Monday, November 17, 2014

Guest Post: a lesson in hypocrisy(ies) penance required

i walked into my daughter's room to wake her for the day, sat down on her bed and looked over at her math workbook and the goniometer (a math tool) setting there amidst blankets and a million other things, and thought "she's going to lose that in this sh#$hole." 

<i'm so irritated at and frustrated with and overwhelmed by their messes.>

 i awoke her--and in the process of standing up and walking out of her room i made a subconscious choice, followed through mechanically, and forgot what i'd done (which you'll soon realize, which you can probably already guess). 

she came out of her room, we ate breakfast, got started on math; i asked her where her workbook and goniometer were, she promptly found the first but said she couldn't find the latter. 

i promptly told her she had to--couldn't do anything else in fact until she did so (because, i was thinking, she's the one who left it in that pile of crap on her bed). 

she insisted it wasn't there; i insisted it was, i'd seen it when i went in to wake her. she set about searching, high and low (between and under and against and inside and on top of...), in that room--and i didn't help ("why should i" i reasoned internally, "it's her mess, her irresponsibility, and i have other things to do"). 

she was exasperated and upset, and i remained insistent (up on my parental adult-with-authority platform) that she find it, although i did (with pious grace) let her know it wouldn't be needed for a couple days...but after that it would be, so "it better be found before then." 

....and all the while i had a tiny inkling of a thought that maybe i had picked it up and carried it out with me, knowing it'd get lost in the shuffle of sheets and stuff; and a recollection of a time or two or three when i had wrongly accused my kids of losing things and ended up finding them right where i'd set them; and a remembrance of the feeling of remorse after such times and the determination to not do it again ....but i ignored all such thoughts <i'm sorry God for not listening> and plowed ahead with placing blame on summer. 

....and then (later that morning)--i lifted up several items (my items) in a pile (my pile) on the dining room table, and there was the goniometer, right where i'd set it. 

--it's no wonder i had no recollection where i'd put it, my stuff and piles of stuff scattered around the house as they are. 

i apologized, and thought of what i must do to make it right--pay her? buy her a gift? --i felt the need to do penance. but in her face i saw forgiveness, humor even--she laughed at me, and smiled. "you've done it before mom, it's ok." 

and i've been thinking--when my children throw fits (which is what i did), when they act disgusted by me and say unkind things and make false assumptions and take their anger and frustration out on me (all that is uncomfortably personally familiar), and then when they come around (which they always do) and apologize, and i as the adult feel the need to administer punishment--take away a privilege, hang onto my (righteous) anger, require penance? ...or do i smile, maybe even laugh, and forgive, no holds barred, no penance required? 

--do i extend to my children the same grace they give to me?

that is the "footage" i will hold in my mind and heart--the image of my daughter's sweet smile, the sound of her gentle laugh, the feel of her forgiveness and absence of punishing anger, the lack of expectations for penance. and that is the grace i will extend to my children.

by Heather Schopp

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