At the ripe old age of 6, my firstborn daughter already had a bit of a history for being creatively mischievous. For example, one day when I was pregnant with my third child and was nursing my second child, she managed to find some green paint and put her handprints all over the walls of the hallway and all over the bathroom. This happened in a mere 15 minutes… And our home was a rental.
Another time, she gave herself some bangs and her brother his first haircut while I was nursing my third-born child. She also managed to get all three children to strip down to their birthday suits and covered every single one of them in shaving cream while I was doing laundry. Another time she emptied the entire contents of my pantry and combined it all into one huge bowl, then added a half-gallon of milk. Most of it ended up on the floor.
The list goes on.
So, when she was 6 years old and walked out of her bedroom (an hour after I put her to bed for the night) and told me that her little sister had put magic marker all over her own face, I was not happy. In fact, I was quite angry. I was tired, I was folding laundry and all I wanted to do was go to bed. But the fact that I got angry about her coloring her sister’s face only worked her up into a tizzy and there was not going to be sleep for either of us anytime soon.
She insisted that she hadn’t colored her sister’s face. I insisted she did; her little sister has always been a very sound sleeper. There were many facts that just weren’t adding up. First, they’d been in the same bedroom, silent, for an hour, second, her history of creative mischief, and third, who else could have colored on the sleeping child’s face? (My son was sleeping in my bed, so it definitely wasn’t him.)
The fit finally ended, the anger subsided, we said goodnight and went off to dreamland.
The next morning I was awakened at 5:30 by my youngest daughter, the victim of the face coloring. She was standing next to my bed, tapping my arm and jumping up and down with excitement. She was saying “Mommy, mommy, mommy, look at me…I made myself into a cat last night!”
I looked at her through my drowsy eyes and cracked up laughing, because sure enough she did look like a cat. Then I remembered my reaction the night before. I immediately called my other daughter into the room, gave her a big hug, and apologized for jumping to conclusions. I apologized for blaming her for something she didn’t do.
There are so many opportunities to learn and grow in this life. Times like these give us a chance to show our children how to take responsibility when you’ve done something wrong. It does us no good to pretend like we’re perfect; we aren’t. It gives us a chance to lead by example. I felt awful for wrongly accusing my firstborn. I have also used it as a reminder that no matter what the past behavior has been, it doesn’t mean that the behavior will always be present. No one is always the guilty party and no one is always innocent. In the end, a hug, a laugh and an “I love you” (or a meow) can solve most any problem. So take heart, Moms. Let this encourage you today to give yourself some grace.