“Evie! How many times do I have to tell you?!?!?!”
My pride couldn’t believe my ears.
Did he really just say what I think he said?
Did he really just say what I think he said in the very same tone that I use?
Why yes, yes he did.
UGH. Sucker-punch to my mama heart.
Sure enough, in the very same “I’m-exasperated-and-ticked off-because-you-are-human” tone (the tone he has heard me use with both him and his daddy on multiple occasions), he was using that very same tone to scold his sister.
So why did his impatient, mimicked words from the back seat slap my heart in the front seat?
Because in that moment, I realized that he was being petty and easily angered by something his sister is still trying to learn. And in that moment, I wanted to come to my daughter’s rescue–to defend her and protect her from his unfair, impatient expectations.
YUCK. Drop-kick to my mama soul.
And how many times have I, too, responded to him in the very same way, expecting him to automatically adopt, learn, and do what I’ve asked him to do?
“How many times do I have to tell you…get your fingers out of your mouth!”
“How many times do I have to tell you…we sit still and eat over our plate!”
“How many times do I have to tell you…stop chewing on the remote!”
“How many times do I have to tell you…don’t spit at the bathroom mirror!”
“How many times do I have to tell you…don’t kick the back of my seat!”
And how many times has he heard me respond to his daddy in the very same way?
“How many times do I have to tell you…I don’t like my back scratched; I like it rubbed!”
“How many times do I have to tell you…don’t open the mail and leave it on the table!”
“How many times do I have to tell you…call me if you’re going to be late for dinner!”
“How many times do I have to tell you…I don’t like that much creamer in my coffee!”
“How many times do I have to tell you…put it on the calendar!”
Yeah, it’s safe to say that he’s heard (at least a few hundred times) my petty, “How many times do I have to tell you…” explosions.
As I gently corrected him from the front seat, reminding him that we all need patient, gracious reminders, the Lord was kind to rain down a pretty healthy dose of patient, gracious reminders on my own head.
You are an imperfect sinner, a fallen mother, and a broken example.
You are going to sin, screw up, and fall miserably short.
And when you do, your kids are going to see it.
But you can’t protect your kids from your human-ness, and you shouldn’t.
Because your kids don’t need to see perfection, they need to see holy humility and a Perfect Savior.
And yes, your kids, will unfortunately get your “sin-stink” on them, but that’s okay.
Because if they, too, confess their sins, I will faithfully cleanse and forgive their sins, too.
How many times do I have to tell YOU…you are my child; your children are MY children; and unlike you, I am always a long-suffering and loving Father!
“But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.” Psalm 86:15
“Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you…” Isaiah 30:18
“The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression…” Numbers 14:18