It had been a long, wonderful day. My middle child and I had a "date" after school. I surprised her with a "real" haircut; not just a trim in my bathroom like she usually gets. This was followed by ice cream and a stroll through Target. She was thrilled to find a brown furry pillow for her bed (brown, as in the color of chocolate!) and a throw blanket to match. A day filled with good food, tender moments and fun. We finished the day off with a wonderful Missions Banquet at church. The type of thing the girls were not too excited about but my mommy wisdom took over and said, "Just go in, you will have fun." Which they did. They enjoyed an evening with other children from our church while we enjoyed a separate dinner.
Our blissful, I'm-such-a-good-mom day came to a screeching halt when on the way home my husband and I found ourselves listening to all three of the kids crying, arguing and complaining. Did I mention it was 2 hours past everyone's bedtime? After I had reached my patience limit, I did what any normal mother would do and said "NOT ANOTHER WORD!" As I leaned my head back on the headrest to enjoy the remainder of the ride home in silence, I heard whimpering from the 3rd row. My dear daughter that I had treated like royalty (in hopes to avoid the middle-child-syndrome) earlier in the day, was now in tears.
I had to ask.
"What is wrong?" Through tears, and an octave higher than her normal voice she said, "I am having feelings inside that I don't like. They are bad feelings." At this moment my husband and I dared to glance at each other and he could hardly hold in a snicker. Oh, the honesty of children! I asked what kind of feelings and she said, "Well, I'm having the "H" word." In our family, the "H" word is HATE. It is a dirty word to my kids, because they are not allowed to say it. (I will confess that mommy uses that word from time to time, usually when referring to dog hair in the house and cleaning bathrooms.) At first I used this moment as a teachable moment, explaining that the reason she doesn't like those feelings is because the Holy Spirit lives in her heart and He whispers "danger" to her. Then another thought occurred to me.
I had to ask.
"Who do you feel the H word toward?" I knew the answer before she said it. "You." This time my husband didn't dare make eye contact. Suddenly Mr.Focused Driver. Scenes from our beautiful, mother-daughter afternoon flashed before me. Was I hurt? Yes, a little. Did it change my attitude toward her. Actually, yes, it did. I understood her. Because I had been there. I remember feeling the H word when I was about her age toward my precious mother over something silly we didn't agree upon. I, too, felt that nudge of the Holy Spirit. Fortunately, He continues to nudge me when I have "bad feelings inside." I am so thankful for His faithfulness. Now, if I could just learn to be as honest with myself as my daughter was, and acknowledge them when they first arrive.