As I helped Zoe into bed tonight, I was studying two blankets that were carefully draped over her headboard. She looked at me, removed the blankets and said, "Mom, look." I looked and discovered that, during quiet time, she decided to color her entire headboard with purple crayon. Astonished, I cried, "Zoe!" Her lip immediately pouted and tears welled up in her eyes as she quietly said, "I just wanted it to be purple and not white." The tears became sobs and she fell into my chest as I wrapped my arms around her. Surprisingly, I was not mad- not one bit. Instead I remembered a book we have read often about a little girl who colored her new ice skates pink because white was so boring. I smiled and pulled her little face into my hands and said, "Honey, it is OK to make mistakes. I love you no matter what you do. Thank you for telling me what you did. What are we supposed to color on?" She replied, "Paper." We said a few more words and agreed to keep the crayons downstairs from now on. Still she continued to apologize as I took the magic eraser (seriously, thank you whoever invented that!!) to her headboard. I thanked her for apologizing and told her I knew she was sorry, that what she did was not OK, but that I wasn't mad.
As I tucked her into bed, she kept hugging me. I'm not sure if she was surprised that I wasn't mad and hugging me happily or hugging me for reassurance, but I gave her extra hugs and kisses before bed. She told me she was happy to have a clean blankie and I told her I was so happy to have her. After a song, a few more snuggles and "I love yous," I left her room and she fell asleep quickly.
In those few moments I became leaps and bounds closer to my daughter. I can only imagine her fear as she pulled those blankets off to show me what she had done. I remember having the same fear as a child when I decided to try to cut my own bangs. I know I have failed to be my best self many times as a parent. I yell more than I want to and sometimes say things I regret later. I always apologize, but I live with a lot of guilt as I try to overcome my quick-tempered, natural tendencies.
Tonight, I showed my child mercy, and I gained her trust. I only hope I can keep it as she reveals far worse mistakes as she gets older. I was proud of myself and how I handled it, and thankful that I was able to keep my cool.
A few minutes later, I thought of my Heavenly Father. In order to understand Him better, I often compare parenting children to Him watching over all of us. I think it is the closest I will ever come to truly understanding His love for me. I mean, with all my imperfections, he blessed me with two of his most precious and beautiful souls to care for, to teach, and to love. Just that alone shows me how much love He has for me, and how much trust He has put in me.
Every day I fail Him. Every day I make mistakes. Each and every time I do, He wraps me in His warm embrace and tells me, "It's OK to make mistakes. I love you no matter what you do." He gives me trials to help me learn, helps me to see my mistakes and correct them, and provides more blessings to me than I could ever deserve.
I hope to be more like Him in my parenting. I know I won't be perfect, but I know it is how I want to raise my kids. Tonight showed me that it is possible, and that I am learning to be better than I am. I am grateful for that gift, especially after a long and trying day. I am so thankful to know that I can be better, that I can do anything as long as I do my best and let my Father in Heaven make up for what I lack. My greatest hope is that my children will always feel my undying, unconditional love for them, no matter what.