I would like to say that Sunday mornings at my house are filled with the smell of waffles and the gentle chorus of angels heralding in another saintly Sabbath day. Unfortunately the smell is usually that of sour laundry from Saturday night’s last desperate load and the most prevalent sound is usually hissing and clawing as the little brats fight about which scripture cartoon to watch. Talk about Leman and Lemual.
Last Sunday I loaded everyone into the car and put in a CD of children’s church songs. Five minutes down the road amid squawks, grunts and the occasional flying spittle, I looked back in time to see Harrison’s yanking on June’s pony tail (and spinal cord), noticed that once again Rex escaped without anyone combing his hair or tying his shoes, and realized that someone had given Georgia a chocolate chip granola bar and the chips had melted all over her hands/hair/dress.
It was going to be a long 30 minute drive to church.
The bickering and fighting raged on. I couldn’t decide what would make me feel better, ditching the car at the train station and running away or downing a Diet Coke (it was fast Sunday and I was feeling it).
I kept slowing eeking the volume of the music up until finally it reached an ear throbbing level. Just then I heard the primary song, “If The Savior Stood Beside Me.”
“Kids!” I yelled turning down the music, “Be quiet and listen to this RIGHT NOW! THIS is how you should be acting! Have any of you stopped to think about Jesus and how He wants you to behave today?” It got surprisingly quiet and I turned the music back up, feeling slightly smug and impressed with my blustery show of parenting.
Then I heard the words to the second verse of the song. “If the Savior stood beside me, would I say the things I say? Would my words be true and kind if He were never far away?”
That’s when I felt really, really rotten. I have a sneaky suspicion that my kids would probably be a lot kinder and a lot more tolerant if they lived with a kinder, more tolerant parent. All I could think about was how I would and wouldn’t parent if Jesus was with me. I would be so…different. How did I get so rough and snappy around the edges?
I stared ahead at the clouds, dark and rainy with lots of sunlight behind and around them and I felt like the world’s biggest sinner. All I could think about were my failures. Then I remembered that I was going to church, that I could take the sacrament and Hallelujah! Repentance! Hey, maybe it isn’t too late, maybe I haven’t ruined my family completely (cue overdramatic orchestration here).
“Kids!” I yelled again, turning down the music, “I am so sorry for being such a mean, horrible mommy, can you all please forgive me?” I looked in the rear view mirror at their stunned and slightly frightened expressions.
“Um,” Harrison said, “Sure. We love you Mom.” I looked at June who was getting seriously distressed. “Mommy, why are you crying?! Did something happen?” I gave her a super sappy, overly emotional explanation that went right over her four-year-old head and turned the music back up.
Honestly, I have never been so happy to head into the chapel and crowd into a bench with my mangy crew.