Monday, March 15, 2010

When grace loses face

Sometimes I have a hard time dealing with frustration gracefully. Frustration has become a pretty constant factor in my life with three rambunctious boys who operate at a different speed than my own. I'm still learning how to get a better handle on handling disappointment. Today, for instance, was one of those days that my frustration cup overfloweth.

It's spring break. Winter's icy chill is finally thawing around here. The snow is gone, but the early hours are still cold enough to see your breath. My three sons wanted to take a walk this morning. It took 20 minutes to get socks, shoes and winter gear on. It took another five minutes to get my oldest into his protective bike armor and fish the push cart out of the depths of the garage for my 4-year-old. By the time I had my toddler in the stroller and the other two ready to shove off, everyone was tired of waiting on everyone else. Cabin fever had us all jittery. With high spirits and too much energy, we started off. 

One minute later and five steps past the neighbor's house two things happened simultaneously: The pedal on my son's bike broke, and my middle son ran his cart into the back of my foot. As his cart lurched to a halt, he went skidding across the pavement on his knees. All pandemonium broke loose. My oldest wanted me to fix the broken pedal while my 4-year-old woke the neighborhood up with his screams. 

At this point I could have told my biker child to wait while I comforted my middle son with hugs and kisses until the tears stopped. Then I could have gone back to the garage and spent 10 minutes hunting through the mess to find the right tool to fix the bike before attempting the walk again.

I didn't do that. Instead, I ordered everyone to turn around and go home, in a not-so-nice voice.

My oldest wheeled his bike back to the garage while I tried to turn the stroller around and gather up my screaming 4-year-old and the offending cart. On our 1-minute-and-five-step-walk back, I was wishing I could duplicate myself. Sometimes the parent-to-child ratio feels overwhelmingly unbalanced in our family. That's when my grace loses face, and I start muttering to myself. It's on those days that I wish parents got do-overs.

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