“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” – Abraham Lincoln
I think we’ve all heard this quote about Abraham’s angelic mother. Or maybe we’ve heard about other angel moms who never raised their voices, but rather raised perfect children who became presidents and prophets and perfect people who love to tell you about their perfect mothers.
And I just don’t relate. I’m just stuck being an imperfect me.
I mean, I WANT to relate. I wish those same words described me and my motherhood and my actions as a wife. I try really hard to be an example of those words, but I just can’t seem to do it all the time.
Instead of maternal perfection, I have a tendency to match my three year-old daughter, Zula’s, feisty attitude and enforce my (good) desires for her with sharp words and punishments if she doesn’t behave appropriately.
Like during lunch.
Zula is a picky eater and the other day I ended up taking her friend home early and putting her down for a nap hungry because she wouldn’t eat just a tiny bite of tuna. Seriously, it was the size of a pea. A small wilted one.
I guess we’re both cut from the same stubborn cloth.
And my husband. My sweet, kind, patient, loving, would-do-anything-for-me husband even gets my bad side on occasion when he isn’t measuring up to where I think he should be. He got an eye roll and an I-told-you-so (literally, I am embarrassed to say that I said those exact words) when some small visiting family members knocked over and broke a vase I asked him to move before our family get together.
And, really, he should have moved it, it was wrong not to. But how much “right” does he have to do to negate the occasional wrong? He helped me decorate, cook, and clean for this party and he even made the piñata. Why does my bad-wife side come out so easily?
See my problem? How can I relate to the angelic mothers other people seem to have when a broken vase and a bite of tuna fish have me on the rampage?
I don’t think I’m a terrible person, I’m pretty collected most of the time. I think I have a pretty happy family. I just wish that I didn’t have a tendency to sometimes punish those I love the most with my words and eyes and intimidations. I’ve been praying for help, not just to not do this, but to know what to do instead when the temptation to be less than angelic arises.
My answer came the other day when Zula and I were at the DI looking for Christmas stuff for a holiday party. We were getting a shopping cart up by the front doors and Zula was, well, just being three and not sure whether she wanted to push the cart or ride on the side. I’m pretty sure she was trying to do both because she’d push the cart and then, when it got some movement, she’d run and jump on the side. Then it would stop and I’d try to start pushing it, but she’d run back over and insist on pushing it again. Her running around was causing the store’s automatic doors to open, then close, then open again…
We were going nowhere in a very exciting way and I drew a sharp breath to chastise my playful child into choosing what she wanted to do – ride or push. But the words stopped short as a bee flew in front of my face so closely that I could feel the wind from its buzzing wings on my lips.
Startled, I turned my head to watch the bee fly into the store’s window right beside me and crash its body against the pane in a vain effort to fly outside. It kept having to fly away from the glass doors that kept threatening to smash it as they opened and then it would resume hitting itself against the glass.
I felt a little bad for the bee, it just wanted to go outside. My first thought was to wave my arms around and shoo it toward the open door, but I stopped because I didn’t want to get stung. I don’t think flailing around my arms would be understood by the bee the way I intended.
But then I remembered how Whit, Zula, and I were recently attacked by bees while we were outside eating some cotton candy. The bees were attracted to the yummy sweetness and wanted to follow us everywhere. I wished I had some cotton candy to lure the bee in the direction of the door and then outside.
…and then it hit me. Not the bee, the lesson. I knew that God sent this little bee into the store to buzz right by me to answer my question I’d asked in prayer.
As a mom and a wife, I’ve got multiple opportunities each day to respond to the annoyances that arise around me…like little bees that get a little too close. I can shoo them away with threats, punishments, and sharp words, but those surely would come back to sting me in contentious arguments (that I would surely win because, hey, I’m the mom) and resentment that would build up through the years.
…or I could take a breath and summon my inner cotton candy. Then I could gently and sweetly lure those I love in the direction I want them to go.
I’m not talking about bribes. No amount of bribing my daughter, even with cotton candy – real cotton candy – would have worked to get her to eat that tuna fish. But I’m also not talking about right now. Sometimes it works quickly to sweetly compliment and lovingly invite her to do the things I’d like her to do, but sometimes it takes more time and more patience and a whole lotta temperance. I mean, maybe when she’s 34 years old she’ll taste a bite of tuna fish and decide then that she does or doesn’t like it, but when she’s that old, I hope her mind is already made up that she can side with the presidents and prophets and say with them that her mom was an angel.
…not an angel who let her get away with everything, but definitely one who kept her cool when bees were buzzing and doors were opening and no one was going anywhere in a very exciting way.
So I guess my goal isn’t to be the perfect angel wife and mom. For now I’ll just settle on avoiding as much sting as I can by being an almost-angelic cotton candy-filled me.
Keep on Rollin’ (sweetly…),