since it was getting late.  Addie was getting whiny.  As I sat on the couch waiting for Addie to bring me just ONE story instead of the stack of SEVEN she insisted on, I finally just grabbed one out of her hands and blurted, "Come on!  This one will work.  Let's go!"

But just then, the girls started fighting over a balloon.  Lately they've been into drawing silly faces on balloons and playing with them.  It's fine with me, until the ink starts getting all over everything and then the girls forget about the balloons and they just sit around inking everything up (you should've seen Chloe's face yesterday!).  For whatever reason, this forgotten balloon under the coffee table caught their eye and they started fighting over it.  At that point, I lost it.  I grabbed the balloon, squeezed it with all my might until it popped and threw it on the floor.  It was a fine display.  I felt really mature at that moment.  It was somewhat reminiscent of the Pink Plate incident of '08.

Emma was stunned.  Speechless, she walked back into the office to finish her homework.  Addie, on the other hand, was beside herself.  "That was my FAVORITE balloon EVER!!!!!!" she wailed.  I was exasperated.  

"Sit down and read this with me NOW or just go straight to bed," I growled.


We snuggled into the couch together, Addie pressed right up against my side as we started reading our book for the night.  

I could feel her sobbing as I started the story.

She had chosen - or rather, I had chosen, when I grabbed it from her hands - a Veggie Tales book called, "What's Up With Lyle?"

I read through the book, counting down the pages until the end.  Until bedtime. 

Finally... the last page.  Finally, thought Bad Attitude Girl. 

Oh.  Crap.  Like in a scene from a movie, the whole night flashed before my eyes and I realized that I'd acted exactly opposite of how Paul instructs us to in this verse.  Here I was, with a great verse to wrap up this book before bedtime, and I was the last person on earth worthy of helping Addie to understand it.

Except, I was probably just the right person.  

The silence after I read that verse to her seemed to last forever.  I lifted her on my lap to face me and held her chin in my hands.  She started crying all over again before I said a word.  I explained to her how I'd acted wrongly:  I'd been prideful.  I'd not been gentle.  I was impatient and not very loving with her.

She was quick to agree with me.  Ouch.

And then I asked her if she'd forgive me.  She tearfully nodded and threw her arms around my neck.  We hugged for a minute or two, and I felt so inadequate.  But I knew that everything was right.  

Being tired at the end of the night is no excuse for me to get short and snippy with them.  Yelling at them or having unreasonable expectations does not teach them gentleness.  When I start spinning out of control and acting like I'M the five year old, all I'm left with is equally out of control kids, and a sick feeling in my stomach.  

It turns out Addie hadn't picked out the book.  I hadn't picked out the book when I grabbed it out of her hands.  No, God picked out the book.  For me.

It's hard to swallow my pride and admit to my kids when I've been a big ugly jerk (and here I am admitting it to all the internets!).  I know that if I'm not careful, I'm going to crush them and lose their hearts. 

It's time for me to ask God for help (daily! hourly!), print out this verse, and display it where it can be a constant reminder to me.  Anyone else out there in the same boat?  

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."
Ephesians 4:2


  1. Oh my goodness Angie, I think God picked out this blog for me to read! I needed that reminder big time. Lately I have been parenting angry more and more. Thanks for posting this!!!!

  2. thats a great reminder to be patient i know i've lost my temper a few times i'm writing that verse down :)

  3. Good post! I almost cried! I'm the same way, way too often, and usually it's at bedtime. Because I want them to go to bed so I can finally be alone. But years ago, I was alone all the time, and begged God for a child to fill my life. :sigh: Yes, I'm aware how horrible that is, LOL. Whenever I apologize for snapping at Gray (or -metaphorically- popping his balloon), he always says immediately, "I forgive you!" He is so sweet and forgiving; he never holds anything against me.
    Wish we could sit & chat together about these things.
    Oh, here's a tip, if you want it. The boys love to draw faces on their balloons, too (the in-laws just brought a bag of balloons over last week- funny coincidence!), and I don't let them use their regular markers to do it. I make them use sharpies---WITH SUPERVISION, of course! Don't want worse problems! The Sharpies, once dry, don't rub ink all over the place.

  4. I'm very quick tempered these days & my fuse is so short it seems. Thanks for posting this. It's a good reminder for all of us parents :)

  5. your post brought tears to my eyes Ang. I'm bailing water out of that sinking boat right there with you...I'll pray right along with you too though and maybe we can jump ship together. You are not alone friend and I'm thankful for these good words of truth and your humble heart that shared them. we better bring some tissues poolside. : )

  6. Can I join your boat? I SO needed to hear this tonight, Angie. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. My patience has been VERY thin lately and I've not felt good about myself at the end of the day. Ephesians 4:2 is going on my fridge, to remind me during those tough times! Love you!

  7. Thank you for posting this and for being so honest in your humility. Not only did reading this today help with bedtime, but it also helped with naps, dinner, baths....being patient is H.A.R.D. Thanks for the reminder to strive to be more and more like Jesus. Love you Angie!

  8. Sounds like our nights sometimes! Thanks for sharing this- full of good reminders for me too!!

  9. GREAT post Angie!! I love when God speaks up if we forget to listen ;)

  10. Hi I don't know you but I just happened upon your blog and I am very thankful I did! I too am not doing well at bedtime when it comes to patience. Thank you for your post it reminds me of what is really important about being a mommy!

  11. I can so relate!!! It is hard doing bedtime alone most of the time and I just want a break sometimes and get crabby and loose my temper with them. Thanks for being so honest! I miss you friend:)


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