I should have known better.
When Miss Innocent One plopped down in my office and said she was going to do her math homework there "in case she had any questions," I should have shut my laptop and given her my full attention.
It's just that my day had already been interrupted by an impromptu visit to the doctor for "splinter removal," and school had gotten out early and we had to pick up Ladies Man's new glasses and he needed some things from Walmart.
I should have known, but instead I typed away, hoping to finish in time to make supper and get to Bible study. But she kept having questions, kept interrupting my train of thought, and though I helped her, my inconvenienced, annoyed attitude came through loud and clear.
To add to the commotion, Kevin came home early and joined us in the office. Soon Ladies Man came in to get a glimpse of Kevin's splinter-less hand, all the while I'm trying to keep my cool and answer questions about math. When Kevin couldn't find the antibiotic ointment, I lumbered down the stairs to help him and whispered my frustration through clenched teeth.
She's driving me crazy. I can't get anything done.
I got him fixed up and wandered back upstairs to find Miss Innocent One in a major huff.
Miss Innocent One: You're making me feel like a stupid idiot.
Me: What did I do to make you feel like a stupid idiot? I'm helping you! Let's just get this done.
Miss Innocent One (still fuming): This is stupid. I stink at math.
Me: No you don't. Come on, let's finish this.
Miss Innocent One (as loud as she gets): I don't want to do this!
She threw her pencil and stomped out of the room. Now math gets her goat consistently, but this outburst was VERY uncharacteristic of her. She only had three problems left so I pushed her to come back and finish. She did, but not with the best attitude and as soon as we were done, she stomped back to her bedroom. I gave her some space. A few minutes later she wandered back to my office to ask a different question.
Me: Are you okay, honey? Why did you get so upset?
Miss Innocent One (tears welling): Just frustrated, I guess.
Me: Are you sure there isn't more to it?
Miss Innocent One (still holding back the dam): I don't know.
Me (figuring it out): Did you hear what I said to Dad?
She nodded slowly, still willing away the tears.
And I felt like the worst mother on the face of the globe. When will I learn I don't have to utter everything that crosses my brain? Why didn't I remember to give her the time first and I'd be less frustrated in the long run? How could I make it right?
Me: I'm sorry, honey. I was just frustrated. I don't think you're a stupid idiot. Not at all. I should have stopped what I was doing to help you and we would have been done sooner. It's my fault. I'm sorry. Do you forgive me?
She nodded and I walked over to give her a hug, apologizing again. She is gracious and loving and doesn't hold grudges, but I still kicked myself around for my own stupidity. And I could have stayed there, wallowing in my mothering mistake, not allowing myself any slack, being stuck in the mire of my mind. But what does that do? How would that help this situation? What good is accomplished?
Instead I chose to be thankful, for a gracious daughter, who is WAY more kind and compassionate than I am, for forgiveness, for resolution to an ugly situation. I thanked Him for giving me words to say and prayed for Him to heal my daughter's tender heart.
And I thanked Him that I had this bad scene as reference and motivation to do better the next time.
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