A lesson in grace, taught by Alexis

My 16-month old daughter understands unconditional love far better than me. She has this sense of compassion that could put the "holiest" of saints to shame. I can see her growing into a fine young woman who fully understands the call of Christ on her life. She is so beautiful, so caring, such a joy to everyone she comes into contact with. I am honoured to call her mine, but she isn't really mine. She belongs to Jesus, He just entrusted us to look after her and raise her. What an honour. What a responsibility.

I sometimes wonder why God chose Corey and I to be the parents to Alexis. Every parent thinks their kid is special I know, but this kid IS special. What's so amazing is that she is so kind and considerate and loving even when we don't always model this to her. Don't get me wrong, Corey and I want the very best for our children and we are trying the absolute best we can, but we don't always get it right. Sometimes I get things wrong, very wrong. I'm selfish, I'm hormonal, I'm rude, and I change my mind at the drop of a hat. I'm trying to improve but I have bad days as we all do. Sometimes all I can say to excuse the trash that comes out of my mouth is "I'm so sorry, I was wrong, please forgive me." Praise God that Corey always forgives me and so does Alexis.

Today has been a bad day. I've tried very hard to make it a good day, and good has come from today, but it's been a struggle. I haven't felt well, I've been tired, these hormones are driving me insane, and I've had to fight the urge to spend the day curled up in the foetal position with a bottle (that rum in the cupboard is looking pretty good but I know too much about the dangers of alcohol to a growing foetus). 

There's been times I haven't paid Alexis as much attention as I'd like to because I've been too busy cleaning or being stuck in the bathroom or busy with my own ideas of what she might like to do or being cranky.  This is all because I'm trying too hard to be up and happening and to be a good wife and mum. It seems that some days the harder I try the harder I fall. Some days I should just give up.

This morning we had just hung the clothes  on the line and I wanted to keep her outside doing something fun because I'm trying to limit the amount of time she's pestering me to turn the tv on for her. She loves playing playdoh but the stuff we bought her has disappeared bit by bit and the little she had left had finally dried up. So I decided we would make her own. I have been wanting to make our own for ages but first we didn't have salt (we don't put salt in our food, perioid), and yesterday we had no plain flour.  I had asked Corey to get some on his way home from work yesterday while he was already getting bread and milk. He got everything else so I assumed he had. So this morning I said to Alexis, "yay, let's make play dough".    

While I was trying to convince her to come inside with me she was pulling her clam shell out of its "hiding place" and trying to convince me to fill it with water for her. I have not yet discovered how to adequately explain that it is too cold and that the water tank is dry, so, trying anyway, I didn't pay much attention to the following tantrum as she threw herself on the ground in protest as I tried to pick her up to take her inside.    

I then passed her cries off as being just disappointed that she couldn't go swimming, as I searched high and low for this flour. I thought making playdoh would distract her. I rang Corey, which I know I shouldn't do, but I was just hoping he'd be able to quickly tell me where he put it. He hadn't bought flour. Ok no biggy. But because it was a day when everything is in fact a biggy, I got cross. Now I was most disappointed that instead of saying "sorry sweetheart I forgot," he said “you didn't ask me to buy flour". Instead of thinking he was just tired and stressed yesterday and letting it slide I had to prove him wrong so I checked the email history and clear as day it said "can you please buy milk, bread and flour on your way home or would you like me to do it?" I was upset he tried to make it my fault but also because I was so looking forward to making dough with Alexis. It should not have been a big deal though. 

As explained in my last post, "is your marriage baby proof", I know deep down that my husband forgetting to buy flour doesn't mean he hates me, but if I'm honest with myself, sometimes it does feel like it. It shouldn't, but expecting a pregnant toddler-wrangler to be logical and rational at all times is, well, illogical and irrational. So I had a little meltdown about how unfair life is at times. A pity party for me. Alexis started crying. “It’s ok sweety, mummy’s not mad at you,” I explained, “mummy’s just sad”. I set her up with her toothpasted toothbrush (random but she loves it and she’s really good at cleaning her teeth and while she’s teething AGAIN it relieves the pressure) while I had a little lie down. She allowed me to indulged in a few minutes of sooking before she started crying again. I lifted her up on to the bed and she gave me a cuddle. “She is so sweet”, I thought to myself. Then I noticed….

I had been too selfish to notice that her knee was in fact bleeding. She had grazed her knee outside. I hadn’t realised for so long. No wonder the poor little darling was crying. I felt so terrible. “Oh sweety, I’m sorry I’ve been a bad mummy today. Please forgive me?” that was all I could say. Do you know what she did? She kissed me. She leaned over and kissed my forehead, so sweet and gentle, like we do for her when she falls down. She knew her mummy was sad and she wanted to make it better. She pat me on the back. Without words she was saying, “it’s ok mummy, Alexis is here. I love you”. It is a moment I never want to forget.

She was a little upset while I put savlon and a bandaid on her sore knee but she was more upset because she wanted to play with the bandaid. I would love to give her a spare bandaid, but they are so expensive (we buy the pretty princess ones). Also I had her in the high chair (where she couldn’t run away) with a juice and a chocolate muffin (guilty mummy much!?) to try to keep her distracted and I didn’t want her thinking the bandaid was food… My distractions failed, of course, and I suddenly absolutely had to go to the toilet (of course, why not), so I resorted to the TV as a much better distraction. I actually let her watch Yo Gabba Gabba, what is the world coming to?

I then realised she was tired, so tried to put her to bed without reading stories. Reading stories is part of our bedtime routine, but she won’t just let us read a book or two, she usually makes us read a dozen books, or two dozen. So I put her lullabys on and snuggled into bed with her. This is what we’ve been doing lately and it has been working for us. She wanted to play with the blinds for a while (unfortunately the ONLY place her bed fits is against the window) and I let her, still feeling a little guilty. I decided to fake sleep and see how that went. So I lay there still as can be with my eyes closed. She noticed. Normally she wakes me when I fall asleep before her but today she was so cute. She stumbled over, pulled up the sheet and doona, and covered me up. She tucked me in!!! Then she kissed me goodnight and slid off the side of the bed.

She then chose a few books from her bookshelf, walked them over, placed them up on the bed, and tried to climb up on to the bed. This is where she came unstuck though because her knee was sore. So she cried out. I obviously stopped pretending to be asleep at this point and helped her onto the bed. We snuggled and read stories. Then it was time for her to try to go to sleep. I took the books away. She often cries when she knows it’s time to go to sleep but today she didn’t. I don’t know why, but she didn’t play up at all. She rolled up on her side, stroked my face, then closed her eyes and started snoring. Honestly I am not making this up.

This kid is amazing. She is going to be such a good big sister. She is going to be the best mother one day. One day she is going to make some handsome young man the luckiest man in the world. She is going to be the sort of person that people want to be around, in fact she already is. She teaches me every day. I have learned far more from her in the last 16 months than I can ever hope to teach her. I was upset at my husband for forgetting flour, yet she forgave me for neglecting her pain and discomfort. I was feeling down for being a terrible mum, yet she showed me love. I should have been comforting her but she was comforting me. I saw a glimpse of the heart of Christ today, through my little girl.

Throughout my pregnancy with Alexis and ever since her birth Corey and I have always prayed, “God, this baby is yours. Help us raise her. Help her love and feel loved. Let her know you so deeply on a personal level.” That is the one good thing we have ever done for her, to acknowledge that we are not perfect but that our God is. We are human, painfully so, but God is perfect. We are weak, but God is strong. We struggle, but God is able. He is growing her into an amazing young woman, perhaps despite our frailties or perhaps even because of them. Maybe He chose us because we knew we weren’t good enough? Through this journey God is teaching me too, that although what I do is important and I should always try my best, He is in control.

But he (The Lord) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)