I growled his name like an ugly curse word. I threw it at him like a stone. The shame was hanging on his face and cowering his form before I spoke and still I took aim and fired. My word hit its mark and the guilt spilled out of him. "I'm sorwy, Mama," he cried. "I just wanted a dwink of tea and I spilled it on everwything and I wuined ouwr pawrty! I wuined everwything! I'm sorwy!"
I took in my breath wishing I could take back the exasperated outburst that I had allowed to burst forth. It was my turn. My guilt spilled out of me. I sang his name sweetly. I turned the stone into a song trying to soothe his hurt. "Oh, Nate. Oh, Nater. It's ok, darling. It was an accident. Mommy spoke too harshly. You didn't deserve that. Will you forgive me?"
Still he murmured and cried his 3 year old apologies. "I'm sorwy. I'm weally sorwy." I stripped him of his cold, tea stained clothes and still he cried. I covered him in warm, clean pajamas and still he cried. I made towels heavy from sopping up the spilled wet and still he cried.
For long minutes the tears flowed until I pulled my boy up into my lap and wrapped him in my arms, in my love and assurance. "I forgive you, Nate. It's all cleaned up. You didn't ruin anything, baby." I wanted him to know that he had never ruined anything for me. His sweet, small person had only made things better, more worthwhile. He snuggled close under my chin and hiccuped his last tears away.
I kissed that soft head and prayed that God would forgive my impatience. That He would gift me grace for my children even in the midst of their childish mistakes-especially in the midst of their childish mistakes. That He would help me see them as He sees me. Still learning, still growing, still longing to be assured of the unconditional love that comes with unconditional grace. That He would teach me to rejoice over them with song instead of pelting them with stones.
Because Mama makes mistakes too. She needs grace just as often as her little ones, probably even more. Quite frankly, Mama should know better. She should have learned by now that carelessly thrown stone words make much bigger messes than a little bit of spilled sweet tea.