On days like today when my toddler dumps a whole bottle of ranch dressing on the table, I pray for patience...and forgiveness, because before I sat him and his sister, who so kindly unscrewed the top for him, in time-out, I grabbed his arm roughly and yelled at both of them for making the mess.
There is plenty of laughter, silly dancing and singing, bedtime stories and hugs and kisses in our home, but with four kids there is also four times the spills, fights, personal demands and mischief-making. And, silly woman that I am, I can't seem to acclimate myself to going to bed at a reasonable hour, after years of poor sleep while nursing babies.
I don't need God to simply strengthen my patience muscle; I need help changing my habits, being more aware of positive steps to be taken before the fact.
I do surprise myself with how I've grown. Yesterday, my daughter dropped a toy in the toilet. I didn't yell at her but simply steeled myself to do what I had to do. After I rescued it and scrubbed my hands, she was crying and apologizing, and I hugged her and reassured her, "It's fine. I know you didn't do it on purpose." I remained calm the whole time. This germ phobic gal has come a long way.
There are times when I congratulate myself on how I've handled an unhappy situation, times when I've felt graced with the right words for a difficult conversation. But then there are times when I wish I had reacted differently - wish I hadn't yelled, wish I had been better able to control my stress and move beyond and let go.
I thank God for my children in my prayers, but in speaking with Him I also ask for guidance in being the best mother that I can be to my four children. There is nothing more important, and I want to grow in this vocation more than any other.
I know there is plenty of room for improvement.