Wednesday, May 19, 2010


My eldest goes from zero to FREAKOUT in under 4 seconds.  Might be that she can't have a playdate, might be that her siblings took the last vanilla yogurt, might be that I ask her to clean up dolls when she was STILL PLAYING WITH THEM. (I know, the nerve.)

Her voice drops an octave or two and she begins to shout.  She blows her growing-out-bangs out of her eyes and yells at the top of her voice.  The noise might be directed at her brother, her baby sister, her dad or me - one never knows.

The problem with this is that once she freaks out, I go from zero to MAD in the same time frame. 

I know it doesn't change a blessed thing when I get bent out of shape too.  Many are the nights when I go to her room, smooth her hair as she sleeps, and whisper my apologies - again and again.  But combine life with a tantrum-y two year old, an existence of not enough sleep and too many bills, and still three hours to go until their bedtime?  I return to mad almost every time.

Tuesday afternoon began the classic set-up:  a tough day at school, a missed playdate, and a brother sitting in Exactly. The. Spot. on the rug where she had been PLANNING TO SIT!!!!!!!!!!! 

In the next second, I did something I'd rehearsed in my mind over and over:  I very quietly called her over to me.  I looked her in the eye.  And I pulled her onto my lap.

I pulled my tall, lean seven year old onto my lap, her impossibly long legs dangling right down to the floor.  I smoothed her hair, I kissed her cheeks, and I whispered into her ear:  Sweetheart.  Cecilie.  I don't let anyone in our house talk to me that way.  Why would it be ok for you to talk to us that way?  Just tell me what you want.  Please - just tell me quietly what it is you want.

It was like the moment you switch off an old tv: the ping! as the cathode rays fade?  The anger slid right out of her body, and I felt her slump against me, leaning her head on my shoulder.

She let me cuddle her twenty seconds more, and then hopped off my lap to run and hug her sister - storm clouds vanished, furrowed brow smooth. 

I sat in shock.

What was that? What just looked into my eyes and insisted you will be gentle with your girl this time?  What was it that moved my heart to offer love to my girl instead of the fear of her anger?

Grace.  Grace gave me that chance.

On Tuesday morning, I knew I wanted to write a post about grace.  I knew that I wanted to somehow write about grace but was downright nervous about trying to explain my admittedly vague understanding of what grace means.

That Tuesday afternoon, I finally knew grace.  I finally lived a moment of grace.  Every single aspect of your life becomes different when you view it through the profoundly powerful prism of grace.

This is posted as part of Bridget Chumbley's One Word at a Time series, with the prompt of Grace.   Of all of them, this topic has been the trickiest - and the most real.


Emily@remodelingthislife said...

Beautiful. That is all. I'm in love with your writing.

Colleen said...

Your writing is so full of emotion, it is quite moving and stirs emotion from head to toe! Keep doing what you do, you should be proud of yourself and your family!

Cheryl said...

Such a wonderful moment. Wishing you many more of them..

Dana @ Bungalow'56 said...

We've all been there. And some days I reacted and some days I was calm. You managed to tell the story so eloquently. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I need to practice more moments like you did... what a lesson for both of you. Thanks for this!

Lori-Anne said...

So the way I see it, I have ... oh ... another four years (!) of not getting through to an intense, tantruming eldest. Except boys are developmentally slower than girls, so maybe five? Good. Good.

Tricia said...

Wow! This is beautiful!

Hollie said...

Beautiful, Kirsten. I wish we had more grace-filled moments in this green house. We have lots of screaming and tantruming. We've actually started taking Z to a therapist because of it. You are lucky, very, very lucky. Embrace that.

Aging Mommy said...

A wonderful moment and a story of grace so beautifully told. Well done on all counts

Graceful said...

I absolutely love this. I love that you're honest with how mad you usually get, and how you have to whisper apologies at night (me too, me too!). I love the success story of God's grace. This post is a real inspiration to me.

Missy said...

What a wonderful post. I relate to going 0-to-MAD in a split second. I've been there, more times than I care to admit. My oldest also gets crazy-freaked and pushes all of my buttons. Like you, I know it doesn't help when I get mad. I am so inspired by your post - inspired to apply a lot more grace to my life and my kids.

Beautifully written!

caryjo said...

What a blessing. Good "grace"ful understanding has swarmed into your life, Mom.

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