“Mommy, you’re not being nice.”
Those words hurt.
Those words hurt because they were spot-on true.
It was 4:45, and we were rushing to pack our bags for a super quick trip to Subway and the park. We only had three hours and fifteen minutes for “family time” until I had to be back for a scheduled walk-date.
3…2…1…GO, Team Buczek, GO!
Diapers, check! Water cup, check! Blue rubber duck, check! Sun hat, check! Subway key fob, check!
By 5:05, we had lassoed everyone into the “burning, lava-hot” car (shout out to Jim Gaffigan). Don turned the key and out bubbled hot air into the already stifling air. I gave a little bark. “Why is there hot air coming out of the AC? I can’t drive all summer with two kids and no air conditioning, babe. We have to get this looked at ASAP.”
After waiting a good THREE minutes to get out of our drive-way due to the afternoon traffic, we drove the two minutes to Subway in a humid car with a little one pleading, “Mommy, I don’t want to go to Subway. I want to go to the park now.” I gave a slightly bigger bark. “Caden, we need to eat dinner before we go to the park. You’ll be hungry if you don’t eat.”
When we arrived, I scanned the room to find the clock. Conveniently placed above the cookies, the clock read 5:17. I turned to Don and said, “If we’re able to get out of here by 5:50 and get to the park by 6:15, we’ll have a little over an hour for Caden to play.”
At this point, I’m genuinely convinced that the Subway Artist overheard me and thought it would be good patience-training to rearrange my turkey three different times before finding the perfect placement on my Italian Herbs and Cheese bread. “Oh for goodness sake! This is not art! Just throw that meat on!” I promise I barked those thoughts SILENTLY in my head.
By the time my meat had been perfectly placed and we had asked for our three water cups, the clock read 5:29. We ate fairly quickly and managed to have some decent conversation about our days, but I was finding myself obsessed with getting to the park for our “family time.”
By 5:55, we were back in the desert (I mean, car) and were headed to the park. We hadn’t been to this park since last year, so Don and I were trying to figure out exactly which road to take. Needless to say, we took the wrong road(s) and ended up in an abandoned parking lot in the middle of Dayton with the GPS on our laps.
“Why are we lost, Mommy?”
“Are we going to the park?”
“Where are we?”
“Why did we get lost, Daddy?”
With a huff to my bark, I said, “Caden! Please wait a second. I can’t answer all of your questions and use this GPS while sitting in this hot car.”
Within minutes, we had secured our location on the GPS and were 3.1 miles from the park. We decided to give up on the air conditioner and rolled down the windows. The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful and quiet as we strategically attempted to dodge the 1,256 man-hole covers on our way.
At 6:11, we had arrived (four whole minutes before my original plan)!!!! Awesome! We’ll have plenty of time to enjoy this park and each other! WINNING!
It was then that I heard it.
In a small, kind voice, “Mommy, you’re not being nice.”
In those following moments, I swear the proverbial clock of life completely stopped and his words settled over my head and heart like a heavy cloud.
Blinking back tears and swallowing my pride, I looked over at Don. I’m not sure if Don was looking the other direction because he was grinning from ear-to-ear or he was bracing for a small explosion, but there was no conviction or comfort for me to see in his face.
No one was uttering a word.
Is this what it feels like to get punched in the gut? To have the wind knocked out of your sails?
I knew he was right. I couldn’t argue, defend, or explain away his words.
I knew that even though I had not said anything unkind (trust me, I had already been proud of myself that I had held my tongue for the last hour and 26 minutes without being nasty with my words), my tone had been impatient. My tone had been anything but loving and kind.
Apparently, our three year-old son didn’t need years of discerning living in order to identify my “not nice” tone. Maybe he had been listening to our countless corrections of his disrespectful, unkind, impatient tone!?!?
After what felt like LOTS OF MINUTES, I turned around and said, “Buddy, you’re right. Mommy’s tone has not been nice. Thank you for telling me. I needed someone to tell me.”
“I forgive you, Mommy, but we need to be kind.”
Cue the conviction crickets.
Needless to say, I spent the rest of the night dwelling on his words and thanking God for using my son to convict me.
When I tucked him into bed last night, I thanked him again for speaking truth to my heart. His sweet and forgiving response spoke to my soul again, “You’re welcome, Mommy. I love you so very much.”
As I turned off his lights and shut the door, I tried to imagine how he’ll speak into my heart at the ages of 8, 13, 18, and 23, and my mind seriously wanted to explode as I wondered how I’ll choose to respond when I’m 35, 40, 45, and 50.
I truly have no clue what words and responses are coming in the years ahead but here’s what I do know, the Lord is using my son to grow me in ways I never imagined when I first held his 7 lb., 5 oz. body.