We had a stretch a month or two ago where we could not kick sickness in our home. Hadley and I had strep throat twice in the span of a few weeks. It was rough. Jordan and Adrienne were mostly spared, but Hadley and I were down for the count.
When I was little and had a sore throat, my mom would warm up lemonade with a little honey. It was delicious and soothing, and kind of Mom’s “sickness specialty.” I remember it fondly, so while I was waiting at Target for our strep prescriptions to be ready, I picked up some lemonade and honey and planned my own motherly remedy. But instead, Hadley recovered faster than I did, and the lemonade sat in the fridge untouched.
I have so many grand visions of things I want to do with Hadley. She is smart and creative and inquisitive and we could have so much fun exploring the world and creating and dreaming. But there never feels like time. And where time is in abundance, there is neither energy nor motivation. The lemonade sits untouched – the sickness gone, the moment passed, the reminder of my unachieved ambition staring at me every time I open the fridge.
But sickness returned in our house, and Hadley and I embarked on round two of misery.
One night at bedtime, Hadley told me her throat was hurting. I looked at her, rather unsympathetically I’m sure, and at the clock. It was 8:05. Bedtime is 8:00pm, and every moment that passes after that is cutting into my precious evening. I began to usher her out of the kitchen – “Time for bed! Just go to sleep!” But once. One time. I caught myself. I pulled a chair up to the counter and poured the lemonade, warmed it up, added the honey. And I watched my sweet little five year old light up as we chatted for a few moments over a cup of hot lemonade. She went to bed warm and soothed and loved, and it had cost me a whole five minutes.
So often that’s what I’m fighting for, isn’t it? MY five minutes.
MY quiet reading time.
MY making-dinner-uninterrupted time.
MY leave-me-alone time.
But at what cost?
I want to be a mom who will stop and make hot lemonade.
I want to be willing to pause and listen and laugh and ask questions.
I want to see my children instead of constantly looking past them, onto the next thing, onto my next task or plan or moment alone.
I was pondering this with my own mom, the wonderful one who made me hot lemonade. She laughed a little. Swore she probably didn’t make me hot lemonade when I was five. Related to the exhaustion and stress and the “just-leave-me-alone.” It was such a relief – because I remember my mom with all kinds of awesome-ness. I don’t remember snapping or hiding in the bathroom crying (which I am certain now that I’m a mother that she must have done). I remember room to be creative and to inquire and to learn and explore. I remember mental health days and junk food suppers. I remember listening and encouraging and challenging. I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the way my mother became my friend.
I think it started with the hot lemonade.
And I think that must be grace.
God’s grace for mothers is so sweet – grace that says on my best day of parenting and on my worst, my acceptance rests in Christ alone. There is no condemnation for me, even when the lemonade sits in the fridge untouched. Even when my sucky attitude isn’t blessing anyone. Even when all I want to do is go back to bed.
And it is that grace that gives me the strength to lift my gaze, to fix my eyes on Christ, and to trust Him to overcome my failures as a mother – to work in the hearts of my children – to sanctify me that I could love Him more and so serve them more, bless them more, and point them more to the sweet Savior who saved their messy, sinful mom.
And it is grace that will teach them to forgive me for the ways I hurt them, because it is inevitable that I will.
But it is also grace that will help them remember the hot lemonade – those moments where God allowed me to be a small piece of His plan to teach them about love and grace.
So here I am, sitting alone at Starbucks, determined to not get home before bedtime because I am wiped and burnt out and in desperate need of recharging kid-free. And I’m reflecting on a failed week and all the missed hot lemonade moments. But I’m rejoicing at the truth of grace – at mercies which are new every morning – at the sweet blessings of coffee-shop-recharging and a new week.
And as I prepare and pray over this week, I am praying for eyes to see my children, for the willingness to stop and listen to them, for grace to welcome their interruptions, and for the strength to give what I so desperately want to keep for myself.