“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” Proverbs 12:2
As the weeks go on with my newborn, I have noticed that my patience level has decreased exponentially with the increased number of hours added to my sleep deficit. While Chloe is a wonderful baby demanding very little besides the necessary feeding and diaper changing, her brother and sister are not so easy. They are the typical two and three year old, constantly getting into things they shouldn’t and fighting as brothers and sisters tend to do.
I have reached the point now that the sound of crying other than that from a newborn makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Someone is always crying in my home, but most of the time, the crying is not from Chloe. Hannah Grace is always crying because Caleb made a mean face, tripped her, punched her, slapped her, sat on her foot, took her doll, ran into her, tackled her, walked passed her and sneezed at the same time, or any other possible assault on her person, while Caleb is typically crying while sitting in time-out for one of the offenses listed above. I actually found myself telling Hannah Grace today that she is no longer allowed to cry unless something very sad happens or she is hurt badly. She furrowed her brow and studied my face while listening intently, evidently not sure what the difference was between my two reasons and the various reasons she had cried during the day.
This constant barrage of noise and conflict on any given day has kept my nerves on edge, so much so, that I have lost the ability to relax. I hadn’t noticed this inability until the other day, though. On this particular day I had planned to take the kids outside to play with the moonsand that their Grammy gave them about six months ago but Mommy just discovered hidden in the playroom. I was trying to gather the kit together, the kids, and whatever else was essential for the ten-foot trip from the kitchen to patio, and Caleb and Hannah Grace were gathered around my ankles. They were in my way and talking incessantly.
I honestly cannot remember what Caleb said or what I said, but I know whatever I uttered was in a sharp and frustrated tone. My sweet little boy looked up at me with a smile on his face and in his voice and gently laughed to me, “Mommy, you don’t have to be mean to me. I’m your good boy.”
My heart sank, and I instantly felt a pang of remorse inside. What was wrong with me? Caleb clearly was excited that we were going outside to play with something new, and I was yelling at him without even realizing it. I was not aware of the tone I was using to speak to two of the most precious gifts God had ever given me, my children created in His image, yet I was not treating them as such.
Caleb was right. He is my good boy. Lately, I had forgotten how good he is. Instead, I worry about what people think when we are out in public and he doesn’t obey or wonder how those around me judge my disciplinary methods. I only notice the bouncing off the walls in my house and the meanness to his sister. I had forgotten about the smile that melts my heart every time and the creativity that Caleb possesses. I had forgotten about the spirit full of life and energy. I had forgotten that Caleb is three.
I had forgotten that while it may seem like a small thing to me, having Hannah Grace’s baby doll stolen by her big brother that she loves and adores is a very sad event to her. I had forgotten that being tackled when she is not playing football and not wearing pads probably does hurt badly. I had forgotten that Hannah Grace is not yet two, and toddlers cry.
I have noticed that people tend to speak to their family members differently than friends, acquaintances, or even people that they just met. Many of us tend to be more impatient, less aware of our tone with the people we love most in the world. Perhaps subconsciously we know our family will always be there, that they love us with all of our faults included. I noticed before how other people treated their families, but I hadn’t noticed myself until Caleb showed me.
Proverbs 15:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath,/but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Caleb modeled this verse for me with his gentle rebuke, and I want to change as a result. I don’t want to stir up anger in my children but instead speak blessings over them. Now I’m not going to lie–I’m still going to do my best to get Hannah Grace to toughen up, and Caleb will continue to wear down the carpet in the corner until he treats his sister right, but I will also do my best to relax and have patience, to speak to my children the way I would speak to the children in the nursery at church. I know this change won’t come easy for me, especially as I’m adding to my sleep deprivation right now by typing instead of sleeping. Luckily for me, the mouths of babes will remind me when I get off course.